This week, for the second time in a row, the World Social Forum (WSF) gathered in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab spring. During the five-day event, 70,000 delegates from more than 4,000 organisations representing 120 countries discussed a wide range of issues and topics including, climate justice, immigration, media freedom, women’s rights, refugees and energy.
A group from 350.org was in attendance to talk about climate justice, the growing divestment movement and the inter-sectionality between environmental, social, economic and political issues.
The WSF’s 10th global meeting is seen as the critics’ answer to the Davos World Economic Forum bringing together social movements from around the world to discuss grassroots struggles for political change.
The forum offers an arena beyond formal politics, a space where activists and civil society groups can explore alternative pathways to social, economic and climate justice. The bi-annual WSF, described by organisers as more a process than a conference, is the largest global gathering of activists and social movements.
The WSF grew out of anti-globalisation protest movements in the late 1990s. Since it first met in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2001, it has served as a space of reflection for groups and movements that oppose neo-liberalism and strive for social and economic justice.
Powerful social and environmental movements which claim alternative policies seeking social and environmental justice have erupted around the world. This year people have come together from around the world to consolidate efforts to reverse the global rush to oligarchic rule and environmental catastrophe.
Global efforts to defend the environment, end poverty and marginalisation, advance women’s rights, protect human rights, and promote fair and dignified employment are all being undermined as a consequence of the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few. The current clampdown on civil society taking place in many parts of the world is precisely because it represents a challenge to the nexus of money and power.
Activists at the WSF are clear that the different issues that have brought us into activism–whether social justice or climate justice, economic rights or civil rights–are all part of a common struggle for a world in which everyone matters and in which the power of ordinary people can challenge the people with power.
This is precisely why the WSF is so urgent and necessary.