Critical Issues for Alternative People’s Agenda Tackled in UN LDC IV Civil Society Forum
Around 1,500 representatives of various civil society organizations from Asia, Africa and the Carribean participated in a Civil Society Forum (CSF) initiated by LDC Watch together with global and regional formations like JSAPMDD. Held from May 13 to 17 in Istanbul, Turkey, the CSF was a parallel process to the official UN LDC-IV Conference and was organized to discuss the causes of impoverishment in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and come up with an alternative people's development agenda for the next Program of Action by the United Nations.
JSAPMDD took the lead in co-organizing a number of thematic plenary sessions and workshops on urgent issues that need to be addressed in the next UN Program of Action for LDCs.
On May 8, JSAPMDD, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and LDC-Watch co-organized a workshop on the South Asia Agenda for UN-LDC IV. Attended by around 75 representatives of civil society organizations, the activity was aimed at raising various issues confronting countries categorized as LDCs in South Asia.
During the workshop, Professor Babu Mattews of the National Law University, India raised issues on sustainable development and industrialization, pointing out that these must be viewed and addressed based on the political and economic context of South Asian countries. Dr. Sarba Raj Khadka of SAAPE and Rural Reconstruction Nepal stressed the need to transform the existing system that has led to numerous crises in the economy, finance, energy, water, food and climate.
The following day, May 9, JSAPMDD, LDC-Watch and SAAPE also co-organized a workshop on the debt situation in LDCs and the urgent call for debt cancellation. Speakers during the workshop included Lidy Nacpil of JSAPMDD, Camille Chalmers of PAPDA – Haiti, Oygunn Brynildsen of EURODAD and a representative from AFRODAD.
Lidy provided a presentation on the global debt situation, particularly on the issues confronted by LDCs. She also shared developments on the campaign for the transformation of the international financial system and the platform for Sovereign Democratic and Responsible Finance. Oygunn Brynildsen shared the experiences of some European countries with debt crises while the speaker from Afrodad articulated the organization's initiatives in securing policies that would address the African debt problems.
On May 11, JS-APMDD, LDC Watch, PACJA, and SAAPE conducted a workshop on Climate Justice and Developments in the International Negotiations and Imperatives for the Civil Society. The workshop discussed developments in the UNFCCC negotiations, the demand for drastic emissions cuts by Annex 1 countries and the call to keep the World Bank out of climate finance. Resource persons included Lidy Nacpil of JSAPMDD, Demba Dembele of African Forum on Alternatives, and a representative from Kiribas NGO with Rachita Dungel of SAAPE serving as facilitator.
On the same day, JSAPMDD together with SAAPE and LDC-Watch organized a workshop on Energy Poverty and Water Crisis in the LDCs. Dr. Sarba Khadka of SAAPE spoke about the power and water crisis in Nepal and other parts of South Asia. He stressed that privatization has led to reduced access for marginalised and impoverished communities as well as violations of the human right to water. Speaking in behalf of women in Africa, Wubitu Hailu, Managing Director of Kulich Youth Reproductive Health and Development Organisation, explained that access to water and energy should treated as basic human rights and should be included in the Istanbul Program of Action in order to ease the burden of poverty and disease on the world's most vulnerable people. Meanwhile, Maria Lourdes Tabios Nuera of the JSAPMDD secretariat emphasized the need for the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Water to be incorporated into national legislations. She said that water and energy resources and services must be in public hands and must be shared equitably by all.
On May 12, JSAPMDD together with Action Aid, LDC-Watch and SAAPE held a workshop tackling the issues of hunger, food sovereignty, land and agriculture. Around 35 representatives of various civil society organizations listened to and shared insights with the speakers which included Sammer Dossani of Action Aid, Prem Dakhal of ANPFa and a representative of an African peasant organization.
Attended by around 35 representatives of civil society groups and government offices, a workshop on Tax as Instrument for Equity, Justice and Mobilizing Resources for Development was co-organized by JSAPMDD, SAAPE, LDC-Watch and the Tax Justice Network.
Dr. Dereje Alemayehu, Chair of the Tax Justice Network-Africa and East Africa Manager of Christian Aid, spoke about how tax incentives and capital flight deprive many LDCs in African countries of much-needed resources. Lidy Nacpil, Regional Coordinator of JSAPMDD cited examples of regressive tax systems in the South while emphasizing the role of international financial institutions (IFIs) and how taxes are closely linked with debt payments and spending for basic and essential services.
Meanwhile, Abhas Ghimire of SAAPE and LDC-Watch provided an overview on the proposed land value tax in Nepal, citing the transformative impacts of such a measure in terms of discouraging land speculation and diverting investments to productive capacities. Professor Jung Lee of ARENA and South Korea Catholic University, on the other hand, tackled the concept of Financial Transaction Tax as an important measure in responding to the global financial crisis. The workshop was facilitated by Rajju Dhakal of the LDC Watch secretariat.