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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Streams of Struggles: People’s Movements, Resistance and Alternatives

Food Sovereignty: Erpan Faryadi (AGRA Indonesia and the Asian Peasants Coalition)

Food sovereignty is at the heart of the work of PAN AP and its partner organizations, and represents local struggles for land, genuine agrarian reform and the people’s right to make decisions surrounding food production, consumption, trade and the environment. The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) is an Asia-wide coalition of at least 20 million farmers, landless peasants, fisherfolks, agricultural workers, dalit, indigenous people, herders, pastoralists, women and youth representing 21 organizations from 8 countries. Their work towards genuine food sovereignty is one of local, national and international urgency, especially in the context of climate change and the food crisis.

Rice shortages are occurring across Asia, reportedly the worst in the last three decades, and in many places the price of food is skyrocketing, placing the most vulnerable in situations of food insecurity. Added to this are issues such as deforestation, neoliberal imperialist policies, hunger, landlessness and vulnerability of the people. The APC strongly believes that implementation of genuine agrarian reform is the ultimate solution to the food crisis. Governments should also control food prices, stop importation, give full support to rice productivity program and withdraw its membership to WTO.

Erpan Faryadi's presentation was followed by a presentation by Dr Irene Fernandez of Tenaganita on Gender Justice in Agriculture, which highlighted the special role of women in food production.

There was also a presentation on Climate Justice by Don Marut.

Following the presentations was a panel discussion 'Sharing Grassroots Experiences and Best Practices' in which Dr Charito Medina of MASIPAG, Vijay Jardhari of BBA and Sun Jing of PEAC shared their rich experience from many years of work. Participants were able to ask questions and make comments, showing the diversity and depth of knowledge present among the conference's participants.

Photos from Day One!

originally uploaded by BEA Conference.
Come visit our flickr site for photos from Day One!

Workshop Sessions - Day 1

Sunday’s afternoon sessions featured six interactive and lively workshop groups: Peasants/Livestock Keepers, Indigenous Peoples, Agricultural Workers, Women, Fisherfolks and Consumers. Each group took advantage of the experience of its participants, sharing the challenges and opportunities of the different countries represented.

Workshop 1 – Women

The Women’s Workshop had 15 participants representing 6 countries (including one male). It featured two presentations, one from the Philippines and another from Uttarakhand, India. The situation of climate change, its situation, impacts and effects were discussed, including experiences of different countries. In Sri Lanka, for example, the tsunami left women and children the most vulnerable and marginalized. Several responses were suggested, including policy reform, changes to public distribution systems, access to land for women, and specific crises and situations of countries. Women have been impacted in a number of ways, including decreased biodiversity, good security, lack of education and information, and displacement.

Workshop 2 – Peasants and Livestock Keepers

The Peasants and Livestock Keepers Workshop included participants from 5 countries. The group identified problems that have resulted from climate change, such as erratic monsoons, exploitation of water resources, increased pest attacks, decrease in traditional crop varieties, and the poor responses of institutions. In order to come up with an effective people’s response, the group had several ideas including the revival of traditional seed varieties, increased networking between people’s organizations and communities, transparency in government policies and promotion of biodiversity-based ecological agriculture (BEA).

Workshop 3 – Indigenous People


I. Impact of Food Crisis and Climate Change

• Farmers suffer a lot from unpredictable weather unlike 30 years ago when they can confidently plan for planting and harvesting season. There is a tendency of having no food for next season as a consequence.
• Indigenous people are veering away from agriculture as they are moving towards cash economy and they are face poverty. They do not have money to plant crops which requires a lot of capital (farm) input.
• They themselves become destroyers of nature as what is being done by people in corporate agriculture.
• People are becoming individualistis because of this kind of economy (where they seek easy cash), they are not united anymore. Thus they cannot easily solve their problems, they become weak in spirit.
• People are leaving agriculture especially the educated (younger) generation. They do not appreciate the value of agriculture since planting requires a lot of money and farmers are always in debt.

II. Recommendations from participants

• Struggle in order to have control on land and agricultural practice
• Bring back the land to the people
• Revive the indigenous way of life. This is a sustainable way where traditional knowledge and practice are applied.
• Knowledge on ecologically sound practices should be pushed and popularized
• Promote organic farming, it is not a fast process but there is a gurantee for success based on experiences from various countries
• Document community maps of IP's lands. We should intensify work on this but this information should stay in the community since they are the owners and nobody else.

Workshop 4 – Agricultural Workers

19 people from Southeast Asia, South Asia, North America and Europe attended the workshop. Specific needs of agricultural workers were identified, as well as the differences between countries. Major issues were the conversion of food land to cash crop/monoculture agriculture, pesticide and water intensive agriculture, land conversion, the loss of power among farmers to control crops and lands, and the tendency of farmers to become contract farmers as land prices increase and farms are bought by large agribusinesses. The group came up with demands to be brought forth at the World Food Summit, and these included demanding the government devote resources to research and the impact of climate change, increased income sources for farmers, promotion of BEA and decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. They also called on NGOs and people’s organizations to document and collect evidence on traditional farming methods and knowledge, as well as to help provide links between consumers and agricultural workers.

Workshop 5 – Consumers

16 people from 9 countries attended the workshop on Consumers. The discussion focused on current research on consumer behaviour around the world. One study mentioned the concern of consumers in India, Brazil, China and Mexico; consumers in these countries were among the most concerned in the world, and most willing to pay more for eco-products. A number of suggestions emerged, including the need to link consumers and farmers through schemes such as Community Supported Agriculture, labeling, and people to people partnerships. It was also mentioned that policy changes and emphasis on educating students, institutions and new markets could be effective mechanisms for change.

Workshop 6 – Fisherfolk

The Fisherfolk group engaged in lively discussion on the current situation of fishing communities in South East Asia. There was an agreement that government inaction, decreased resources, and impacts of development projects are negatively impacting small fisherfolk. One issue identified was the difficulty in organizing communities, leading to challenges in changing government policy and effecting institutional change. With the increase in aquaculture, there has been increased marginalization of small fisherfolk and an increase in pest attacks and disease outbreaks. The subsequent discussion on alternatives included suggestions such as the formation of self-help groups, increased literacy among fishing communities, community management of resources, voter education and genuine fish

YORA Celebration of Biodiversity Evening

The Save Our Rice Campaign organised and hosted the People’s Year of Rice Action (YORA) Celebration of Biodiversity Evening consisting of an exhibition and bazaar along with the YORA Hall of Biodiversity and Rice for Life Dinner. The event also featured special rituals and a seed exchange between sub-regions in Asia.

The celebration started with a welcoming speech by Mr. Jayankumar from THANAL, India and a rice blessing by an indigenous elder to celebrate the role of rice and biodiversity in our lives and affirm our solidarity in bringing about social transformation.

The YORA Hall of Biodiversity featured the YORA events in various countries through photographs and showcased rice and other traditional local biodiversity-based products of Asia through the exhibit. The following organisations proudly displayed their publications and products: Barcik; Beej Bacaho Andolan; Consumers Korea; Ibon Foundation; Living Farms; PACOS; PAN Philippines; RRAFA, Esan Live Styes Association and Organic Agriculture Centre; SADIA; SAEDA; Sawit Watch; SEVA; SRD; SRED; THANAL and; Vikalpani. Participants were also given special Rice Gifts.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Understanding the Threats and Challenges of the Food Crisis and Climate Change

Climate Change and its Impact on Food and Agriculture by Lim Li Ching of Third World Network, Malaysia

We know that climate change is very real and that we are feeling the impacts around the world. Even very small changes have very catastrophic effects on sea level, weather events, and food and agriculture production. It is a completely unjust situation. The US is the biggest polluter and emits about 30 per cent. Climate refugees are going to be a huge problem, mainly in Asia. Also, it is important to remember that IPCC estimates are conservative estimates because these are consensus documents. Latest estimates of FAO is 900 million people being pushed into poverty.

Model of industrial agriculture dominates and has contributed to climate change itself. Can we really rethink agriculture? Can we achieve a paradigm shift? Sarath Fernando earlier pointed this out in his keynote address on small farmers in Sri Lanka. Business as usual is no longer an option; we need to radically overhaul agriculture. The future of agriculture lies in biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture. We can not rely on industrial agriculture, especially in the context of the economic crisis, food crisis and climate change. The voice of small farmers needs to be heard. The IAASTD report substantiates this. Ecological agriculture rooted in farmers’ knowledge can respond well to changes in climate.

Developing countries need a fair deal at global conferences such as COP 15. The Campaign ‘repay the climate debt’ calling on developed countries to repay developing countries is now an ongoing signature campaign.

Responsible and Ethical Consumption by Dr. Vokyung Song of Consumers Korea

We work with concern for others and take into account the interests of others. We work through linkages between ourselves and with others, and through communication. If we created the problems, how can we create the solutions? Who will support the solutions and create a support system? My suggestion is to link with others and multiply this effect.

Ethical means what is wrong and what is right? Responsible behaviour means taking into account the interests of others. We can achieve this through positive buying and negative purchasing.

Food Crisis, Globalisation and Financial Crisis by Antonio Tujan Jr. of Asia Pacific Research Network, Philippines

The past 5 years have given multiple crises – subprime, bailouts, endangerment of ‘real’ economy. Recession can no longer be simply called a recession, but intensification of cyclical forms of recession. Other forms of crisis showed the complexity: energy crisis; limited fossil fuel production; but also speculation; war; manipulation of futures markets; search for new markets; price spikes and; finance of new speculative investment in exploration and extraction - new oil found, searching for more expensive oil, exploration, exploitation.

