31 Jan 2009
In stark contrast to the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place in icy Davos, its counterpoint event, The World Social Forum (WSF) is taking place in another hemisphere in balmy Belem, Brazil.
The differences between the two events don't end with the weather. At the WSF, social activists from all over the world and the most marginalized communities gather to discuss issues under the theme: "A better world is Possible."
At this year's event, which took pace from 26-29 January 2009, thousands of indigenous people from the Amazon basin travelled for more than a week to join social justice activists from around the world.
The ecological crisis is much larger than the financial crisis said one speaker at the 2009 WSF, which has specifically been held in Belem to highlight the ecological plight of people living in the Amazon. For more insight into this year's event, read this IPS report.
Some Background to the World Social Forum
At the beginning of 2001 in Doha, business and government leaders gathered on behalf of capital at the WEF and "mapped out the future," says New Zealand activist Jim Delahuntry.
At the same time, a counter conference was held in a town called Porto Allegre in Brazil, attended by thousands of people from all over the world. Delahuntry argues that the WSF emerged because people wanted to have a conference that was anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation and that could be the beginning of a better world.
The WSF has always just been a discussion, says Delahuntry. Many different issues are discussed from the plight of the homeless people in Brazil to the debt of the people in Africa.
Various WSF meetings have taken place in the years that followed 2001. Some of the other countries that have hosted the WSF include Kenya, Portugal, New Zealand and India.