The World Social Forum will be a new international arena for organizing against neoliberal policies and for building economic alternatives that prioritize social justice. It will take place every year in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the same period as the World Economic Forum, which happens in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of January.
The World Social Forum will provide a space for building economic alternatives, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening South-North alliances between NGOs, unions and social movements. It will also be an opportunity for developing concrete actions, to educate the public, and to mobilize civil society internationally.
The World Social Forum developed as a consequence of a growing international movement that has gained greater visibility since the mobilizations against the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI), which happened in Europe in 1998, the demonstrations in Seattle, during the WTO meeting in 1999, and the protests against the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, DC, and Prague, among others.
For decades, these international financial institutions have been making decisions that affect the lives of people all over the world, without being subject to any sort of democratic control. People in Third World countries, as well as the poor and excluded sectors of industrialized countries suffer the devastating effects of economic globalization and the dictatorship of international institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and the governments that serve their interests.
We need to continue pressuring these institutions to be accountable to our societies. Similarly, our governments must be made aware that this oversight will be exercised with increasing intensity over their actions. Many of us have struggled in our own countries, regions, or cities, thinking that we were isolated. Recently, we have begun to realize that together we can constitute a planetary archipelago of resistance. The World Social Forum represents a new opportunity toward the construction of an international counter-power.
Brazil is one the countries that has been greatly affected by neoliberal policies. At the same time, different sectors of Brazilian society are resisting these policies, in rural and urban areas, in shantytowns, factories, political parties, churches, schools, etc. The richness of Brazilian grassroots organizations represents a source of inspiration for the development of the World Social Forum.
The Brazilian Organizing Committee invites international networks of NGOs, unions and social movements to help us build the World Social Forum. We hope to receive support from organizations in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe with a commitment to contribute with this organizing process and to send delegations to Porto Alegre in January. We are asking for a special commitment from organizations in the First World to help funding delegations from their partner organizations in Third World countries, in order to guarantee diversity within the World Social Forum.
The World Social Forum will represent a historic moment for organizing and social change. Let’s build it together!
If you have not registered yet, please do so. Individuals need to be registered through their organizations. There are many ways to participate, but those who wish to give workshops should make their proposals as soon as possible. Mobilizing committees have been formed in some regions of the world, but not yet in the U.S.. If you wish to be part of the US committee please contact me – Carol Brouillet at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m also working on getting conference rate airfares for those coming from the US. If you haven’t registered, yet, but plan to go, and need an airline ticket, please let me know.