Food crisis followed and is similar. It is an artificial shortage with new liberal reforms adversely affecting the countries of third world and impacting the global market. Increased sensitivity; speculation and; agrofuels taken together are fundamentally linked to imperialist globalisation. Globalisation is about crisis, and it produces more crises. Overproduction necessitates neoliberalisation, fake markets of finance, using technology of past decades to expand production and reduce costs, transportation, new markets, distortion of markets for energy and for food products. Cyclical markets and prices are just new forms of capitalist crisis. This financial crash is the extension of the crisis we have seen since the 1990s. The impact and result of neoliberalism is the loss of food self sufficiency and security, and food sovereignty. Restructuring of agriculture increases the role of agri-business, that are anti-nature and that control the supply chain with market-domination over production.

The upcoming food summit in Rome is meant to address this topic. Sadly, the conflict is the fight between the status quo (led by the FAO) and balancing of interests against a new offensive, an aggressive push by TNCs to resurrect the green revolution in Africa. This is being pushed and we need to respond with alternatives. The Gates Foundation, OECD funders and AGRA will win in their effort to corporatise agriculture in Africa if we do not push back with alternatives.

The food summit in Rome will be an important struggle to push forward food sovereignty. Add to this, climate change. Is it just a fact of life? Yes, but it is not just. We need to understand the issue beyond injustice and see the fundamental roots of climate change. Not simply capitalism, but in monopoly capitalism. This was pushed to excess and to unsustainable proportions because of capitalist accumulation and greed. Exhaustion of raw materials, colonialism, producing more than what is needed in order to maximize profits are also in place. This is the ecological aspect of imperialism. This is the root of climate injustice. We are beyond the industrial revolution and have gone to the molecular level. The question of creating synthetic replacements of nature is happening now.

Climate change is a wake up call against capitalism and imperialism. It is not just about adaptation or mitigation. What we need is a lifestyle and economy change. A people’s protocol is needed that calls for a social revolution against the imbalance in society.

Conference Keynote Address

Facilitator: Kamla Bhasin
Keynote Address: Sarath Fernando of Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), Sri Lanka

Sarath Fernando said that this is an important conference and a crucial moment in our history. He talked about the experiences of peasants, agricultural workers and livestock keepers. He went on to say that we are now experiencing "climate destruction" and not just "climate change" and referred to the recent disaster that hit the Philippines.

Fernando, however said that instead of going through all the tragic and unfortunate things are are happening to the world and, the excluded and discarded people of his society, we should focus on the positive aspects of all these. He enjoined everyone in creating a positive agenda for the rest of the world and that it is time that we should seriously question some of the concepts that we have been adopting, terms of development, growth, exploitation, and the end of nature. He also warned that actually, we are no longer developing but instead, we are moving towards a dangerous side of destruction and survival.

Fernando then shared what is being done by the small farmers, which should enlighten the whole world. MONLAR emerged out of about 15 years of work with farmers. He said that the work that needed to be advanced is the Peasant Information Network. He also spoke about the civil wars in Sri Lanka and how this gave rise to MONLAR. He said that even if there are a lot of things to complain about, things are beginning to change and there are things that bring a lot of hope to the people.

He also said that PAN AP has given birth to a process that should lead the way for the rest of the world. Fernando said, "We need a world without poisons, where we are not compelled to eat and drink poisons. We need food production that does not poison our water, food and environment. Now, the task is to protect, conserve and sustain a system that is basically unsustainable. We need to create a new system of recovery."

In Sri Lanka, inspite of 50-60 years of unsustainable agriculture, he said that there are food that can be gathered from their neighbours and that this gave way to another process in which people planted food in plots of land so that food could be made available. Even without money for fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, people and communities found ways of doing agriculture without chemical inputs.

Fernando said that the type of agriculture that is free of external inputs is fast becoming a movement, a definite trend, and is growing in Asia. This is what we now refer to as ecological agriculture. He explained that we need a process to restore nature’s ability to regenerate itself. He said that birth, growth, decay and then, regrowth has to be a guiding principle of our survival and that it is imperative that we restore this, otherwise life will not survive. The experience of small people, who are compelled to survive without money, has shown us the way to produce things without relying on external capital. The principle is to allow nature to grow.

A survey done in Sri Lanka in 2008 found 538 organisations gathering information on ecological agriculture. Now, the government is considering to provide support on this effort because it is more reasonable that supporting the costs of heavy chemical inputs. The Sri Lankan government is now contemplating about ecological growing plots for all families.

