I was given 3 minutes to tell Asian and European leaders why we need profound change

I was given 3 minutes to tell Asian and European leaders why we need profound change

By: Dorothy Guerrero
Date: 19 October 2018

asia-europe-meeting-brusselsAt the Asia-Europe Meeting 12 of national leaders in Brussels on 18 October 2018, civil society was given 3 minutes to present the outcomes of the 12th Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), which took place in Ghent at the start of this month.

This is the address presented on behalf of the AEPF by Dorothy Guerrero of Global Justice Now.

We proudly share with you some key conclusions and recommendations from the twelfth Asia Europe People’s Forum, attended in Ghent by over 425 representatives of movements and organisations from 48 Asian and European countries.

In the spirit of collaboration, we hope to work with you, to effectively and responsibly address the current crises of climate, inequality and rise of authoritarian and excluding governments. We aspire to build a Just, Equal and Inclusive Asia and Europe.

We present our People’s Agenda to you at a time when poverty persists, inequalities are growing, social tensions, racism and xenophobia are mounting, democratic spaces are shrinking and environmental devastation goes unchecked.

The AEPF is compelled to share these deep and urgent concerns with you, our elected representatives, and to demand that you address the following three areas:

First, Climate Justice and Just Transition

Climate change jeopardises our lives, livelihoods, societies, and cultures, while the current extractive and exploitative fossil fuel economy drives global warming. It is killing our world. Every drop of oil we use is beyond safe limits.

We share, with urgency, 2 key initiatives

  1. COMMIT to 100% renewable energy for all with appropriate public finance and ensure just transitions while providing universal access to energy;
  2. AGREE to a global moratorium on new fossil fuel exploration and new coal projects, a ban on fracking and new gas projects.

ASEM governments must work together to shift the systems of production and consumption away from ones based on the continuous expansion and appropriation of nature to more sustainable and environment-respectful ones.

Second, Social Justice

Comprehensive and universal social protection is fundamental to promote social justice,  especially for vulnerable social sectors including migrants, women, people in the informal sector, those with disabilities and people in the rural sector.

Two key recommendations are:

  1. ENSURE decent work and sustainable livelihoods underpinned by living wages, employment guarantees, an end to contractualisation, and access to land for tillers and subsidies for small farmers;
  2. PROVIDE universal access to quality health care, free education at all levels, public housing, and living requirements for water and energy;

Third, an “Inclusive and Just” Asia and Europe

ALL people, regardless of nationality and status, must be recognised and respected, treated equally, and enjoy the same basic human and labour rights.

We are deeply concerned by the closing of political spaces, the dramatic increase in extra judicial killings, forced migration and threats to civic and political freedoms. There are also discernible hostilities toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press and intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities and migrants.

We sincerely urge you to promote substantive and participatory democratic processes by creating and expanding spaces for dialogue, interaction, and tolerance.

In particular,

  1. LEGISLATE to ensure that local and national governments are accountable to citizens, and guarantee genuine access to every stage of the decision-making processes;
  2. Uphold the primacy of human rights over trade and investment agreements and support the ongoing process of building a UN binding treaty on TNCs and other business enterprises;

2050, 2030 or even 2025 are not soon enough.  The time for profound change and action is NOW.

Please read our full Final Declaration and urgently adopt our recommendations.

Thank you

Photo: European Council