World Social Forum

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The World Social Forum (WSF) is an annual meeting, based in Brazil, that defines itself as "an opened space – plural, diverse, non-governmental and non-partisan – that stimulates the decentralized debate, reflection, proposals building, experiences exchange and alliances among movements and organizations engaged in concrete actions towards a more solidary, democratic and fair world....a permanent space and process to build alternatives to neoliberalism".[1] It is held by members of the alter-globalization movement (also referred to as the global justice movement) who come together to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their issues. It tends to meet in January at the same time as its "great capitalist rival", the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This date is usually picked in hopes that having a meeting that promotes alternative answers to world economic problems opposite the World Economic Forum will help the WSF's ideas get better coverage in the news media.



Originated by Oded Grajew, the first WSF was held from 25 January to 30 January 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, organized by many groups including the French Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC). The WSF was sponsored, in part, by the Porto Alegre government, led by the Brazilian Worker's Party (PT). The town was experimenting with an innovative model for local government which combined the traditional representative institutions with the participation of open assemblies of the people. 12,000 people attended from around the world. At the time, Brazil was also in a moment of transformation that later would lead to the electoral victory of the PT candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The World Social Forum is a self-conscious effort to develop an alternative future that can be supported by the variety of participants as demonstrated by the charter: "Reinventing Democracy". This "reinvention" has been described as "the radical transformation of the existing class, gender and racialized relations of power that prohibit the full functioning of democracy".

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