Fernando reitirated that we have to use the conference as a venue to provide proper direction, to say that ‘we have to restore the ability of the earth to survive’ and to strengthen and support this growing movement in the world. He said, Sri Lanka can become a model country because it is a small country with tremendous blessings from nature. It is not about being the most powerful nor the richest, but to show that those who are being excluded have the right to take ownership and help keep the world alive.

Conference Opening Address

The following is an excerpt from the Opening Address of Y.B. Pee Boon Poh, Penang State EXCO for Health, Welfare, Caring Society and the Environment

Good day and welcome to Penang!

On behalf of the Chief Minister MR. YAB TUAN LIM GUAN ENG, I would like to welcome and congratulate you for holding this timely and relevant conference.

We recognize that this gathering is being convened amidst pronounced global development challenges such as the food crisis and climate change. Concurrently, the world economy is afflicted with a chronic financial plague that wreaks havoc from financial markets to farms.

In 2008, the Sunday Herald characterized the global food crisis as “humanity’s biggest crisis in the 21st century.” Because it is fused with “an economic crisis of the enormity taking place today, the impact could be catastrophic,” a FAO official recently warned, while also noting the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture.

The manifold adverse implications of climate change are also being felt across the globe. Global temperatures rose twice as fast in the last 50 years as over the last century and are projected to increase even faster in the years to come. The resulting floods, fires and other climate catastrophes have inflicted damaging effects on the environment, agriculture, livelihoods and lives.

Far from being mere catchphrases for crises, these challenges impact on the environment and the resources, livelihood and health of vulnerable sectors in agriculture.

Various global responses are being made to address the crises. In December 2009, the UN climate conference in Copenhagen will take place with the aim of yielding a new global climate treaty.

Grassroots responses are also domestically pursued yet are often unheard in international fora that try to address the development challenges posed by the global crises.

As the crises escalate, poverty and hunger worsen. Loss of jobs and livelihoods increase. The exodus of workers from urban to rural areas stretches further.

The confluence of these global development issues has adversely affected vulnerable sectors: peasants, agricultural workers, fisherfolk, women, indigenous peoples and livestock keepers. These sectors bear the brunt of the chronic crises but they are relegated to the sidelines of so-called global and local efforts to addressing the crises.

In decision-making processes involving these challenges, the voices of affected sectors are neither considered let alone heard. However, they offer grounded perspectives on and sustainable solutions to the crises.

We hope that this conference will serve as a platform for tackling and sharpening analysis on pressing global issues as they impact on the said marginalized sectors.

There is indeed a pressing need to facilitate collective learning from the wide range of grassroots, national and regional experiences and responses with the end view of formulating viable strategies for confronting and addressing current threats and challenges.

We recognize the importance of building a stronger solidarity and a resilient resistance of movements and civil society organizations in our part of the world.

Indeed, even as the crises escalate, peoples' responses abound and their struggles reverberate. Concomitantly, it is an opportune moment to affirm, strengthen and reinvigorate sustainable ecological practices in agriculture as a sustainable response to the chronic global threats and crises.

We support proposed actions that build on people's resistance and alternatives that promote food sovereignty, ecological agriculture, environmental sustainability and gender justice.

Penang, being a coastal state, shares the same concern about the impacts of the climate and food crises. However, the people of Penang also believe that the global food and environmental challenges can also provide opportunities to tread a more sustainable path of development.

We intend to be a green manufacturing hub that will enable us to explore the opportunities of producing goods and services in an environmentally responsible way. We would take steps to go into the new fields of environmental technologies and sustainable development.

The Penang State government is committed to protect and promote the environment for our future generation. Over the last few months, we have been focusing on several programmes which we believe will contribute to reducing carbon emission.

We have initiated the following:

• “No Plastic Mondays” to reduce plastic bag consumption
• 1 million EM mudballs to clean rivers and drains
• Tree-planting
• Providing incentives for housing developers who adopted Green Building Index (GBI)
• Proposed an integrated transportation master plan towards becoming the first green state in Malaysia.

Apart from the government, we are also urging industries to also take the initiative to show their willingness and determination to pursue sustainable production and consumption in their own business strategies to achieve the highest standards of sustainability, with low and zero carbon technologies, state-of-the-art recycling, water management systems and good public transport.

In view of the foregoing, we agreed to develop and implement a project on the theme of “Development of an Eco-town in Penang, Malaysia”. The project looks at the formulation of an eco-town policy framework and an action plan for the development of Penang Cyber City as an eco-town, and develops strategies and plans for the purpose.

Penang is a highly urbanized and industrialized State and we see the need to integrate the concerns of environmental sustainability into local and global economic growth strategies. This means that we have to ensure that resources used today are still available to be used by our children in the future. Sustainable living refers to a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resource. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption and diet.

