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The economic crisis, emanating from the world’s economic and political centres—Europe and the US—and the global environmental crisis resulting from climate change and aggravations caused by big business, government policies and international financial institutions have not daunted peoples and societies.  On the contrary, these crises have further emboldened people’s organizations and social movements to strengthen campaigns and build and forge more regional as well as global alliances.  Recent proofs of these empowerment are the 9th Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) held in Vientiane, Laos (October 16th-19th), where more than a thousand participants from people’s organizations from Asia and Europe came, and the locally organized ASEAN Grassroots People Assembly (AGPA), which took place November 13th to 16th despite state-sponsored harassments. (Read AEPF statement at http://www.aepf.info/aepf9/94-final-declaration-9th-asia-europe-people-s-forum-vientiane-laos and AGPA statement at http://focusweb.org/content/asean-grassroots-peoples-assembly-peoples-statement-15-november-2012)

In this edition of Focus on the Global South newsletter are Pablo Solon’s piece on climate migrants and the position paper of Focus on climate change/justice issues as part of the discussions in another major people’s gathering this November, the World Social Forum on Migration, taking place in Manila.

We are sharing with you the discussion highlights and recommendations from the workshops that Focus organized/co-organized in the AEPF and AGPA.  At the AEPF, Focus helped organize and facilitate the workshops on Green Economy and Climate Change: Implications for Asian Food Sovereignty, Forest Carbon Initiatives and Community Rights in the Mekong Region, Transnational Corporations and Investments, and Resisting Water Grabbing – Building Democratic People’s Alternatives; and the plenary on Sustainable Energy Production and Use.  At the AGPA, in solidarity with the efforts of Cambodian grassroots organizations to create space for activists who want to better understand national and regional issues, Focus organized and facilitated a workshop on trade and ASEAN for 400 participants, mostly from Cambodian groups.  The highlights of the AGPA events are also included in this edition.  It is our hope that the key issues and especially the recommendations put forth will find resonance with other activists, concerned citizens and organizations, so that these can be transformed into platforms for actions in the near future.

Focus on the Global South Position Paper on Climate Change

The Link between Emission Cuts, Right to Development and Transformation of Capitalist System

Humanity is running out of time. If there are no deep and real cuts in the next five years the impacts of climate change will lead to a situation ten times worse than what we have seen with hurricane Sandy and other climate change related events in India, Russia, Philippines and Africa in this past year.

That's what happens with 0.8ºC of global warming, and the current climate negotiations are leading us to a 4ºC to 8ºC scenario. 

More than two-thirds of coal, oil and gas should be left under the soil

Climate Change: We Need to Guarantee the Right to not Migrate

By Pablo Solon
 
Climate related events have always been a cause for migration in the history of humanity. This was the story of Egypt, Mesopotamia and other ancient societies. But in modern times the scale has been unprecedented. In 1995 there were at least 25 million climate refugees. Only 15 years later, in 2010, 50 million were displaced. In 2050 the estimations are between 200 million to one billion people that can be forced to migrate. 
 
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Cambodian Platform for Struggle

By Shalmali Guttal

Make human rights and democracy real in ASEAN.

This was the simple yet powerful message from the ASEAN Grassroots People’s Assembly (AGPA), held November 13 to 16 In Phnom Penh and attended by about 4000 Cambodians and another 200 people from other ASEAN countries. 

Questioning ASEAN’s Path to Development: Grassroots Leaders Raise Concerns on Trade and Investment Policies, Projects 
by Joseph Purugganan 

Over 400 people mostly from grassroots organizations in Cambodia together with regional partners and networks participated in a forum on the impact of trade and investment policies on people’s rights and access to land and natural resources. The workshop was part of the ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly held 13-16 November in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
 
The discussion focused on economic policies in Cambodia and the rest of the ASEAN region which are anchored on the aggressive promotion and expansion of trade and investments agreements, and the economic, social and environmental impacts of these policies on communities.

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FTA Frenzy in the Land of Smiles!
By Jacques-chai Chomthongdi

Despite the rhetoric on “moving the world toward low-carbon development,”it is clear that the transition to green economy rests on maintaining and protecting the status quo in economic development.  This is evident in how the trade and investment agenda and the preservation of the existing economic governance system are already being pursued in the context of the so-called green economy.

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AEPF9 Plenary Report on Sustainable Energy Production and Use

Highlights of the Discussions
Access to energy, to climate change and poverty are inter-linked. Energy is essential to both production and sustaining life. The current development paradigm characterized by overproduction and consumption without regard for the earth’s capacity is incompatible with long-term solutions needed to save the economy and our planet. And there is need to address the huge challenge posed by the reality that 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to energy services and 2.7 billion people still rely on traditional use of biomass for cooking, while the rich in Asia and in Europe waste energy. The struggle over who controls the sector and for what purposes is intensifying, as seen in the debate in the plenary on energy. 

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AEPF9 Workshop Report on Green Economy & Climate Change: Implications for Asian Food Sovereignty

Highlights of the Discussions
The workshop discussed how the three current global crises i.e. financial crisis, ecological/climate crisis and food security crisis are corresponding and interrelated, and that these ongoing crises are leading to uprising and violence around the world. Green economy was examined since it has been advocated by the UN and many governments as a potential new development approach which brings environmental resources into the current capitalist/market system.  Payments for environmental services and “offsets” are two main ideas behind the approach, which would undermine the shift to genuinely sustainable livelihood/self reliance of small-scale farmers. Other solutions proposed under green economy include new technologies which have been unproven and unsafe, including GMOs and synthetic biology, Nano-technology, synthetic biology, biofuels, geo-engineering, etc. which would only benefit large corporations already controlling the food system in many parts of the world. 
 
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AEPF9 Workshop Report on Resisting Water Grabbing - Building Democratic Peoples’ Alternatives

Highlights of the Discussions
We are facing a global water crisis. Never has there been such pressure on water resources and such water scarcity as we have now.
In this context of scarcity and crisis in resources, here are the key issues that came out from the workshop:
 
First, a number of country cases have shown how the water crisis is being manipulated by International Finance Institutions (IFI) to drive water grabbing; an example would be World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Indonesia and the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines which have been behind the takeover of water resources and services by corporations and private companies.
 
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Report: AEPF 9 Workshop on TNCs and Investments

Highlights of the Discussions
"A silent coup d' etat is taking place now because of corporate power”—this was a quote from a participant that underscored one of the main issues discussed in the workshop.
 
Transnational Corporations have become so powerful that only few of them now control 40 percent of the global economy. TNCs have a long track record of corporate abuses—called economic and ecological crimes. Bilateral Investment treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are part of an architecture of impunity for transnational corporations (TNCs) which are undermining the sovereignty of both developed and developing countries, democratic governance and peoples’ interests. These treaties and agreements have allowed corporations to challenge national laws that go against TNCs’ profit expectations.TNCs are known to have overturned laws and national policies including regulations to protect public services, the environment, working conditions, labor standards and health.

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We feel that in the current financial and climate crises our work to promote alternate paradigms to neoliberalism is more relevant than ever. If you agree and would like to help us continue our work, please donate now to Focus on the Global South here: focusweb.org/content/donations

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