CPDE Statement on the 5th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD)


Bangkok, Thailand | 28-30 March 2018

The CSO Partnership on Development Effectiveness (CPDE) unites with other civil society organisations (CSOs) to critically take stock of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, 3 years down the road, during the 5th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.

CPDE welcomes the continued commitment of the Region to discuss ways forward in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through the unique process of the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM), the CPDE and its members, are opportuned to engage and reflect peoples’ concerns and realities.

CPDE, however, expresses its overwhelming concern over the slow and uneven pace of progress of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We are deeply concerned that the regional process in the APFSD has stalled. Despite gaining momentum since 2015 and being adopted by 2017, the Regional Roadmap has not been discussed in detail at the APFSD since its accession. The process has come to a complete standstill due to low up-take from Member-States.

The monitoring of implementation at the national and sub-national levels also remains a major challenge, while there remain limited references to principles of effective development co-operation (EDC) and Human Rights-Based Approaches (HRBA). There is also the continued shrinking of civil society spaces, and lack of accountability of key development stakeholders, especially the States, corporate bodies and financial institutions. The Voluntary National Review (VNR) process is still marred by evidence of exclusion of CSOs in the actual review.

We call on governments to renew their commitment in realising a genuine sustainable development by taking the first step in moving the Regional Roadmap forward in order to reflect results in the HLPF.

CPDE recommends the following points as pre-requisites for the Asia Pacific region in effectively implementing the 2030 Agenda and attaining the SDGs:  

Promoting Effective Partnerships

Partnerships have been highlighted at the Forum as an important mechanism in realising the aspirations of the SDGs. CPDE stresses the crucial role of genuine and inclusive partnerships to deliver on these expectations. To fulfill these goals, partnerships must be guided by principles of EDC and HRBA. EDC is informed by the critical understanding of the development process, namely the examination of the content and purpose of aid and development policies as well as the political nature of the developing relationships. It shapes inclusive structures for accountability for donors and governments, promotes the alignment of donor country priorities with national development plans, and fully accessible aid data.

Strengthening private sector accountability

Private finance does not directly translate to the goals of sustainable economic development. These are often geared more towards the maximization of profits, with only minimal and indirect benefits for poverty eradication. The use of private finance must abide by the highest standard of transparency and accountability if this stakeholder is to affect positive change to attaining the SDGs. Existing norms and mechanisms in making the private sector accountable; however, remains weak and lacking. The private sector in development needs to be aligned with EDC and adopt international transparency and accountability norms. This includes the practice of decent work.

Governments are obliged to respect the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, meaning respect for the right to form unions, right to collective bargaining, right to protection against all forms of discrimination at work, protection from slavery and slave-like conditions and elimination of child labor. Overall, regulatory mechanisms and binding regulations founded on the human rights standards,  labor, and environmental standards need to be strengthened and applied to all private sector actions.

Better Management of Resources for the People

Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains a critical source of financing most especially to least-developing countries who do not have ample resources to facilitate their own socio-economic development. ODA should not be regarded as an altruistic commitment from developed countries but rather a repayment of the former’s historical and ecological debt to the latter. ODA from the DAC members of OECD have substantially slowed down since 2010 and the SDGs failed to secure more than the dismal 0.7% of GDP target notwithstanding a rising trend of military spending. ODA flows remain largely conditional with many countries now using it to leverage for private investments or Public-Private Partnerships, especially in infrastructure. This poses great risks because private finance is profit-oriented which results in the inequitable provision of public goods and social services.

To be an effective source of development finance and mechanism in the Regional Roadmap, ODA should not only grow in quantity but also improve its quality and effectiveness. Commitments on ODA should be fulfilled to support countries’ progress, which is centered on peoples’ needs and realisation of their human rights, including environmental sustainability.

Enabling environment for civil society 

Civil society has steadily and persistently strengthened its role and relevance in the international community, most notably in the Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC). In Paris (2005) CSOs were observers, in Accra (2008) CSOs were recognised as “development actors in their own right”, in Busan (2011) governments promised to create an “enabling environment” for civil society.

However, conditions for civil society have worsened over the years, with recorded shrinking and closing spaces for civil society becoming more mainstream day by day. Member states should commit to reverse the trend of closing spaces and accelerate progress in providing an enabling environment for civil society. CSO role in the monitoring of implementation and review at the HLPF needs to be fully recognised at all levels, and to VNR review.

CPDE remains steadfast in its commitment to realising the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. CPDE stresses that in order for this implementation to be effective; it needs to act on actual enforcement mechanisms that will emphasise transparency and accountability for all actors. CPDE continues to call for the universal application of effective development cooperation in this process. These principles are crucial for the global partnership for sustainable development and the implementation of the SDGs.

The APFSD is a regional and inclusive preparatory event for the high-level political forum on sustainable development that will be held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in July 2018, the Fifth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development will engage member States, United Nations bodies, other international organizations, major groups and other stakeholders in highlighting regional and subregional perspectives on the theme of the high-level political forum in 2018.


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