The new concept of eco-towns offers us a key starting point for addressing these questions pertaining to industrial development and sustainable living that affects our quality of life.

Penang aspires to be Malaysia’s first Green Manufacturing Hub in the region. We will showcase environmentally friendly infrastructure and manufacturing processes which meet international environmental standards.

If we are to make eco-town a successful project, there are three important issues that we need to address: energy and water consumption, effective public transportation and affordable housing. We hope that all the stakeholders in Penang will fully cooperate in the eco-town projects. We hope that Penang will become a very important green manufacturing player regionally and internationally with the implementation of the eco-town project.

In closing, the State Government of Penang looks forward to working with you in realizing your valuable recommendations.

I wish you all a very meaningful and productive discourse and strategy conference. Enjoy your stay in our beautiful and serene island.

Conference Opening Ceremony

27 September, Penang - The Asia Pacific Conference officially opened with colourful and lively cultural presentations featuring Malaysian performers at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang.

The conference started with a lion dance by the Xuan Gang Sport Entertainment group welcoming the delegates and Y.B. Pee Boon Poh, Penang State EXCO for Health, Welfare, Caring Society and the Environment who graced and opened the event. There were Malay dances performed by the Serih Pinang Group and playing of traditional Indian instruments by Premkumar s/o Sockalingam and Kumaran s/o Rajangam.

There are about 100 delegates from 22 countries gathered with the aim of strengthening people's movements in asserting and advancing food sovereignty and climate justice and in confronting the food crisis and climate change.

Dr. Irene Fernandez, chairperson of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) welcomed the participants and set the tone for the conference. She hoped that the conference will be a good venue for discussions on how we can forward the struggle to ensure that there is food for ourselves and the generations to come, as well as, a safe and healthy environment for us to live in.

Sarojeni V. Rengam, executive director of PAN AP, presented the context of food crisis and climate change, as well as, the objectives of the conference.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Profile: Antonio Tujan Jr.

Antonio Tujan is a social activist who has worked on international issues and those relating to the Philippines for forty years. One of the founders of the Philippines-based IBON Foundation thirty years ago, he is the foundation's current International Director. Mr. Tujan Jr. is a researcher, editor, educator, and writer, and he is also the Director of the Institute of Political Economy. He has written and/or edited a number of articles and books on globalization and related issues, including: Globalizing Philippine Mining, Contract Growing - Intensifying Corporate Control of Agriculture, and The Impact of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.

Mr. Tujan is active in international networking, and is the Chairman of both the Asia Pacific Research Network, a network of more than fifty major research non-governmental organizations in the Asia Pacific, and of Reality of Aid, a global network on poverty eradication. He is also Chair of the International Steering Group of the Civil Society Parallel Process to the Accra High Level Forum.

Profile: Tenaganita and Dr Irene Fernandez

Tenaganita - Malaysia
Speaker: Dr Irene Fernandez

Tenaganita, which means "Women's Force", is one of PAN AP’s key partner organizations. Based in Kuala Lumpur, it works to protect the rights of women and migrant workers as well as marginalized sectors like single mothers, trafficked women, domestic workers, sex workers, migrant workers and those living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, it aims to create an “enabling environment and empower workers to achieve their full potential in society.” (taken from Tenaganita’s Mission Statement). Programs include: Anti-Trafficking in Persons, Migrant Rights Protection, and Health & HIV/AIDS.

Dr Irene Fernandez is one of Malaysia's most prominent Human Rights activists. Her activism in Human Rights issues, especially women's rights, began early in her career as chair or founder of numerous organizations and networks tackling issues such as infant feeding, violence against women, women's development and the National Policy for Women. She is one of the founders of SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia - Voice of the Malaysian People), a non-governmental human rights organization working for a free, equal, just and sustainable society. Dr Fernandez is currently the Director of Tenaganita and is Chair of the Board and Steering Council of PAN AP. She is also a founding member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APFWLD) and CaramASIA. She was conferred an honourary doctorate in Social Medicine by Virj University of Amsterdam in 2000. She is also the recipient of the Jonathan Mann award for Health Rights of People, conferred by the International Aids Society in 2002, and was awarded the Human Rights Monitor award by Human Rights Watch in 1996. In 2005, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award.

Profile: Third World Network

Third World Network - International
Speaker: Lim Li Ching

The Third World Network (TWN) is based in Penang, Malaysia, and works through a network of regional partners in Uruguay, Ghana, India and Sweden. Since its inception in 1984, TWN has focused on its mission: “To bring about a greater articulation of the needs and rights of peoples in the Third World, a fair distribution of world resources, and forms of development which are ecologically sustainable and fulfill human needs.”*

Main activities of TWN include research on economic, social and environmental issues pertaining to the South, media and publication activities, meetings, seminars and workshops on international issues, specifically those relevant to the South, and participation in international conferences and processes.

