Asia-Pacific Working Group

APWG brings together approximately 20 Canadian NGOs involved in human rights, democracy and development in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Asia-Pacific Working Group

In this section:

2012 Activities

2011 Activities

2010 Activities

2009 Activities



2012 Activities


Audio recording of Jack Litster’s presentation on the APWG agrofuels discussion paper

Jack Litster (CCIC) presented the APWG agrofuels discussion paper in a webinar on December 20, 2013 and at the 2012 Conference of the Canadian Asian Studies Association (CASA) in November 2012. The audio recording of the November presentation is now available on the website of the CIRDIS (Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en développement international et société).


APWG Webinar: Agrofuels in Asia – Production, Impacts, International Incentives & Canada’s Role - 20 December (1:00pm to 2:30pm)

Jack Litster presented a webinar based on a discussion paper produced by the APWG and will discuss the patterns of agrofuel production in Asia, global incentives for production, and Canada’s position on the issue.



Briefing on the New ADB Accountability Mechanism Policy - 7 December (12:00p.m. to 2:00p.m.)

The Asian Development Bank & APWG held a briefing on the ADB’s new accountability mechanism policy on December 7. Mr. Rusdian Lubis, Chair, Compliance Review Panel concurrently Head, Office of the Compliance Review Panel (OCRP), and Mr. Geoffrey Crooks, Principal Compliance Coordination Specialist, OCRP facilitated this briefing session for Canadian NGOs, think tanks and academes. A discussion period followed the presentations. The event was held at the office of Inter Pares.


Agrofuels in Asia

Jack Litster (CCIC) presented the APWG agrofuels discussion paper at the 2012 Conference of the Canadian Asian Studies Association (CASA) in November 2012. A link to the audio recording of the November presentation is now available on the website of the CIRDIS (Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en développement).

Read the APWG policy report:
Agrofuels in Asia: Production, Impacts, International Incentives and Canada's Role

You can also read Jack's blog on this topic:
False Hope: The Harmful Promotion of Agrofuels in Asia and Canada


APWG Webinar: North Korea after Kim Jong Il- Prospects for Change and Engagement - 25 October 2012

Matthew Reichel, co-founder of the East West Coalition, gave a presentation on North Korea's domestic economic situation, international trade, education and willingness to try new approaches in these fields since the death of leader Kim Jong Il. He discussed the prospects for economic reform, social change and opening under the new Kim Jong Un regime and the need for successful, carefully planned engagement. 


Feature article from APWG Bulletin:

Resistance in Tibet:  Self-immolation and protest
By Carole Samdup – Canada Tibet Committee
30 August 2012

On August 27, 2012, reports that two teenage boys had self-immolated in eastern Tibet were confirmed through eye-witness accounts.  Their act of desperation brings the total number of self-immolations in Tibet since March 2011 to 51, of which at least 42 have been fatal.  The escalating trend of self-immolations – especially this summer – represents an unprecedented wave of extreme protest on the high plateau.

The self-immolations have been accompanied by a stark increase in mass protests and security crack-downs.  A new wave of protests broke out in January 2012, with demonstrators calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. Chinese security forces responded to these peaceful protests by opening fire on demonstrators, killing at least five Tibetans and seriously injuring many more. Foreign journalists have been banned from travel in the region and restrictions on civil liberties have been imposed. 

The Canada Tibet Committee, along with a global coalition of more than 185 Tibet support groups, is urging governments around the world to work together in an effort to resolve the conflict which has festered for decades.  The forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly, both of which meet in September, would provide an important opportunity to discuss possible joint action including a formal request for an international fact-finding mission to Tibet and the creation of an international contact group to address systemic violations of human rights in the region.

Sign a global pledge and petition for Tibet.
View an updated timeline and map of the self-immolations.

Feature articles for the bulletin from APWG members are welcome at any time. Please send your short articles to Denis Côté or Jack Litster


APWG Webinar - Holding Government Accountable: Social Mobilization and the Right to Information Legislation - 5 July 2012 (12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT)

Rezanur Rahman from the Bangladeshi NGO, Nijera Kori, spoke about their work organizing poor and marginalized populations in villages throughout 18 districts of the country. Nijera Kori currently works with over 200,000 women and men, organized in over 9,000 groups in almost 1,300 villages. Through collective actions they have: recovered land and water bodies illegally occupied by economic elites; gained access to state land for landless farmers; negotiated better wages with local employers; improved access to social programs. With the introduction of Right to Information legislation, Nijera Kori saw a new and important instrument for the poor to hold government accountable.  Rezanur was closely involved in organizing a bottom-up approach to improving governance and accountability.

View the presentation by Rezanur Rahman.

The APWG would like to thank Inter Pares for helping to organize this webinar.


APWG Annual Consultation with CIDA's Asia Branch

APWG members attended the June 2012 Annual Consultation with CIDA’s Asia Branch.

