Who will be the 80,000 people expected at the WSF 2016?
We anticipate that the participants will be people who believe that change is urgently needed in our societies and who want to do something about it. They will come because they want to learn and share knowledge, strategies, stories, initiatives and their best humor. The question remains a pertinent one, that we will only be able to answer in fall 2016, after an evaluation process that we are planning.
We are convinced that participants will come from different backgrounds: members of organizations and various associations, stakeholders within social movements and citizens that want to play an active part in the construction of alternatives for another world. During the first WSF in Porto Alegre in 2001, the eight organizations of the organizing committee were planning to receive around 3,000 participants. Nearly 20,000 people finally came. Nearly 7 times more. That’s what’s magic about the World Social Forum. Many of these new participantswere citizens involved in different causes, aware of the issues and challenges of our time, and clearly motivated by a desire to come together to collectively build transformative proposals, linked to social movements carriers change. What is important are the efforts we intend to deploy, together, to converge our networks to bring our solidarity in action, to achieve our common goal of changing the world and not to reproduce relations of power and competitive logic that we denounce otherwise.
In terms of demographic participation, the numbers that we have from other Forums indicate that 80% of the people attending come from the local area. This points out indeed how difficult it is to travel for most of the world’s population (we are developing a mobility campaign for the WSF 2016 that will be soon posted to our website www.wsf2016.org). In Quebec, many people have demonstrated a critical conscience in the last years by participating in many different demonstrations and being socially involved. The support of the different actors that have organized such events is definitely welcomed and sought.
Is the WSF 2016 rooted in social movements?
The scope of what we aim to do together is to build bridges between actors of civil society(which is a hybrid and dynamic body). If we want to make a change in this world ruled by amoral economical-political institutions, we need to listen to each other, get beyond our differences, share the power and act respectfully. We need to cherish the integrity of our conscience, and nourish humbleness.
The 215 organizations, social movements and activist groups that support us, should become thousands. The work is huge, indeed. It is motivating to see that many of them are already active in the different open working groups of the WSF collective or have created an autonomous committee (youth, health, education, environment, alternative economies, handicap, decolonization, etc). If you want to get involved in one of these or create a new one please mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The WSF 2016 in the “North”…
We are aware of the fact that this Forum being held in a country that has strict immigration policies is an enormous challenge. We are working hard to develop and follow a strategy that will facilitate the accessibility of the WSF 2016 for people around the world needing visas (soon available on our website). For example, all canadian embassies, consulates and other entry points are notified that the World Social Forum will occur in Montreal next year. Thus, they will know in advance that many visa applications will be made in the months to come. Also, we will have a team to give technical support for visa applicants.
A new government in Canada…
Moreover, the last federal elections that ended with the fall of the conservative government, in power for nearly 10 years, should be seen as a great opportunity. It is clear that the situation has changed in Ottawa and we are doing advocacy with Prime Minister Trudeau on the issue of visas, now that he has constituted his government. We believe that his willingness to restore Canada’s image on the international scene, and his aim to practice positive politics through dialogue, will be helpful.
The WSF 2016 : contributing to the process of positive change
We are working towards our dream that this World Social Forum be a diverse, rooted in social movements, meaningful and colorful gathering that will have a lasting impact on those participating.
The participants expected at the WSF 2016 will experience more than an event in August 2016: they will grow stronger through a process before, during, and after the Forum, and they will experience a positive impact on their actions and networks.
How can we hold a real WSF 2016 on those conditions?
Tens of thousands were mobilized in 2001 at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec. Hundreds of thousands marched against the Iraq war in 2003, and during the Quebec Spring 2012. It’s up to us to insufflate the vitality of our networks into the WSF to make it a success. Unity is strength.
Mobilization process through social forums
The WSF collective has been actively present in the different Social Forums in Quebec and the world, convinced of the positive outputs of the collaboration between Forums. For example, during the People’s Social Forum process, the Collective was a constant actor. We were present in all the meetings of the PSF Expansion commission of Quebec, and organized more than a dozen activities and convergence moments before and during the PSF of Ottawa and Toronto. We now have a constant presence in the Steering committee of that structure. Thanks to the PSF we strengthen our dialogue with people and organization within the First Nations of Canada, and are proud to acknowledge the importance of their input into the WSF 2016 process.
We want to feed the process of mobilization and communications of the WSF 2016, building on the substantial convergence work done across Canada through the process of PSF. Believing in the spirit of articulation and strengthening between Social Forums, it is essential for us to rely on the process of PSF to mobilize the rest of Canada. It is in this perspective that the PSF process is a fundamental element of our work, and this is why we participate in its Steering committee and we warmly welcomed the decision of the AG to establish Toronto a solidarity fund to facilitate the participation of Canadians, including representatives of First Western Nations, the WSF 2016 in Montreal.
Who will pay the funds that the project requires?
A third of our budget will come from the individual registrations ($20 until march, and $40 after. People with low incomes can request 10$). We were cautious in our previsions, considering that 25 000 participants will acquit registration fees (including pre-inscription, regular inscriptions, and solidarity inscriptions), not to increase financial risk of the WSF 2016.
Another third is being searched in-kind contributions (for instance, UQAM, a university that has agreed to host the WSF, will be opening 100 to 125 rooms for free, and the city of Montreal will allow us to us its mobile installations and its services . The last third will come from government programs, from organizations (unions, NGO’s, different associations and civil society organizations), and from responsible economic actors.
The following document presents the WSF 2016 project. You can see our budget on pages 9 and 10:
What are the political objectives of the WSF 2016?
There are different political objectives in a WSF, depending who is speaking. That is the beauty of it.
Each participant, every organization, every social movement must perceive the WSF as a tool to develop campaigns, promote solutions, expand networks and increase political scope. The WSF should be seen as an incubator of initiatives, a catalyst for collective action. We share the view of the WSF Charter of Principles. Is is not the WSF that will change the world, but those who participate in it! The WSF 2016 should be taken by all those who wish to expand their capacity of action. This is in our view some of the political goals of the FSM method: strengthening capacity for action of civil society in all its diversity, facing the power of markets and governments when imposing their unique model. This implies multiple efforts for education, health, decent work, peace, an immediate action for the environement, amongst many others.
The WSF represents a specific paradigm in social mobilization, that is close to what Occupy or the Indignados were putting forward a few years ago. In this world where neoliberal thinking pushes everyone into the quest for efficacy, the WSF Collective chooses an active research of horizontality, which takes time. The necessity of opening a platform for recognition and convergence, with an importance given to the public space, could also be seen as a political objective.
What is important is not really the WSF itself, but the learning, the networking, the creativity and the change it encourages throughout the world. The process is as important as the event- or even more so.
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The Collective is growing, gathering now dozens of active volunteer people, and there are many organizational meetings every week. Organizing an event of that scope is definitely not an easy thing. But the energy of so many dreaming up the WSF, and putting personal time into its organization, is definitely empowering and invigorating. The Collective is actively researching how to welcome more people coming from many different fields, cultures and political perspectives – and we see this as an incredible opportunity to learn how to get closer, beyond the WSF 2016. This is why it is necessary and healthy that you send us constructive criticism, and get involved to help us meet your expectations. The Collective would be very pleased to meet before the end of the year with Ben Porter and any other person with constructive suggestions to share thoughts and get to concretely collaborate.
Another World is necessary, Together it becomes possible!
WSF 2016 Collective