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World Social Forum 

In january 2005 the World Social Forum held his fith edition in Porto Alegre. Supporters of a more responsible form of globalisation travelled from all over the world to Porto Alegre in search of solutions to the challenges of the present world system. Unions, NGOs, environmentalists, farmers, women’s movements and human rights organisations – a multitude of organisations and individuals from all over the planet - are turning themselves into a countervailing force to combat the effects of neo-liberal globalisation. 

The first World Social Forum stimulated public debate and offered up a broad range of ideas and alternatives. The next Forums continued along the same lines – still aiming to provide an arena for intellectual exchange – but also trying to use the different conferences to construct some common positions. The Forum is a means of creating and reinforcing links between the different organisations at national and international levels. As the World Social Forum was growing too large, plans were made to hold regional (continental) forums. The first European Social Forum was held from 6 to 10 November 2002 in Florence, and the first Belgian Social Forum was launched in September 2002.  

European Social Forum 

At the second meeting in Porto Alegre it was decided that the World Social Forum was becoming too large, and that it would therefore be a good idea to organise regional forums. The first European Social Forum was held - despite Berlusconi’s dissuasive tactics – in Florence. 

Work was organised around three themes, "Globalisation and Liberalism," "War and Peace," and "Human Rights and Democracy."  In the next editions of the European Social Fora in Paris 2003 and recently in London the central theme became "a social Europe".   

Belgian Social Forum 

Belgian Social Forum up and running!  Some 2000 sympathisers gathered together on Saturday 21 September 2002 to launch the Belgium Social Forum. Over 150 organisations had already signed up to the Forum’s Declaration of Principles. Belgian unions, NGOs, traditional social movements and new social organisations joined forces in a common project. We hope that the Forum will be a means of continuing the momentum generated over the course of the last years by the Social Forum in Porto Alegre, spreading it to the towns, villages, neighbourhoods, companies, organisations and schools of our country. "Another world is possible," remains our motto, and our goal the globalisation of justice, peace and solidarity. 

Despite the variety of subjects on offer there was clearly one overarching theme – the categorical rejection of the neo-liberal interpretation of globalisation. There was much debate and sharing of experience on topics such as education, the privatisation of social services, peace in the Middle East, poverty, the trade unions and Third World debt. But debate alone will not provide solutions. Actions will have to follow. Words alone will not be enough to convince politicians to act. Now that the first meetings of the Belgian Social Forum has been held, it is important to ensure that the process continues. 

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