CIDA Representatives at this meeting included Jeff Nankivell, Regional Director General of Asia Branch, as well as several several other directors. The purpose of this meeting was to provide a space for APWG members to meet with senior staff of CIDA’s Asia Branch to find out their priorities for various countries in Asia. The meeting included both a one-hour plenary session and one-hour parallel breakout sessions by geographic region.


APWG webinar - “Has economic liberalization in India increased inequalities, fuelled corruption and weakened democracy?" – June 7, 2012

Prashant Bhushan gave a webinar on the consequences of economic liberalization in India. Mr. Bhushan is an Indian activist and lawyer specializing in human rights and environmental issues. He is involved in several civil society organizations and campaigns in India, including the organization India Against Corruption and the National Campaign for People's Right to Information.


APWG webinar - Human rights in the context of ASEAN – April 30, 2012

Ray Paolo Santiago, Executive Director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center (Philippines) and Acting Secretary General of the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, gave a presentation on the initiative to set-up the ASEAN human rights mechanism and the role played by civil society in the process, as well as current challenges and opportunities. Mr. Santiago gave his presentation by videoconference from Manila.

The Powerpoint which accompanied this presentation is available online on Slideshare.

The APWG would like to thank EQUITAS for helping with the organization of this webinar.



Dialogue with the Asian Development Bank – March 13, 2012

The APWG organized a meeting between members of the working group and Micheline Aucoin, the new Canadian Executive Director on the Board of the Asian Development Bank. The meeting provided an opportunity for members to share some of their concerns in relation with the activities of the ADB and to ask questions to Ms. Aucoin.


APWG Webinar: Political Change in Burma – March 7, 2012

Jack Dunford, Executive Director of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium, gave a presentation on the issue of political change in Burma. Mr. Dunford reflected on the implications of these changes for Burmese refugees and internally displaced persons, and on the role of the international aid community in this changing context.

The Powerpoint presentation of Mr. Dunford is available online on slideshare.

The APWG would like to thank Inter Pares for helping to organize this webinar.


APWG Webinar: Women's Economic Empowerment with a focus on Home-based workers in Pakistan – March 01, 2012

Samina Khan, Executive Director of Sungi Development Foundation, made a presentation on women's economic empowerment in Pakistan. The Sungi Development Foundation is a leading civil society organization working to improve the quality of life of the poor in Pakistan through a rights-based, participatory development approach.

The APWG would like to thank CHF for their help in organizing this webinar.


APWG Members Regional Meeting in Toronto – February 21, 2012

The APWG held a one-day member meeting in Toronto to look at the impacts of Canadian mining activities in Asia, and to discuss the issue of CIDA-supported partnerships between mining companies and Canadian CSOs.
The APWG would like to thank the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund for offering to hold this event in their office.

You can read the meeting agenda here.

A summary report of the event is available in the members’ section of this website.


2011 Activities


Land Grabbing in Asia: A Case Study from the Philippines - September 29, 2011

Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron gave a presentation on a specific case of land grabbing for biofuel production in Isabela province, Philippines. Ms. Nera-Lauron is a member of IBON International, which was part of an international fact finding mission to investigate this case. This event held in Montreal was organized jointly with the CÉTASE, the Network on Transnational Dynamics and Collective Action (REDTAC) and the Interdisciplinary Research Centre in International Development and Society (CIRDIS).

You can download the presentation of Ms. Nera-Lauron by following the link below.

Foreign Land Acquisition: Perspectives on Global Landgrabs (PDF of powerpoint)


Asia-Pacific Working Group 2011 Symposium: 
Climate Change and Agriculture in the Asia-Pacific - September 27, 2011

During the morning session, participants had the opportunity to learn about the way climate justice debates are framed in the Asia-Pacific and how Asian civil society is mobilizing around these issues, and to look at how Canadian CSOs are supporting this mobilization. The afternoon was a working session for APWG members that included a discussion on international negotiations on climate change and sustainable development and their influence on the production of biofuels in the Asia-Pacific.

Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron of the Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change was the keynote speaker for this event. The audio recording of her presentation can be downloaded by following the link below.

Audio recording of Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron’s keynote presentation(MP3)


Public Forum: Farming, Forests and Fuel – Southern Perspectives on Climate Change -September 26, 2011

The Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development in collaboration with CCIC’s Africa Canada Forum and APWG, and the Canadian Food Security Policy Group organized a public forum at the University of Ottawa on the topic of Farming, Forests and Fuel – Southern Perspectives on Climate Change.  In the context of international negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (in Durban, November 2011), and at Rio+20 (in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 2012), three international speakers from Asia, Africa and Latin America provided a general overview of peoples’ responses in the South to climate change and upcoming negotiations.