Speaker Lim Li Ching is a Researcher at Third World Network Malaysia.

*Information taken from, last accessed September 25, 2009.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Profile: MONLAR

MONLAR – Sri Lanka
Speaker: Sarath Fernando

The Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) is based in Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka. Borne out of the socio-political and economic crisis that emerged in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s, the movement began in 1990 as a network of farmer organizations, NGOs and people’s organizations. It promotes a vision of alternative sustainable development, including emphasizing the key role of women in agriculture and alternatives to “free market” export-oriented growth models. MONLAR works as a network, collaborating with organizations at the regional, national and international level. Issues of concern include: livelihood protection, the environment, food security, poverty and discrimination.

Speaker Sarath Fernando is the Co-Secretary of MONLAR. More information can be found at:

Profile: Devinder Sharma and the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security

Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security - New Delhi, India
Speaker: Devinder Sharma

The Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security is an independent collective of agricultural scientists, biotechnologists, economists, farmers, and policy makers based in New Delhi, India. Its work focuses on the controversial technology of genetic engineering (GE) in food crops and the effects of GE on small farmers. It has engaged in policy work with the Prime Minister, which resulted in the initiation of a high-level enquiry into the dubious role of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in supporting, promoting and hastily pushing the controversial genetically modified crops onto gullible Indian farmers.

Devinder Sharma is an award-winning journalist, writer, thinker and researcher respected for his views on food and trade policy. His writings focus on the links between biotechnology, intellectual property rights, food trade and poverty. He is a regular contributor to leading national print publications. He is keenly involved with AgBioIndia, a daily email bulletin to bring the politics of food, agriculture and trade to the people. His recent works include two books: ”GATT TO WTO:SEEDS OF DISPAIR” and "IN THE FAMINE TRAP."

(Some information taken from, last accessed September 24, 2009).

Media Advisory - For Immediate Press Release

The Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific will host an international conference entitled “Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change” to be held from the 27th-29th September at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. The conference will feature over 100 participants representing countries from the Asia Pacific region, Africa, North America and Europe.
The conference will also feature a Biodiversity Bazaar open to the public on the 27th September at the Copthorne Hotel. The Bazaar will be held from 1-4pm and will showcase local foods, handicrafts, and entertainment as well as provide information on PAN AP’s Year of Rice Action campaign.
The world is in the throes of what is turning out to be one of the worst global recessions of the century. This was preceded by the Rice Crisis and Food Crisis of 2008, which resulted in food riots in many countries. Paradoxically, this is happening in a world that produces enough food for all people, and is being compounded by the interrelated problem of global climate change.

According to the United Nations, Asia is particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. The effects have already been seen in the form of flooding, unpredictable rains, droughts, rising sea levels, hurricanes, mudslides and other climate variations. The impact on food producers is staggering, with small farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, peasants and gatherers among the worst affected.
Recognizing the urgent need to address these issues and come up with solutions that strengthen people’s movements, food sovereignty and climate justice, the conference will feature the following specific objectives:

• To analyze the causes and impacts of the food crisis and climate change from the people's perspective and to share the responses of people's movements (namely, peasants, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, rural women, fisherfolk, and consumers).
• To critically analyze the role and responses of transnational corporations, multilateral institutions, bilateral agreements, IFIs and governments in the food and climate crises.
• To identify critical areas for regional and global action.
• To develop collective strategies to address the critical areas.
• To build solidarity and unity among people's movements in addressing the crises.

For further information please contact:
Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP)
P.O. Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-6570271/6560381
Fax: +604-6583960

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Conference Programme Available Now!

Venue: Copthorne Orchid Hotel

DAY 1: Sunday, 27 September 2009

Threats and Challenges Posed by the Food Crisis and Climate Change

Opening Session


07.30-08.00 Registration of Participants

08:30-10:00 Assembly of Participants and
Arrival of the Chief Minister Representative of the State of Penang

Opening Cultural Presentation
Featuring Malaysian Performers

Welcome Remarks
DR. IRENE FERNANDEZ, Tenaganita - Malaysia

Opening Address
By the Chief Minister Representative of the State of Penang

Coffee/Tea Break

10:00-10:10 Introductions of Participants

Presentation of the Context and Objectives of the Conference
SAROJENI RENGAM, Executive Director
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN AP) – Malaysia

Keynote Addresses
Food Crisis and Climate Change: Perspectives, Impacts and Strategies

10:10-10:30 Keynote Address 1:
Experiences of peasants, agricultural workers and livestock keepers

10:30-10:50 Keynote Address 2:
Experiences of women and indigenous peoples
VERNIE YOCOGAN-DIANO, Innabuyog-Philippines

