We see Alternative Regionalism as one of the ways to break down hegemonic economic and political control globally, to monitor and seek solutions to the problems of the world for which globalisation has proved to fail to provide solutions, resulting instead in catastrophic crises that we have seen the world reeling under of late.
The program looks at current regional formations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), among others, and assess their effectiveness in creating regional centres of economic and political power based on complementarity. Do they help build alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation that give heavy emphasis on free trade?
The sub-programme also looks at experiences in other part so the world where there have been experiments and experiences in different kinds of regional cooperation. The emphasis is not just on governments but on peoples and on people-to-people alliance building and problem solving.
The world is facing a climate and environmental crisis with clear manifestations in Asia. As the most populated region on the planet, the impacts of climate change are expected to have severe consequences for the most vulnerable and poor. Droughts and floods have already intensified in Asia. There were 30 million climate migrants in 2010, with a predicted 700 million to be affected by climate change by 2025.
China has become the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases (although in relation to population it is far below Western countries), with India in a similar situation. The key questions are if and how Asia’s booming economies can shift from their present trajectory to a more equitable, ecological and democratic path. This is important not only for ensuring social development and democracy, but because the ecosystems and resources underpinning the livelihoods of the vast majority of people in Asia are being destroyed by “business as usual” economic growth.
The processes and status of negotiations in the UNFCCC do not reflect the urgent and necessary actions needed to stop and reverse climate change. Instead, false solutions based on carbon market mechanisms and the financialization of nature are being promoted. The finance required to address climate change is merely a promise from developed countries. The negotiations, instead of strengthening the commitments of developed countries, ridicule whatever value left in the Kyoto Protocol.
In parallel, a policy of global commodification of the services of nature is being promoted under the “Green Economy”. If this is implemented the crisis will deepen: it is not possible to apply market rules to nature’s functions. A new market of environmental derivatives will only create a new source of speculation in the current system.
description of this taxonomy term
Deglobalisation is the flagship program of Focus. Arising out of a felt need to articulate alternatives to neo liberal globalisation and capitalism, it spans practically all the Focus programs. It has 4 main components: Trade, Finance, Alternative regionalisms and Critical Discourse on Alternatives.
In the deglobalisation program our priorities are: monitoring the financial crisis and the policies of International Financial Institutions, finding alternatives to free trade and building alternative paradigms for sustainable development.
<a href="http://www.focusweb.org/content/paradigm-deglobalisation">Read more</a>
Over the last decade or so, free trade and investment agreements have been central instruments in Asia's quest to continue on and sustain the path to development and progress. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, the number of bilateral FTAs over the past decade increased more than 500 %, from 26 in 2000 to 182 agreements in 2011. The global economic crisis of 2008, which led to unprecedented trade contraction, particularly affecting countries that are well integrated into the global economy, put into serious question the viability of the export-led economic development model as the engine of sustainable economic growth. In the aftermath of the crisis however, the major economies seem to have made only small adjustments in their trade and economic policies, albeit reflecting a more aggressive and desperate push towards trade and investment liberalization via these bilateral and regional agreements.
Asia is in the crossfire of FTA negotiations from the EU and the U.S., approached through different strategies but with the same purposes. While negotiations for the EU-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement itself have stalled, bilateral agreements with individual ASEAN members continue to be pushed instead. Another important issue is the negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) between Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, United States, Vietnam, Brunei, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Japan. This free trade agreement will liberalize the region even more and serve as a basis for future negotiations with any country in Asia. Many proposals in the TPPA create more intellectual property restraints that will limit access to medicines.
Asia is a diverse and complex region, comprising nations and peoples with differing historical experiences, and distinct cultures interwoven with many regional threads. The region is home to immense natural and productive resources within its lands, water bodies, and forests, with environments that are as unique as the Himalaya Range, the deserts of Rajasthan, the paddy fields of the Mekong valley, the fisheries of the Andaman, and the rainforests of Borneo, as well as astounding micro-ecosystem diversities from rivers to valleys to mountainsides.
Asia is a region of tremendous wealth, which has seen the rise of mega cities, special economic zones for manufacturing and hi-tech industries, with China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam as emerging economic powers. But it is also known for its large populations, deep pockets of poverty and gross inequalities within and between its rural and urban areas. Asia's economic boom has largely been a consequence of intense exploitation of its human and natural resources by states and corporations..
Of particular concern is the alarming rise in land and water grabbing across the region, spurred by agricultural, industrial, infrastructure and financial investments, real estate booms, urbanization, extractive industries, REDD and the rapid erosion of indigenous seeds and their replacement by hybrids or genetically engineered seeds which impact on overall biodiversity. As landscapes are privatized and natural resources commodified and sold to distant markets, entire communities are being dispossessed of their homes, wealth and assets, and being pushed into precarious livelihoods. Distress out-migration to slums increases while the rich and diverse agricultural traditions and knowledge, many of which sustained the biodiversity and health of the environment, are lost.
Social movements, CSOs, academics and communities across Asia and worldwide often depend on Focus on the Global South as a leading resource in these areas, and we play a leading role internationally in the Land Research Action Network and the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, as well as locally across Asia.