Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thank you from PAN AP

Dear Conference participants, speakers and guests,

Greetings of solidarity!

From September 27th to 29th 2009 PAN AP hosted the Asia Pacific Conference on Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change. Together with all the PAN AP partners, we would like to express our gratitude for your participation and for joining us in building solidarity to contend against the crises and advance people`s struggles and alternatives.

It was a meaningful and fruitful gathering attended by 113 conferees from 22 countries representing peasants, small farmers, agricultural workers, women, indigenous peoples, fisherfolks and health, environmental and consumers civil society organizations. Some even had to brave the wrath of tropical storm Ketsana in order to be with us.

The Conference served as a platform to sharpen analysis on the pressing issues of climate change and the food crisis. Throughout the event, panel discussions and workshops were held to discuss the threats and challenges posed by the crises and to advance people’s resistance and alternatives.

Issues and recommendations which emanated from the plenaries and workshops were consolidated into a Plan of Action covering areas of policy advocacy, awareness-building, campaigning and network-building, research and documentation and capacity-building and adaptive strategies.

The Conference culminated with a Unity Statement that declared our commitment to claim people’s right to food, to work together in regenerating nature and society and to further strengthen and consolidate people’s movements in advancing food sovereignty, gender justice and climate justice. The gathering bore the stamp of our colorful hand prints that depicted the diversity of grassroots alternatives and the solidarity of movements.

In the sidelines of the Conference, participants engaged in meetings and conversations, mounted exhibits and showcased cultural presentations that added color to the gathering and a warm atmosphere for solidarity work.

Indeed we can say that the Conference was a big success, thanks to your valuable participation as conferees, workshop organizers, speakers, exhibitors and performers.

We appreciate all of your comments and suggestions and we welcome additional feedback from other participants who have not yet shared theirs.

We also invite you to visit which features the Powerpoint presentations, photos, videos and other pertinent references.

Please also anticipate the consolidated Conference documentation. We shall provide you a copy as soon as it becomes available.

The Conference may have ended but our paths will cross again as we continue to advance the people’s struggles, the people’s alternatives.

In solidarity,

Sarojeni V. Rengam
Executive Director
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Photos from Day Two and Three

originally uploaded by BEA Conference.
For updated photos from Day Two and Three of the conference please check out our flickr site by clicking on the photo to the right.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Get Out Into the Storm, My Friend

Poem by Dr. Romy Quijano

Get out into the storm, my friend
And feel the fury of climate change
Look into the clouds,
And see the darkness of worsening greed
Get drenched in the rain,
And feel the coldness of apathy
Wade into the floods,
And hear the gasp of a drowning child!

Get out of your comfort zone, my friend,
Perhaps you’ll see dehumanizing poverty
Meet the people displaced, perhaps you’ll see vulnerability
Touch their gaunt skins,
Perhaps you’ll feel the rigors of suffering
And look into their eyes,
Perhaps you’ll see injustice glaring!

But then, my friend,
When you see the strike of lightning,
That would be the spark of awakening
When you see the stretch of rain falling,
That would be hope out there pouring
When you see floodwaters coming,
That would be the mass movement rushing
And when you hear the thunder rolling,
That, my friend, is the people’s fight roaring!

Presentation of the Consolidated Plan of Action

Following a recap by Dr Meriel Watts on the activities of Day One and Two, Clare Westwood of PAN AP presented a draft of the Consolidated Plan of Action, which pulled together issues and action plans from the plenaries and workshop sessions.

The Plan broke down the issues into the following groups: Policy Advocacy; Awareness, Campaigning and Network Building; Research and Documentation; and Capacity Building and Adaptive Strategies.

The Policy Advocacy section highlighted issues such as fair wages, genuine agrarian reform and creating a national platform for food sovereignty. It was emphasized that women's voices need to be heard and their visibility increased. A review of UN documents and plans for a Global Day of Action on December 12 in Copenhagen were some of the strategies of the section, among many others.

For Awareness, Campaigning and Movement-Building, seed exchanges and NGO networking were suggested. Also, media and youth outreach and increasing the links with consumers were seen as strategies going forward. Engaging other sectors, such as the media, film makers, and musicians were also new ideas for increasing awareness.

