Friends of the Earth groups are building a more just and sustainable Asia. This report highlights some of the innovative and transformational solutions underway; from community forest management in Indonesia to building solar cooperatives in South Korea, and winning the legal right to food in Nepal.
Home to 4 billion people and 55 percent of the world’s population, the Asia Pacific region is unique in its vast cultural, economic and ecological diversity. Some of the world’s most powerful economies and poorest countries are in the region, as are stunning tropical rainforests and endangered species.
Today, Asia face faces two destructive and entwined crises – growing inequality and climate change. The Asian Development Bank calculates that 1.75 billion Asians live in extreme poverty and lack the basic necessities of a dignified life. This is based on the average of national poverty lines for less developed economies in the region, effects of vulnerability to risks and food insecurity.
Climate change is already happening – wreaking devastation on communities and ecosystems throughout the region. Without urgent action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions there will be greater hunger, drought, floods, and weather extremes, as well as mass extinctions and the forced migration of millions of people.
The sustainable future of our planet will depend on whether Asia can rise to these challenges, and transform its economic and political system. Business as usual will no longer suffice.
Thousands of practical solutions for a more just and sustainable Asia are being implemented everyday across the region. Solutions that put people and the planet at the centre of economic systems and expand the role of cooperation, community management, workers’ control, public services and sustainable planning in all aspects of life.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) Asia Pacific hopes to inspire action. The ground-breaking projects in this report are improving the lives of millions of people; from revolving community funds in Sri Lanka, to land rights in PNG and building a cooperative movement in Australia. Some of these solutions are small and local, others large and national. They are models and projects that can be replicated and expanded throughout the region.
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific calls for the ‘scaling up’ of these solutions to transform Asia. To do this we need an enabling policy environment. Governments in the region must support, develop and adopt measures and programs to rapidly increase the impact of these peoples’ solutions.
As the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other Asian leaders meet in March 2016, Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific calls on the states and regional institutions to:
1. Ensure universal access and sustainable delivery of essential public services in health, education, transport, water, housing, and energy to the people of the region
2. Support the Social and Solidarity Economy, by creating new national ministries and or an intergovernmental body, and developing targeted financial assistance programs
3. Ensure the Right to Adequate Food for every citizen within national and regional legislative frameworks and guarantee that these rights are upheld through government intervention. This includes ensuring that every citizen has the right to food sovereignty as provided by law
4. Ensure corporations are held accountable for human rights abuses and environmental destruction, by supporting the proposed UN Treaty on binding rules for multinational businesses and other national legally binding measures
5. End fossil fuel subsidies and redirect funding to community and socially controlled renewable energy
6. Support the development of Community Forest Management in ways that promote community autonomy, secure and clarify land tenure, protect communities’ rights and their access to land and resources, and respect and recover traditional knowledge
7. End trade deals that undermine attempts to build just, sustainable and local economies, particularly by removing the harmful Investor State Dispute Settlement system
8. Develop national community-based tourism strategies that prioritize sustainability and community control of tourism in a proactive way, in full partnership, cooperation and consultation with vulnerable people
9. Respect and recognise the rights of customary and community land owners, including communities’ right to free, prior and informed consent regarding any developments that affect their lands, lives or livelihoods
10. Develop regional and national plans for an energy transformation, which prioritizes access to energy for all, community or social control, 100% renewable energy and no new dirty energy projects.