At issue is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, which demonstrators claim greenwashes many environmental and workers’ rights concerns.

BySunita Sohrabji

(photo courtesy of the International Women’s Alliance)


Thousands of climate and labor activists will stand on the perimeters of Secret Service security zones here Nov. 12 and 15 to make their concerns heard to global leaders and CEOS attending the week-long Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

At least 50 organizations, led by the International League of People’s Struggles, are participating in the protests. The demonstration Nov. 12 will begin at the Embarcadero Plaza at 12 pm. Participants will then march towards the Moscone Center where the APEC forum is being held.

Another demonstration is planned for Nov. 15 morning at 7 am, beginning at the Powell Street BART station. President Joe Biden is expected to address the APEC Forum that day, and business leaders from around the world will attend the by-invitation-only two-day CEO Summit. Protest organizers told Ethnic Media Services they hope to be able to stand directly in front of the Moscone Center at both demonstrations to make their concerns heard to global leaders.

However, Secret Service has created a 2-mile security zone around the Moscone Center, wreaking havoc for residents and workers in the area, who will have to show identification which states that they live or work there. Many small businesses within the security zone have complained about the disruption of service to their clients and the potential loss of revenue.

“It is preposterous for Secret Service to think they can deny us access to peacefully demonstrate on public streets,” Nik Evasco, a spokesperson for the Climate Bloc of the No on APEC Coalition, told EMS. “We are using our First Amendment rights to bring our demands front and center for the whole world to see.”

“It’s wrong for world leaders to say we don’t have a right to protest. We are literally fighting for a better future,” said Evasco.

Climate, Labor Concerns fuel APEC protests

At issue for the climate and labor activists is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, which the US launched May 23, 2022 in collaboration with 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The countries include: Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Collectively, the US and its IPEF partners represent 40% of the world’s GDP. IPEF was launched without Congressional approval.

IPEF greenwashes many environmental issues, including opening up natural reserves in participating countries for exploitation by US corporations, said Evasco.

The Climate Bloc on the No to APEC Coalition is demanding that world leaders set a deadline by which their countries will no longer use fossil fuels. It is also calling for all APEC countries to take action to end the disproportionate impact climate change has on communities of color in their own nations and globally.

The bloc is also demanding APEC countries sign the “Climate Peace Clause,” which would end corporate attacks on climate action. “Corporations and business interests should not be able to use their profits to challenge environmental laws, trample on the lands of indigenous people, and continue to pollute our water and air,” said Evasco.


Donna Denina, a spokesperson for the International Women’s Alliance, told EMS IPEF purports to create better conditions for workers, especially women. “But, in fact, the conditions of workers are getting worse,” she said. Leaders at the CEO Summit are expected to discuss initiatives that will increase the exploitation of workers, including subjecting them to increased surveillance via artificial intelligence, she said.

The IPEF treaty circumvents Congressional approval so that trade deals have a faster time frame, said Denina. While trade liberalization reaps more profit for APEC countries, closed door trade negotiations can be made with scant oversight or regulation, said Denina.

Left out in the dark

The labor activist said she and other activists would like to sit down with CEOs to discuss their concerns, but have been denied a seat at the table, specifically the CEO summit, a star-studded event featuring luminaries from tech, finance, and pharma, along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and California Governor Gavin Newsom. “They have shut the door in our faces. We have been left out in the dark,” said Denina.

“The trade agreements coming out of the APEC forum are exactly the sort of neo-liberal logic that has kept the world collectively oppressed,” Renuka Garg, spokeswoman for the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, told EMS. She characterized such agreements as supporting capitalism, over-consumption, and colonization of indigenous lands.

“Climate action will not occur with more globalization,” said Garg, expressing her doubts that any meaningful climate agreements would emerge from the summit.

“APEC’s free trade agenda will harm millions of workers, women, and migrants in the US and across the Asia-Pacific, yet those who will be most impacted are not at the table,” said Rhonda Ramiro of the No to APEC Coalition, in a press statement. “We are organizing this counter-summit and mass mobilizations to expose APEC’s false solutions and build a movement to address the very real crises of climate change, economic crisis, and militarization.”

“APEC is simply a tool of big business and the ruling elite to increase their profits at the expense of people and the planet,” said Brandon Lee of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. “Contrary to the city’s branding, APEC will not be epic. It will be a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars and it will only result in further worker exploitation and environmental destruction.”

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