RAG Asia-Pacific: Days to reflect, unite and build change for fishers’ communities
One year after their meeting in Bangkok in May 2022, the members of the Regional Advisory Groups for Asia and the Pacific reconvened in Negombo, Sri Lanka from the 5th to the 11th April. This time, the RAG Asia members were joined by 10 SSF representatives from various countries, including Thailand, Sri-Lanka, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan. The gathering also included representatives from the Global Advisory Group, as well as fishers’ representatives from Sri Lanka.
The meeting kicked off with a field visit to three different fishing communities in Negombo Lagoon: Sea Street, Negombo Lagoon, and a meeting with SSF Women at Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization. This firsthand experience allowed participants to better understand the realities faced by these communities.
One of the main highlights of the meeting was the discussion of the Regional Assessment Report on the SSF Guidelines’ Assessment in Asia and the Pacific. Prior to its official launch on the 6th of March, the RAG Asia and its allies had the opportunity to collectively analyse and deliberate on the report’s findings.
Following the report launch, a three-day capacity building session and peer-to-peer exchanges were conducted. The training initiative, led by the IPC Working Group on Fisheries aimed to strengthen and equip current and emerging leaders of small-scale fisheries movements with a comprehensive understanding of the political and economic landscape they operate in. Participants were provided with tools to analyse and advocate for the rights of SSF Peoples to secure their livelihoods and rights. The training was supported by FAO and SwedBio and with the supportive collaboration of Crocevia.
The training agenda for the RAG Asia included sessions on the current economic system and the challenges of the current food systems, the Human Rights-based approach (HRBA) and the Right to Food, and advocacy strategies. Expert speakers facilitated these sessions, which were supplemented by group discussions and feedback from the attendees. Presentations on UNDROP and UNDFF, as well as Fishers’ rights, further enriched the training program.
The training sessions and the discussions during the six-day gathering fostered solidarity and unity among the participants and reinforced their commitment to collaborative regional efforts to boost changes in favour of SSF.
Overall, the meeting provided a valuable platform for knowledge sharing, capacity building, and strategizing, empowering the participants to work together at the regional level to drive meaningful transformations in favour of small-scale fisheries.