10:50-11:05 Coffee /Tea Break

Panel Discussion 1:
Understanding the threats and challenges of the food crisis and climate change

11:05-11:25 (1) Climate Change and its Impacts on Food and Agriculture
LIM LI CHING, Third World Network - Malaysia

11:25-11:45 (2) The Role and Responses of Corporate Agriculture in the Food and Climate Crises
DEVINDER SHARMA, Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security-India

11:45-12:05 Open Forum

12:05-12:25 (3) Responsible and Ethical Consumption
DR. VOKYUNG SONG, Consumers Korea-South Korea

12:25-12:45 (4) Food Crisis, Globalization and Financial Crisis
ANTONIO TUJAN, JR., Asia Pacific Research Network- Philippines

12:45-1:05 Open Forum

01:05-02:30 Lunch

Parallel Workshops 1:
Sharing of Impacts and Responses from Sectors with Coffee/Tea Break

02:30-05:30 (1) Peasants/Livestock keepers
Organized with the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)

(2) Indigenous Peoples
Organised with the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) and EED Philippine Task Force on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (EEDTFIP)

(3) Agricultural workers
Organised with the Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI)

(4) Women
Organised with the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC)

(5) Fisher folks
Organised with the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP)

(6) Consumers
Organised with Consumers Korea and Consumers International

06:30 Biodiversity Bazaar
Year of Rice Action (YORA) Exhibition

DAY 2: Monday, 28 September 2009

Streams of Struggles: People’s Movements, Resistance and Alternatives

09:00-10:00 Cultural Presentation
Plenary Session: Report Back from Workshops 1 Results
Consolidation of Workshop Reports

Panel Discussion 2:
Advancing People's Movements, Resistance and Alternatives

10:00-10:15 (1) Food sovereignty
ERPAN FARYADI, Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA)-Indonesia

10:15-10:30 (2) Biodiversity-based Ecological Agriculture
VICTORIA LOPEZ, Wellspring of Science and Technology (SIBAT)-

10:30-10:45 (3) Gender Justice in Agriculture
DR. IRENE FERNANDEZ, Tenaganita – Malaysia

10:45-11:00 (4) Climate Justice
DONATUS MARUT, Indonesian NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)-Indonesia

11:00-11:30 Open Forum

11:30-12:15 Sharing of grassroots experiences and best practices

DR. CHARITO MEDINA, Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG)-Philippines

VIJAY JARHDHARI, Beej Bachao Andolan–India

Pesticide Eco-Alternative Center (PEAC)

12:15-12:30 Open Forum

12:30-1:30 Lunch

Parallel Workshops 2
Streams of Struggles: Strategies and Action Plans for the Next 4 years

01:30-04:00 (1) Food Sovereignty
Organised by the PAN AP Food Sovereignty Programme

(2) Biodiversity-based Ecological Agriculture
Organised by the PAN AP Rice Campaign

(3) Gender Justice in agriculture
Organised by the PAN AP Women in Agriculture Programme

(4) Climate Justice
Organised with the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)

04:00-4:30 Coffee/ Tea Break

04:30-05:30 Plenary Session: Report Back from Workshops 2
Consolidation of Workshop Results

07:00 Dinner

Night of Inspiration

DAY 3: Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Consolidation of Plans and Strategies
From critique to action: Strategies that will make an impact for the next four years

Plenary Session:

09:00-09:10 Cultural Presentations

09:10-09:40 Recap of Key Points of Day 1 & Day 2

09:40-10:40 Consolidation of Plan of Action & Tasks

10:40-11:00 Coffee/Tea break

11:00-12:30 Presentation of Unity Statement

12:30-01:20 Announcement and Sharing of Campaign on Climate Change and Community Resilience

01:20-01:30 Closing Remarks

01:30-02:30 Lunch

Side Events

02:30-05:30 YORA Meeting (Save Our Rice Campaign Advisory Council Members)

08:00-09.30 Fact Finding Mission Advisory Group (Food Sovereignty Team)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Share Your Thoughts on the Climate Crisis

Asia is particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. According to the UN, Asia is the region most affected by natural disasters, almost 70% of which are climate-related. We have been experiencing the effects of climate change in the form of erratic rainfall, unpredictable flooding, rising sea levels, storms and hurricanes, droughts, rapid snow melt, mudslides and other climate variations. All of this is affecting our food production, its diversity and the quality of our crops and seeds. In fact, the majority food producers – small peasants, fisherfolk, pastoralists and gatherers - are the worst sufferers from the effects of climate change.

