This year 2019, Thailand chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Thai CSOs will be hosting the Asean Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) on 13-15 September at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. For the first time, ASEC/RIPESS Asia is member of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and will put Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) as a major thematic topic of the conference.

Written by Chandra Firmantoko, Communications Coordinator, ASEC/RIPESS Asia

ACSC/APF is an annual gathering of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in ASEAN interfacing with the ASEAN Summit. Significantly, ACSC/APF 2019 is supported by the Thai government both financially and in logistics.

For the first time since it participated in the ACSC/APF 2012 (Cambodia was host country), ASEC/RIPESS Asia became a member of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and joined the Committee’s preparatory meeting in Bangkok on 1-3 May 2019 which attended by 70 RSC members. Membership in the RSC enabled ASEC/RIPESS Asia to put SSE as a major thematic topic of ACSC/APF.

Further, ASEC/RIPESS Asia was given a role in the Program Committee and in the Drafting Committee. Ms. Poonsap Tulaphan (Coordinator of ASEC Thailand, and the Thai Representative to the ASEC/RIPESS Asia Governing Board) represents ASEC/RIPESS Asia in the Program Committee. She will play a crucial role in allocating a workshop space for the theme of transformative economy. Meanwhile, Mr. Chandra Firmantoko (member of ASEC Indonesia and Communications Coordinator of ASEC/RIPESS Asia) got a role in the Drafting Committee. This provides an opportunity for Chandra to highlight SSE in the official statements of ASCF/APF.

The theme of ACSC/APF 2019 is “Advancing Peoples’ Movement for Justice, Peace, Equality, Sustainability and Democracy in Southeast Asia”. Under this overarching theme, there will be seven convergence spaces through which participants can share their experiences, tell their stories, and present case studies:  1) Human Rights, Democracy, and Access to Justice; 2) Trade Investment & Corporate Power; 3) Decent Work, Health & Social Protection; 4) Migration, Trafficking & Refugees; 5) Peace & Security; 6) Ecological Sustainability; and 7) Innovation and New Emerging Technology. Transformative economy or social solidarity economy will go under “Trade Investment & Corporate Power”.

Registration for ACSC/APF 2019 will be opened in July 2019. ACSC/APF 2019 will provide a meaningful and responsive platform through which the needs of the people and communities in the ASEAN region will be heard and responded to. It is the hope of the forum organizers  that ACSC/APF 2019 will advance the concept of  people-centered ASEAN, where the rights and roles of the CSOs and people in Southeast Asia will be respected in principle as well as in practice.