The presentation of Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron, the coordinator of the People’s Movement on Climate Change (PMCC), based in the Philippines, can be downloaded below.

A Southern Voice on Climate Change (PDF of powerpoint)


Climate Negotiations and Justice for Vulnerable Populations: Perspectives for COP 17 and Rio+20 - September 26, 2011

This learning conference was held in collaboration with the Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D), CCIC's Africa-Canada Forum, APWG and Canadian Food Security Policy Group. 

The conference sought to deepen civil society understanding of key policy debates in upcoming international negotiations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17), to be held in Durban, South Africa, November 28-December 9, 2011, and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 4-6, 2012. The conference focused particularly on the implications for small farmers, indigenous peoples and other marginalized populations.

Click here to read the Conference Report (PDF 641KB)

Click here to view videos of conference presentations



APWG Webinar: Shrinking Space for Civil Society in Cambodia

Sam Ath, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, gave a presentation on the reduction of civil society space in Cambodia in the context of the controversial NGO Law that the government is seeking to adopt.

The APWG would like to thank Development & Peace for helping to organize this webinar. 


APWG Webinar: Land grabbing in Pakistan:  Impacts on the Environment and on Communities - June 3, 2011

Altaf Abro, Ph.D. in Public Policy at the University of Arkansas and program manager for a food security project with Oxfam Novib in Pakistan, presented on the impacts of land grabbing on the environment and on communities in Pakistan.

The impacts of Land Grabbing on the Environment and Communities
in Pakistan


Video-Part 1: Some Facts about Pakistan 

Video-Part 2: A Short History of Land Reforms in Pakistan



APWG Webinar: Civil Society Organizations in the Pacific Region: Some Reflections on Climate and Environmental Justice Issues – May 25, 2011

Emele Duituturaga, Executive Director of PIANGO (Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations), gave a presentation on the perspectives of CSOs of the Pacific region on issues related to climate and environmental justice.


PIANGO Presentation (PDF 1 MB) 

Tuvalu Climate Change Presentation (PDF 207 kb)

PIANGO Climate Change Position Paper 2009 (PDF 163 kb)

Final PRNGO Alliance Pacific Position on Climate Change (PDF 408 kb)

AMBO Declaration November 10, 2010 (PDF 59 kb)


APWG Webinar:  Land Rights and Marginalized Communities in India – April 19, 2011

Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Director of the Social Development Foundation in India, discussed the issues of land rights, land grabbing, and the struggle of marginalized communities in India.

Land grabbing in India

SDF India – Gazipur Initiative

SDF India – Koshish School

SDF India – Prerna Kendra at Fatehpur


Regional Meeting: APWG Montreal Meeting - March 30, 2011

APWG held a regional meeting in Montreal on March 30, 2011.  The meeting was well attended by APWG members and various research and advocacy groups with an interest in Asia. The objectives of this meeting were to provide a networking space for organizations and individuals with an interest in region, and to gather ideas and suggestions of activities to be undertaken collaboratively through the working group in the coming year.

Agenda (in French)(PDF)


Regional Meeting: APWG Toronto Meeting- January 26, 2011

APWG held organizing a regional meeting in Toronto on January 26, 2011. The objective of this meeting is to bring together different organizations (NGOs, faith-based organizations, unions and solidarity groups) with an interest in Asia to discuss potential areas of collaboration. The agenda is available online here.


2010 Activities


Spring 2010 Symposium

The Right to Land and Food: Land Investments, Food Security, and the Canadian Agenda in the Asia-Pacific

The objectives of this symposium were to discuss food and land-related issues such as land investments, food security and the Canadian agenda in the Asia-Pacific, and to identify priority areas for APWG’s work in 2010-2011. This public event held on April 15th at the Best Western Victoria Park Suites in Ottawa featured three panels and a total of nine speakers.

Final Agenda for the event (PDF 76 Kb)

Day 1 – April 15, 2010

Keynote – Overview of Land Issues in the Asia-Pacific Region
Outline: In his keynote address, the Executive Director of ANGOC, Don Marquez, provided an overview of the state of agrarian reform and landlessness in Asia. He also discussed the issue of food security in the region and highlighted the importance of agrarian reform as an ongoing political process to change the balance of power in the countryside and to ensure that the rural poor have access to land.

Panel 1 – Access to Land and the Right to Food in the Asia-Pacific
Outline: Speakers on this first panel spoke of the importance of improving the resource rights of the poor as a pre-condition for poverty reduction and rural economic growth; of access to land from the perspective of the human right to food and based on a research of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; and of the impact of industrialization, globalization, and climate change on access to land and food security in Viet Nam.

