On October 19, after four days of discussions between the more than 1,000 delegates who attended the Ninth Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF9) held in Laos, a “Final Declaration” was published, with special emphasis on the fair distribution of food and energy, as a basic right which should be fully preserved.
Since the 1990’s, the Asia-Europe People’s Forum, as a forum for civil society, has been held in advance of the Asia-Europe Summit. The Ninth Forum was focused on the four topics: Social Security and Access to Essential Services; Food Sovereignty, Sustainable Land and Natural Resource Management; Sustainable Energy Production and Use; Equal Employment Opportunity and Sustainable Livelihoods, and emphasised the idea of civil society in Europe and Asia.
AEPF Finland Vice Chairman Cehlin Fu said that since AEPF6 held in Helsinki, environmental issues have been of increasing importance in the discussions. Of AEPF9’s four main topics, two directly related to the environment, Food Sovereignty, Sustainable Land and Natural Resource Management, and Sustainable Energy Production and Use. Such a strong environmental focus has been unprecedented in AEPF history.
The Final Declaration of AEPF9 was made to serve as the voice of the people in Europe and Asia for the ninth session of the Asia-Europe Summit.
Representatives from both the Asian and European continents have expressed consensus in the Declaration with regards to current and emerging issues of financial, economic and ecological crises, as well as issues of the new annexation of land and resources. In Asia, the biggest impacts of "development" have been massive investment in rural livelihoods, the environment, and human rights, and a negative impact on food security.
In Europe, international, competition-oriented, agricultural policy is forcing an increasing number of farmers out of farming, while bio-energy initiatives are moving in to occupy farmland. The industrialisation of agriculture must seek alternative methods.
AEPF9 concluded that equity should be the measure for energy distribution, both internationally and domestically. Green energy is emerging as a new area for development which will result in more environmental resources ending up on the international market as commodities. Aboriginal rights must be emphasised.
Xu Nan, managing editor in chinadialogue’s Beijing office, attended the summit and introduced China’s community supported agriculture practices in the discussion section.
Translated and edited by chinadialogue volunteers Tanya. Mayo Bruinsma and Hope Loudon respectively.