There were six days of myriad discussions, political debates, and the presentation of proposals to make the world a better place to live. More than 150 thousand people attended the V World Social Forum (WSF), which just ended in Porto Alegre, capital city of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil.
During a week there were 2,500 activities held in the 11 thematic spaces spread out along the four kilometers of the so-called “world social territory.” The numbers for the event in Porto Alegre surpassed the expectations of the organizing committee.
According to Cândido Grzybowski, member of the organizing committee and director-general of the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses (Ibase), the V WSF was distinguished by the variety of debates involving new themes.
“We had a Forum that represented more renovation in terms of discussions; ideas were not repeated. There was a lot of new debate, many ideas, and a greater degree of vibrancy in the activities, even the smaller ones, which attracted a lot of participation,” Grzybowski affirmed.
For Francisco Whitaker, of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops’ (CNBB) Justice and Peace Commission, also a member of the organizing committee, the 352 proposals submitted as the final result of the Forum don’t become a dead letter with the conclusion of the debates.
“The Forum constitutes a huge forward step. The participants brought concrete actions to the two thousand activities. The approach of drawing institutions and organizations into close proximity prior to the Forum was maintained here, during the moment of greatest concentration, and will continue afterwards to achieve further gains,” he emphasized.
Beginning in 2006, the WSF will adopt a decentralized format. A single city will not be the site of all the Forum’s events, as has been the case in all the editions of the Forum up to now.
The Forum will take place in sequence, on different dates. “The first Forums will be held simultaneously with the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, and will represent the kickoff.
Later, in April, at the meeting of the International Council of the Forum at various locations around the globe, discussions will be held on the next Forum. And in 2007, the Forum will return to a unified format, in Africa,” Whitaker explained.
So far, only Venezuela and Mexico have expressed interest in hosting parts of the World Social Forum. According to Whitaker, the format of the WSF remains to be decided, as well as how many cities will be able to host the event simultaneously.
“To start with, there might be even more than three cities. And there is a proposal for Venezuela to be one of them, but nothing has been confirmed,” he affirmed.
For Grzybowsky, how efficient the new format will be for discussions at the Forum can only be determined after it is put into practice.
“We will suffer in the realm of ideas. Moving to a new place is like starting over. This interplay between what we are doing and the new location is something we are learning to deal with, since some of those who were here will not be going,” he observed.
In one aspect the Ibase director believes that the Forum will become more democratic: in the participation of a larger number of people from different parts of the world.
“In terms of the diversity of the participants, this is our goal: to be able to involve more people in regions and areas from which we have drawn fewer people.”
Translation: David Silberstein