  • Land Reform: A Cross-Cutting Development Issue (PDF 63 Kb)
    Bruce Moore, Former Director, International Land Coalition (ILC)
  • Access to Land as a Dimension of the Human Right to Food
    Carol Samdup, Senior Advisor, Economic and Social Rights, Rights & Democracy
  • Viet Nam: A Food System in Crisis
    Tran Thi Thu Trang, Assistant Professor at the School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

Panel 2 – International Land Investments in the Asia-Pacific
Outline: In this second panel, speakers presented an overview of the recent trend of, and emerging movements of resistance to, foreign investors acquiring large areas of agricultural land for export food production in developing countries; an analysis of the problems underpinning the idea of an international Code of Conduct initiative to regulate land transactions; and the country case study of Cambodia which raised the issues of internal and urban land grabbing.

Panel 3 – Canada’s Agenda regarding Land Investments and Food Security
Outline: This third panel focused specifically on Canada’s agenda and priorities. The main issues discussed included CIDA’s food security strategy and the priorities of the Canadian Food Security Policy Group, as well as Canada’s trade and investment agenda in the Asia-Pacific.

  • CIDA’s Food Security Priority and the Food Security Policy Group (PDF 410 Kb)
    Sheri Arnott, Senior Policy Advisor, Food Security and Nutrition, World Vision
  • Canadian Trade and Investment Agenda
    Gauri Sreenivasan, Policy Coordinator, CCIC

    A summary report of all the presentations as well as the main discussion points was prepared by a consultant and is available for download:
  • The Right to Land and Food: Land Investments, Food Security, and the Canadian Agenda in the Asia-Pacific (PDF …)
    Sara Klimes, Consultant

Day 2 – April 16, 2010

On April 17, 2010 the APWG held its annual working session during which members discussed the priorities of the working group and drafted the 2010-2011 APWG Work Plan. During that day, Dominique Caouette, assistant professor of political science at the Université de Montréal, also gave a presentation on emerging trends in Asian regionalism.

2009 Activities


Fall Symposium: APWG Ottawa Symposium - October 2009

The “Convergence of Crises: Impacts of the Financial, Food, and Climate Crises in Asia” will be the focus of the Asia-Pacific Working Group” (APWG) Fall Symposium on October 19, 2009. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Walden Bello, Senior Analyst at Focus on the Global South and Member of Congress in the Philippines’ House of Representatives. The event will be held at the Best Western Victoria Park Suites, 377 O’Connor Street, Ottawa. The morning will be a public meeting featuring Dr. Bello and other speakers, the afternoon will be a working meeting of the APWG. Additional details are provided in the Agenda.

Agenda (PDF 84 Kb)

APWG Spring Symposium
The Symposium will be held March 30 - 31, 2009 in Strathmere, Ontario. The theme for the 2 day event will be civil society consultation, with the following panel discussions: 

  • The current context of Government-CSO Consultations regarding Canadian development policy in Asia and the Pacific
  • The Status of Human Rights Consultations in light of the Universal Periodic Review Process
  • Civil Society Consultation and the Asian Development Bank: The Case of the Environment, Indigenous People and Involuntary Resettlement Safeguard Policies

We look forward to having speakers from Indonesia and the United States to share their work on advocating for the improvement of the ADB's Safeguard Policies on the Environment, Indigenous People and the Involuntarily Resettled (IR), and a speaker from Cambodia expanding on a case study of IR due to an ADB project. The second day will provide the opportunity for country coalition updates and work-planning for the year ahead. (agenda) (PDF 29 Kb)


China in the World: Implications for Development

This public event is being organized by CCIC’s Africa-Canada Forum and APWG and the University of Ottawa’s African Studies Research Laboratory. Firoze Manji, Director of Fahamu and Pambazuka News, will speak on China in Africa, and Charles Burton, Associate Professor of Political Science at Brock University, on China in Asia. The conference will be held on April 16 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the University of Ottawa, Desmarais Building, room 1160. Interpretation in French and English will be provided. (biographical notes) (PDF 13 Kb) (poster) (PDF 23 Kb)

On November 23, 2007, APWG invited Dr. Walden Bello to Ottawa to speak on alternatives to regional development in Asia and on the trends and perspectives affecting the region for the coming years.

The session is available in the following audio and text files (in English only):

  • Regional Alternatives (PDF 34 Kb) (MP3 9.24 Mb)
  • Trends and Perspectives (PDF 25 KB) (MP3 6.49 Mb)
  • Q&A (PDF 33 Kb) (MP3 9.16 Mb)

Dr. Walden Bello is the 2003 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize), cited for playing a crucial and complementary role in developing the theoretical and practical bases for a world order that benefits all people. He has published extensively on globalization and local responses to its effects and is active in movements seeking alternative policy frameworks as options to existing, mainstream policy regimes.

Dr. Bello is a Professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines and the co-founder, former Executive Director, and senior analyst at Focus on Global South, a research and advocacy institute based in Bangkok. Dr. Bello was in Canada as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in International Development Studies at St. Mary's University in Halifax.

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