In terms of Research and Documentation, farmer-led research was emphasized as a key strategy for documenting the impact of the food and climate crisis. One suggestion was also to document the differences in nutrient density of GE food compared with traditional varieties, as often the GE varieties have been found to have lower nutritional value. Standardization of documentation and monitoring of government funding were also suggested, as well as community maps and documentation of indigenous lands.

Capacity Building and Adaptive Strategies were discussed, particulary the promotion of local markets and creation of job opportunities and livelihood options for small food producers. One idea was to include climate change programs in universities, and another was to provide training on alternative health strategies. In addition to many other ideas, it was emphasized that increasing the capacity of farmers to analyse the issues has to be a key focus going forward.

East Asian Culture Highlighted

The morning of Day Three began with a cultural presentation from the East Asian participants. A traditional Korean song was performed, as well as a song from Okinawa, Japan, and a photo slideshow from Yunnan Province, China. The participants showed that while there are many similarities and linkages between the East Asian countries, there are also differences. One example was the unbiquitous eating utensil - chopsticks! The lengths are different from Korea, to Japan, to China, even though their purpose is the same. From this we can see that we are unique, but also linked together.

Action Planning from Day Two Workshops

Day Two featured four interactive and lively workshop sessions: Biodiversity-based Ecological Agriculture (BEA), Gender Justice, Climate Justice, and Food Sovereignty. Following the sessions, group members shared their discussions and focus areas with the group in the final evening plenary. Below are some of the key points from each workshop.


The group discussed the elements of BEA, including the aims to improve livelihoods and support small producers and rural communities. They also discussed the opportunities for BEA, as well as the gaps, needs and plans going forward to the World Food Summit in Rome. Some of the opportunities are: premium pricing for organic and fair trade products, rich local knowledge, lobbying for local food and distribution systems, among many others. The group also discussed the gaps, including the lack of support for farmer research, decreases in biodiversity, and promotion of BEA at the UNFCCC, WFS and FAO.

Gender Justice

Ten people attended the session on Gender Justice, which was guided by the presentation by Dr Irene Fernandez earlier in the day. Strong suggestions for collective action came out of the session. Some of the action plans included: information and analysis of policies, linking organizations, policy advocacy, research and documentation, a focus on the impact on women, and the important call that women not be seen as victims, but as VOICES in the struggle against climate change.

Climate Justice

The Climate Justice group came up with a very focused plan of action for the COP 15 activities in Copenhagen in December. Several plans, including increasing the involvement of indigenous people and women, holding a national conference on climate change, networking with the media, holding side events at the COP 15 meeting, and sending a 10 person delegation to Copenhagen were suggested. The plans were further strengthened because the group set out a timeline and were organization-specific.

Food Sovereignty

The Food Sovereignty group had 17 participants from 7 countries. The differences between food sovereignty and food security were explained, and then there was a review of the People’s Statement on Food Sovereignty. Key strategies included focusing on traditional knowledge and the experience of indigenous people and small producers, fighting for fair wages, access to land, disaster response and national government policies. Mobilization activities were suggested, including furthering the action of YORA and holding events as part of Peasant Week in October. Themes included social environmental justice and strong policy advocacy. The IPC and IAASTD were brought up as venues for international policy advocacy and action.

Night of Inspiration

An evening honouring the heroes and heroines of Malaysian peasant movements provided an uplifting end to the day’s proceedings. Hosted by PAN AP with Dr Romy Quijano as MC, the evening began with dinner and then honoured each of the five awardees and presented them each with a pewter gift to remember the evening.


Che Ani Mat Zain - a leader from the MADA district who has been fighting for the wellbeing of farmers and fishers for over two decades.

Hj Saidin (Posthumous) – Hj Saidin passed away in 2007, but his name and contribution have had a lasting impact on fishermen’s groups and grassroots leaders.

Tijah Yok Chopil – an indigenous women’s leader from Perak.

Noor Anak Nyawai – an Iban farmer from Bintulu Division, Sarawak, he is the village chief of Kampung Sekabai Bintulu Sarawak who has been an inspiring and constantly energetic leader of the families in his 64-door longhouse, about 800 people in total.

Ason Anak Belilie – a traditional farmer and spiritual head of Kampung Ensika Sebangan Simunjan in Sarawak. He is an expert in his village on traditional customs and practices and is one of the strongest advocates of traditional practices and livelihoods.

To end off the evening, Biju Negi read an inspirational poem.