The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) called on mighty and developed countries to provide financial support for the world effort against climate change at one of several workshops held in the second APF working day in Hanoi on September 25.

The call was made in fears of Asia’s gloomy prospect on the environment at warnings that it would be a hotspot of natural disasters.

The continent is predicted to suffer some 40 percent of the world’s natural calamities and 60 percent of damages caused by climate change.

The participants echoed the result of the previous forum in Thailand in 2009, calling for the establishment of an ASEAN pillar on environmental consultancy and a taskforce on the environment to conduct research and consider initiatives on solutions to climate change in ASEAN.

They asked member governments to look for financial sources in support of environmental activities, natural disaster reduction and adaptation to climate change in the region.

Another workshop dealt with exercising the rights of the child and acting towards a caring, sharing and sustainable ASEAN.

It was reported at the event that ASEAN members have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and established an ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

However, children in the region are facing such problems as child trafficking, child labour abuse, illiteracy, poor life quality and diseases.

To address these problems, the participants entered into a hot debate on the challenges to the work for child protection and measures to facilitate ties among relevant non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) and relations of these NGOs and ASEAN member governments and the ACWC.

Farmers, agriculture and rural development were a major topic at another workshop where ASEAN people made several recommendations on sustainable agricultural growth. They called for more investment and application of scientific and technical advances and measures to protect benefits of farmers, especially the poor.

Natural resources, energy and water were also of ASEAN’s major concerns as participants at another workshop acknowledged that their countries have not yet fully tapped rich natural resources for national development.

They reached a consensus that natural resources are a national asset and the people have a right to be informed of the way how these resources are located and used.

Participants also raised concerns over the side-effect of development which has damaged the environment and means of incomes, led to climate change and put bio-diversity into disappearance which can not be revived.

ASEAN people also frankly spoke of human rights and democracy at another workshop, discussing measures to boost regional cooperation in protecting human rights and promoting the exercise of democracy in line with the ASEAN Charter.

Poverty reduction and social security are always a topic of top concerns at any ASEAN forum and the APF was not an exception where people called for stronger regional cooperation, establishment of a financial mechanism in individual member countries and the region as a whole.

Such a mechanism was a necessary step to alleviate poverty and ensure social security for all in the ASEAN community, they said.

ASEAN delegates gave recommendations on ensuring benefits of labourers, including developing and harmonising labour measures and polices in ASEAN countries and measures to support migrant workers.

At a workshop focusing on regional fishermen’s challenges, delegates from ASEAN farmers organisations, seafood associations and fishermen alliances shared experiences in coping with emerging challenges for fishermen in Southeast Asia at national and regional levels.

They called for promoting dialogues and cooperation to reach a consensus among nations, ensuring sustainable fishery development, improvement of living conditions and equal, humanitarian treatment for fishermen.

Regarding international financial system and development finance, delegates discussed impacts of the global financial crisis and resilience of ASEAN governments. They proposed recommendations on policies and actions to respond to challenges that the regional bloc is facing, as well as financial initiatives for education.

While at a workshop relating to ethnic minority groups and indigenes in ASEAN, the participants said it is necessary to respect fundamental rights of ethnic minority people, improve their living conditions, increase education and basic services such as education, health care, transport for them, and protect them in all aspects, ensuring their participation in policy and decision-making.

Also the same day, delegates took part in other workshops on issues relating to youth, the disabled, connectivity for a healthy future, refugees, role of women./.