01/17/2007, 00.00
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM

World Social Forum set to begin in Africa

Starting Saturday tens of thousands of people will meet in Nairobi to discuss solutions to some of the major problems associated with globalisation and development like exploitation, marginalisation and poverty. Caritas internationalis and the Jesuit Refugees Service will be among them.

Nairobi (AsiaNews) – Thousands of representatives of civil society responding to the cry “Another world is possible” will meet in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on January 20-25 for the first World Social Forum (WSF) in Africa. The meeting will see various secular and religious groups and organisations come together to discuss their respective ways of coping with the problems related to globalisation, all with the shared goal of creating a society and promoting forms of development that are based on justice, human rights, solidarity and democracy, this despite a past record in which WSF meetings often turned into sterile ideological debates. Anywhere between 80,000 and 120,000 are expected.

The WSF will precede by just a few days the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland (January 24-28) which will draw top business and political leaders to discuss how to improve the global economy.

For the WSF, also known as the Porto Alegre Forum after the Brazilian city where it was first held in 2001, the WEF excludes the poor and the marginalised and does not take into consideration their needs.

“We must avoid converting the converted. This is the continent [Africa] where the capitalist economy has wrecked more havoc, where the issue of access to and use of natural resources is the most acute as are the problems of the debt and food independence,” one top leader said in explaining the reason for the African location.

During the five-day event HIV-AIDS, migration, war, work, sexual and social discrimination will also be debated. A World Day of Action is also planned for January 2008 ahead of the next WSF meeting which is scheduled for 2009 in another, yet-to-be-chosen, city in the world’s south.

Previous WSFs were held in Porto Alegre (2002) and Mumbai (2004).

Various Jesuit groups, including the Jesuit Refugees Service, will be among the various Catholic organisations attending the forum in Nairobi; so will Caritas Internationalis, national Commissions for Justice and Peace and national Bishops’ Conferences.

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