Home | Help | Search | Login | Register

mulonga.net forum  |  IT Centers  |  Binga Highschool Alumni Forum  |  Topic: Ecological Crisis: Next Challenge for World Social Forum « previous next »
Pages: [1] Print
Author Topic: Ecological Crisis: Next Challenge for World Social Forum  (Read 2876 times)
Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 819

« on: January 15 2010 »

Marwaan Macan-Markar interviews NICOLA BULLARD, member of the World
Social Forum’s international council

BANGKOK, Jan 13, 2010 (IPS) – Ten years after its founding, the World
Social Forum (WSF) has come to represent a rallying point for
activists and grassroots groups committed to shaping an alternative
world view.

“It is very important that we have this space for all of us to come
together and shape a vision that reflects our concerns,” says Nicola
Bullard, a senior associate of Focus on the Global South, a
Bangkok-based think tank championing issues that matter to people in
the developing world. “We have been able to build our own discourse,
our own thinking, our own legitimacy.”

“It is certainly an alternative to the elite, who build their own
spaces all the time,” adds the Australian national, who has been a
member of the WSF’s international council since its inception. “The
WSF is still relevant today.”

Yet the social movement – as opposed to a political party – has
evolved, taking on newer issues that have emerged, including concerns
over climate change, which dominates economic justice debates.

As it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the WSF will hold a
series of events that will kick off on Jan. 22 in Greater Porto Alegre
in southern Brazil. A programme of activities dubbed the “Greater
Porto Alegre 10 years Social Forum,” to be held on January 25-29 in
Brazil, will be one of the highlights of the celebration.

“Another world is necessary” to deal with the current ecological
crisis, observes Bullard, a Melbourne University graduate who has
worked on global trade, human rights and women’s issues in Australia,
Thailand and Cambodia.

IPS met Bullard at her book-lined office in the Thai capital for an
interview ahead of the next gathering of the WSF in Brazil.

Q: The World Social Forum (WSF) to be held later this month in Brazil
will be a milestone. Does the movement have much to celebrate?

A: Absolutely. When the first WSF was held in 2001, no one imagined by
2010 that there would be over 40 different social forums planned for
the 10th year. It is certainly a moment to celebrate and also to
reflect on what we have achieved and what we haven’t been able to
achieve and to look ahead at what we need to do next.

It is particularly timely given what happened in Copenhagen in
December during the climate change talks. There is a resurgence, a
critical momentum for economic justice that emerged during the talks.
There is a new energy, a new challenge that the WSF can build on.

Q: On the subjects of achievements, what do you hold out as success
stories of the WSF in the past decade?

A: The idea that the WSF is really a space that is ours. It is not a
space for protest or a space created in response to an official event,
such as at the WTO (World Trade Organisation) or IMF (International
Monetary Fund) meetings, where we have to gather on the margins. But
the WSF is a physical and political space created by us and for us and
the agenda is ours – a bottom-up process.

Secondly, the WSF has, through a lot of critical thinking and a pretty
open process, been able to grow over the years. There are different
kinds of events, different kinds of people attending, a diversity of
issues discussed and the very deliberate attempt to have a pretty
horizontal participatory and inclusive process.

Q: But has there been an attempt to measure such success, to say these
are concrete achievements linked to the WSF that it can be proud of?

A: This is the endless debate we have had, because some people would
argue that the impact of the WSF should be measurable by the actual
political changes on the ground, and that the WSF needs to be more
strategic and have clear objectives.

On the other hand, other people would argue that the WSF is an open
space, and that is its strength and particular beauty, where trade
unions and people from political organisations or indigenous people
can come together and share ideas and build common perspectives and

But there was a lot of momentum in the way the WSF positioned itself
against the (World Economic Forum) meetings in Davos.

During the meetings in Davos, the WSF was seen as an alternative event
that takes place in the South and where the agenda is very different
from what is discussed in Davos. The fact that more political leaders
want to be part of the WSF shows that it is an important place for
them to be seen and be associated with.

Q: Talking of Davos, where the captains of international trade and
commerce meet in the Swiss resort to plot the shape of the world’s
economy, let’s move toward the global financial crisis. The WSF
certainly had little part in what happened, but is there anything the
WSF stood to gain from this crisis?

A: I think the fact that the critics of the global financial system
were so readily at hand because there were academics and writers and
activists who had been talking about these for years needs to be
recognised. Suddenly these were the people journalists and the media
were going to. In that respect, the analysis and the critics coming
out of the WSF suddenly found a resonance in the public arena.

Q: Another issue the WSF sought to make its mark on was opposition to
the war in Iraq launched by former U.S. President George W. Bush. You
certainly failed to stop that U.S. invasion.

A: The WSF was important as a mechanism for making the February 15
(2003) global day of action against the war in Iraq such a strong
protest. The WSF provided a kind of legitimacy for the global actions
against the war. It was important in delegitimising the war.

Q: The current global concern, as you mentioned earlier, is climate
change. It is supposed to be on the WSF’s agenda in Brazil this month.
How will it be addressed?

A: The WSF has always said that ‘Another world is possible’. What the
climate change crisis tells us is that ‘Another world is necessary’.
It is very clear that the ecological crisis is a systemic problem. In
so far as the WSF is talking about alternatives, I think up until now
many groups at the WSF have concentrated very much on economics. We
need to enlarge that to accommodate the ecological frame and build
strong networks with indigenous movements and other sectors that we
have not worked with before.

I also think this will be an interesting challenge to the traditional
Left, which had a fairly materialist view, or somehow believed in the
idea that development means progress. But the ecological crisis is a
real challenge to that view. What does development mean if the price
you pay is the complete destruction of the eco-system?

Q: How truly global is the WSF 10 years after its conception? Does it
have a wide following in Asia?

A: Even up until now the WSF continues to be a very European- and
Latin American-dominated process. We have had several really good
social forums in Asia in places like (South) Korea, India, Pakistan
and even Thailand. But I don’t think the WSF has really dug deep roots
in Asia. That is my impression.

Q: Why?

A: There is a unity of common experience in Latin America and they
have two languages that unite vast sections of the continent. It is
difficult in Asia because of the many languages, because of the size
and the diversity. (END)

[Visit IPS TerraViva for global updates from the World Social Forum
2010 ... http://www.ips.org/TV/wsf2010/]

* Q&A: ”Copenhagen Was Great for Citizen Mobilisation” ...

* MALI: Mobilising in Defence of Migrants ...

* KENYA: Clash Over Abortion Rights in New Constitution ...

* ZAMBIA: Police Breaking the Law to Prevent Crime ...

* LIBERIA: Paper Rights Flimsy Protection ...

* ZIMBABWE: Constitutional Reform Resumes ...

* UGANDA: Railway Revival Planned ...

* COTE D’IVOIRE: Elections Under Threat Again ...

* MALAWI: Green Belt Initiative Taking Shape ...

Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa
Pages: [1] Print 
mulonga.net forum  |  IT Centers  |  Binga Highschool Alumni Forum  |  Topic: Ecological Crisis: Next Challenge for World Social Forum « previous next »
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.8 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC