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Rio for People: Strengthening People's Capacity for Genuine Sustainable Development
11 Apr 2012 - 13 Apr 2012
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Hanoi, Vietnam

I. Background and Rationale:

In the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the international community recognized and committed to address the unequal and unsustainable character of dominant development patterns. Twenty years on, however, the world finds itself far off track in realizing the vision of Rio, thus, the 2012 Rio Summit?s call for renewed political commitment. Unfortunately, Rio+20 is inclined to reinforcing the same neoliberal framework that was the very cause of the multiple crises of today. The Green Economy, premised on the commodification of nature and ecosystem services, allows for business as usual and very well suits the interests of the corporate sector.

The corporate sector is a key actor individually and collectively interfering with the negotiations of international environmental agreements. From being staunch opponents of any proposals for firm action to reduce greenhouse gasses and to demands for more investment in reducing pollution and controlling toxic wastes, they have embraced the call for sustainable development since Rio+10, and have been very diligent in international lobbying through corporate environmentalism. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for example, through their mastery of corporate environmentalism, have successfully downplayed the corporate sector?s huge contribution to the global environmental, social, and economic degradation, resulting in a general acceptance that any realistic solution has to be business-led and trust market incentives to deliver the right responses. In the 1992 Rio Summit, they have skillfully prevented the debate on the need for international regulation of corporations that slowed down global progress in the fields of international environment and development policy in the 1990s. Such actions have since then moved industry from the periphery to the center of the sustainable development debate.

Meanwhile, the world?s most affected people, especially those from the South, who have real sustainable solutions in their hands and can thus respond to calls for a ?change in patterns of production and consumption? remain left out. While the United Nations has a mechanism for involving different social sectors, Rio+20?s focus on Green Economy despite wide opposition expressed in Preparatory Meetings in Asia Pacific and Latin America shows that the people?s agenda are not priority in the Rio negotiations and thus leaves the world?s most affected without effective representation in such critical decision-making processes. Besides deliberate exclusion or marginalization in these processes, some activists note the lack of a consolidated and coordinated civil society movement on Rio+20 and sustainable development at the regional and global levels.

The Southern grassroots peoples? contributions deserve a place in the global debate about the social and ecological future of the planet. It is high time that their voices are taken into account in the negotiations, decision-making, policy formulation, and other processes on matters that affect their lives. In most if not all cases, however, they acknowledge the lack of capacity in many areas of work such as lobbying, advocacy, and policy work. The Asia Pacific Research Network will address these concerns through a capacity development conference guided by researches that show the realities on the ground and address issues for more effective advocacy and engagement for genuine sustainable development towards and post-Rio+20.

II. Overall Objective

To undertake a research-guided capacity development exercise for grassroots organizations from the South for a coordinated advocacy and engagement aimed at achieving genuine sustainable development towards and post-Rio+20

III. Specific Objectives
 To promote critical awareness of Rio +20 issues among Asian CSOs and constituencies
 To promote better coordination for Asian CSO participation from the grassroots
 To support critical initiatives for policy advocacy
 To develop research initiatives to pursue future directions in sustainable development advocacy and implementation initiatives

IV. Tentative Programme

Day 1.
- Optional Rio for Beginners
- Keynote Speeches

Day 2.
- Introductory Panel
- Critique of Rio +20 policy framework and ?green economy?
- Panel 1. Climate change and environmental sustainability , technology, climate finance, UNFCCC negotiations
- Panel 2. Critique of the Green Economy and policy framework (commodification of nature and environmental services, privatization of commons, social and environmental regulations for business)
- Workshop on social issues: Labor and social protection; Women; Minorities and disadvantaged groups; Indigenous Peoples; Youth and children
- National and sub-national program initiatives - Agenda 21 national experiences including successful campaigns and policy advocacy, sub-national sustainable development issues, national advocacy for Rio+20; water, energy, and food
- Panel 3: National and sub-national programs
- Panel 4: Sectoral issues: mining and development; food; water;
- Workshops: Agenda 21 National and sub-national programs and campaigns; Mining and development; Agriculture; Water; Oil and Gas

Day 3
- Panel 5: Community level initiatives, successful local campaigns and policy advocacy, linking issues of Rio to local struggles, good practices in sustainable alternatives
- Workshops: Good local practices in sustainable development; successful local campaigning on thematic issues (extractive industries, development project, infrastructure); Successful local campaigning on social issues (labor, entitlements for women, etc); Policy advocacy for alternatives at the municipal and community level
- Workshop report back
- Resolutions: Approval of the Declaration/Statement and any other resolution
- Plenary Planning
- Closing session - Closing Remarks

V. Outcomes and Outputs:

The conference will have two major outcomes and several outputs:

 Increased capacities in advocacy and engagement for genuine sustainable development towards Rio+20 and beyond - The conference will strengthen the capacities of around 100 CSOs who will have better articulation of critical views on Rio+20, the Green Economy, and sustainable development at large. At least 5-10 grassroots ambassadors from the South will be elected to promote the people?s during and beyond the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012.

 Better coordinated advocacy and engagement on Rio+20 ? The conference will produce a critique of the state of play of the Rio process, a documentation of initiative for research and policy advocacy, an overall action plan for moving forward, as well as a People?s Declaration or Statement that will guide advocacy and engagement post-Rio+20.

VI. About APRN

APRN?s most recent work on sustainable development and Rio+20 is the Asia Pacific Conference on Development Models and CSO Strategy Session on Rio+20 co-organized with Ibon International and the Reality of Aid-Asia Pacific and attended by some 50 organizations from 18 countries. The main outcome was an action plan, a commitment to protect and advance the gains of Rio, as well as a People?s Statement on Sustainable Development and Rio+20 wherein calls related to the Green Economy, International Framework for Sustainable Development, and the new emerging issues were outlined. The Statement is being circulated globally for further signatures and will be submitted as a CSO input to the zero draft.

Efforts on environmental issues undertaken in the past years were through APRN?s water and natural resources work stream, that gave birth to the independent global Water for the People Network, which later on launched its own campaigns, mainly around a People?s Water Code and people?s alternatives and initiatives in water resource management. In 2007, APRN held the Conference on Natural Resources that formed the People?s Movement on Climate Change whose People?s Protocol on Climate Change calls on peoples to struggle for ecologically sustainable, socially just, pro-people, and long-lasting solutions. This People?s Protocol is now endorsed by more than 500 individuals and organizations in the North and South, ratified at a People?s Assembly in Copenhagen in 2009, echoed in 14 countries that also held their own People?s Assembly, and officially submitted to the UNFCCC COP 16. The 2004 APRN Conference on Food Sovereignty called for a People?s Convention on Food Sovereignty and established the People?s Coalition on Food Sovereignty.

APRN?s work towards the realization of sustainable development is not only on environmental issues, but also on economic and social issues, through researches, advocacy and capacity development. Its very beginnings in 1997 were actually brought about by the need for research in support of advocacy on trade issues and how investment liberalization impacts Asian. APRN also pursues various social issues, mainly labor and women?s rights, the peoples and people?s organizations/movements role in developmen

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