The Civil Society Forum, a side event of MCED 05, organized jointly by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Citizens’ Alliance for Consumer Protection of Korea (CACPK), in cooperation with and support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was held from 23 to 24 March 2005.
The event, attended by representatives of CSOs and NGOs from 14 countries in Asia and the Pacific, highlighted the important role of the civil society in achieving environmentally sustainable economic growth in Asia and the Pacific. At the Forum, the issues relating to the promotion of sustainable consumption and production, recirculation of resources, renewable energy, the role of the media and education, and the participation of the civil society in achieving “green” consumption were considered, and the Forum came up with a document summarizing the discussions that was presented to the Ministers at the Ministerial Conference for their consideration on 28 March 2005.
The influence of civil society in the public debate on sustainable development had been steadily growing. It was not without reason that the views of the civil society were often regarded as “voices from the ground” to be heard and listened to by all. Civil society in the countries of the Asian - Pacific region was to play a crucial role in achieving “Green Growth” in partnerships with respective governments, the business sector and the international community at large.
It was stressed that the active engagement of civil society was indispensable for changing demand by encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable consumption habits. That change cannot be instituted by Governments alone, but needs to be developed and put into practice by everyone, primarily by civil society.
The Forum urged Governments, businesses and international community to work with affected communities, CSOs and NGOs to empower consumers to strengthen the shift to sustainable production and consumption.