In the international discussions and agreements on climate change, agriculture has been identified as one of the causes of climate change. What do you think about this? Are small farming systems based on low- or no-chemical inputs contributing to climate change? If the answer is no, then we need to speak out. We need to emphasize that high input, chemically intensive, export-oriented agriculture is leading to cash crop monocultures and adding to the problems of climate change.

In fact, industrialization of agriculture has been adding to the climate crisis in several ways: through the establishment and operation of chemical-producing and polluting factories and through extensive fossil fuel-based road, air and sea transportation to carry both agriculture inputs and outputs (food products) over long distances (known as food miles). It is clear that if we wish to address the climate crisis, we need to have less corporate agriculture. But what is the alternative?

Biodiversity-based ecological agriculture (BEA), local food production and local consumption are practical solutions for mitigating as well as adapting to the climate crisis. These practices release lower amounts of greenhouse gases and allow the soil, water and air to recoup. Consumption of locally produced food minimizes transportation costs – both in terms of money and food miles. Moreover, locally and ecologically produced food is fresh, healthy and nutritious, and provides livelihood options for small food producers. Overall, this helps build community resilience against the impacts of climate change on food and the economy.

What are your thoughts on agriculture and the climate crisis? How should we address these problems? What are some strategies for promoting BEA and local food consumption? How can we promote safe, healthy, local food and link it to national and international advocacy initiatives?

Do you think people are becoming more concerned about the food they are eating and how it is reaching them? Do you feel the need to promote healthy local food availability? Do you feel it necessary to tell people what eating packaged food from the supermarket really means? Do you notice people missing some old food habits and items which have either been lost or are difficult to find, which need to be revived? Perhaps some traditional and local crops which were tasty and nutritious or were possible to grow in arid or flood conditions even? Do you think local food consumption would help local food producers? Is there a need to bring local food producers and consumers together?

Are you doing anything about it?

Please post your thoughts, comments, concerns and ideas. We’d welcome on this blog any information from your region – on climate change impacts, local resilience initiatives, ecological agriculture, safe food habits, local food traditions lost that need to be revived, including photographs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update on Global Climate Change Activities: UNFCCC and CSOs in Bangkok

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) will hold its last major intersessional meeting before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen in December 2009. The Post-2012 Climate Negotiation Session will be held from the 29th September to 9th October in Bangkok and represents a critical event for people’s organizations and climate activists. Leading up to COP 15, Bangkok should be used as a venue to push for real, pro-people solutions to climate change.

In parallel to the UNFCCC meeting, networks and CSOs have organized events in Bangkok under the name “Asian Peoples Solidarity for Climate Justice.” In addition to daily events, a one day conference entitled the Climate Conference of Asian Peoples Movements will be held on 3rd October. Organizers include: NGO COD, Kalikasan-PNE, Roots for Equity, APWLD, IBON Foundation, People’s Movement on Climate Change, Centre for Environmental Concerns, International League of People’s Struggle, PAN AP, Philippine Climate Watch Alliance in coordination with People’s Action on Climate Change (PACC).

Additional events include a People’s Parade (28 September), Media Conference and Oars Parade (29 September), Youth Kite Flying (30 September), Women’s Quilt (1 October) and Solidarity March (5 October).

Solidarity is needed to consolidate the position of different sectors, such as peasants, indigenous people, women and youth on climate change and related issues towards the formulation of a unified position regarding the formulation of the post-Kyoto Climate Agreement and COP 15.

Interested participants, sponsors, grassroots organizations/movements or volunteers can contact PACC at:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

See PAN AP Staff in Action

The Conference flickr site is up and running! Click on the photo to link to our first album - PAN AP Staff in Action. Be sure to check back regularly, we will be updating the photostream with new pictures from our partners, conference speakers and the latest PAN AP activities.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Greetings of Solidarity and Welcome!

With just over a month to go before the opening of the Asia Pacific Conference on Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change, PAN AP would like to welcome you to the official conference blog. Here you can find information on the speakers, plenary sessions, workshops and special events as well as updates from our partners, photos, videoclips, links and the latest news on climate change and the food crisis. You will also be able to find live updates of the sessions and workshops once the conference is underway.

The interrelated issues of climate change and the food crisis call for a united response from the people. Given the challenges faced by peasants, indigenous people, agricultural workers, women, fisherfolk, and consumers we must consolidate our strengths and lead the way forward in confronting the crises and bring about change.

The Asia Pacific Conference on Confronting the Food Crisis and Climate Change will provide a platform for learning and discussion featuring:

· The Threats and Challenges Posed by the Food Crisis and Climate Change
· People’s Movements, Resistance and Alternatives
· Consolidation of Plans and Strategies: Impacts and Actions for the Next 4 Years
· Cultural Presentations and Solidarity Building

More information can be found on the BEA Conference Webpage at:

Please check back regularly and post your comments as we countdown to September 27, 2009, in Penang!