Towards a Just and Inclusive Asia and Europe

Challenging Unjust and Unequal Development, Building States of Citizens for Citizens.
14 Octubre 2014

The 10th Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF10) tackled five major themes, or People’s Visions, which represent AEPF’s hopes for citizens of the ASEM member countries and the communities they live in. This is their final declaration.

We, over 400 women and men, representing social movements, people’s organisations and citizens from 42 countries across Asia and Europe joined together from the 10th to 12th October 2014 in Milan, Italy at the 10th Asia Europe People’s Forum under the title “Towards a Just and Inclusive Asia and Europe: Challenging Unjust and Unequal Development, Building States of Citizens for Citizens”.

Dowload the full declaration.

The 10th Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF10) tackled five major themes, or People’s Visions, which represent AEPF’s hopes for citizens of the ASEM member countries and the communities they live in. These are:

  • Socially Just Trade and Investment Universal and Transformative Social Protection – guaranteed jobs and livelihoods, access to essential services and social security for all;
  • Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Land and Natural Resource Management;
  • Climate Justice, Sustainable Energy Production and Zero Waste;and
  • Peace and Security

At the AEPF10 we focussed on developing strategies and recommendations to our elected representatives in our countries, and to ourselves, as active citizens.

We met at a time of continuing and growing inequalities, injustices and poverty experienced by an increasing number of people across Asia and Europe. What is often presented as a ‘financial crisis’ is in reality part of a series of interlinked crises - food, energy, climate, human security and environmental degradation - that are already devastating the lives, and compounding the poverty and exclusion faced on a daily basis by millions across Asia and increasingly across Europe. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and access to resources, livelihood opportunities and basic services remains grossly unequal. The ASEM10 is an historic opportunity for ASEM governments to heed what the AEPF had been pressing in the last eighteen years - to reverse the current trends to more inequality and the erosion of people’s fundamental social, economic and political rights.

There is a strong consensus among us gathered at the AEPF10 that the dominant development approach over the last decades - based around deregulation of markets, increasing power of multinational corporations, unaccountable multilateral institutions and trade liberalisation - has failed in its aims to meet the needs and rights of all citizens. This has led to a hollowing out of democratic accountability as elites make decisions and implement policies with little or no scrutiny from citizens, creating the conditions for poverty, inequality, environmental devastation and growing social unrest. There is a deep felt need and demand for change and for new people- centred policies and practices.

Despite the policy failures of trade liberalisation, market deregulation and privatisation, our governments continue to ignore the growing tangible consensus for fundamental policy changes. The ecological, debt, financial, energy and food crises, which have been caused and compounded by the policies and practices of many governments in both rich and poor countries and the blanket privileges gained by big domestic and transnational business, have caused increasing social polarization between peoples and states. In Asia the crises are exacerbating poverty and inequality, already widespread before the present crises. In Europe the crises are creating indebtedness, precarious work, joblessness and insecurity. The powers of transnational corporations have become even more entrenched as ‘corporate capture’ of governance and policy processes spread to more political arenas, giving business almost complete control over our lives and livelihoods. The responses of citizens are often at local and national levels and to complement these, the AEPF10 is looking to encourage and strengthen cooperation and solidarity of people’s networks regionally, inter-regionally and globally.

Our governments have the responsibility to ensure that we can all live in peace, security and dignity. We, the citizens have already taken our responsibility by taking our governments to task through our participation in the creation and implementation of radical and creative solutions needed for people-centred recovery and change.

We therefore call upon the governments who are members of ASEM to implement people-centred responses to the current crises in an effective and responsible manner. Priority must be given to poor, excluded and marginalised people and more democratic and accountable institutions must be in place to assure that processes and measures will lead to a just, equal and sustainable world based on respect for gender equality, promotion and protection of human, economic and socio-cultural rights and environmental security.

The AEPF is a strategic civil society gathering of Asian and European social movements, non-government organisations and campaign networks that are fighting poverty and inequality and working for social, economic and climate justice. We are committed to opening up new venues for dialogue, solidarity and action.

The following call to action is based on the recommendations from the many vibrant and exciting events that were held throughout these three days.