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The Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development

The Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development and The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (26-31 March, 2017, Bangkok)

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) convened the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) 2017 in Bangkok on 29 to 31 March, 2017 on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and as a preparatory event for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be held in July 2017 in New York. Representatives from the diverse civil society organizations from the Asia-Pacific regions were invited to participate in the following two events.

The Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development: 26-28 March 2017 in Bangkok.

The Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development organized by civil society (the secretariat represented by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development as a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM), in collaboration with the ESCAP and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) as a preparatory meeting for the APFSD. Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, ES of ESCAP and co-chairs of the APRCEM, opened the Asia Pacific CSO Forum for Sustainable Development 2017. The APCSF called on the broader CSOs to encourage new and relevant organisations to engage with regional civil society efforts on sustainable development, as well as to engage with the UN mechanisms and institutions. Over 150 civil society organizations with equitable geographical, thematic, sectoral and gender coverages from all across Asia and Pacific attended the three days’ deliberations.

The sessions were held around the issues of identifying systematic barrier, development justice, engagement with SDGs implementations at national, regional and global levels apart from parallel discussions on gender, poverty, climate justice, sustainable agriculture etc. Asia Development Alliance (ADA), IFP regional member facilitated the session on 9 VNR Reporting countries during on day one. Later, the VNR summary report was refined using ADA’s regional consultation report on SDG and VNR, held earlier in Bangkok and one to one discussions with the CSO representatives of VNR reporting countries in Asia. The summary report on the VNR was later circulated with APCSF participants and submitted to UN ESCAP during APFSD. The experience of discussing and collecting information with the colleagues in the VNR reporting countries has been exciting as the main aim was to observe and monitor the way CSOs at country level are engaging with their respective governments on preparing VNR or being part of SDGs implementation and monitoring.

In countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Iran and Maldives the CSOs have been engaged with their government in preparing VNR as they have been solicited to work on the report or providing inputs. On the other hand, there are countries like India, Thailand and Nepal and Japan, where the CSOs have been engaged with their respective governments and have been part of various SDGs consultations but have not been invited to get engaged in writing the VNR. The CSOs in these countries are preparing their own report and plan to finish latest by first week of June and later propose to present during HLPF side events on VNR. ADA along with some partners like TAP network, AP-RCEM also plan to host couple of side events during HLPF 2017.