march 2010 seminar
Expansion Seminar in Casablanca March 3-4, 2010
(document circulated on IC list feb 8th)
(document circulated on IC list feb 8th)
Draft Concept and Suggested Programme
The open space of the WSF, since 2001 has expanded across continents, across different sectors and across different thematic areas. The Expansion Commission’s principal objective has been to facilitate this expansion. The ability of the WSF open space to bring together diverse experiences and actors together, to be the space where new alliances are built and old alliances are strengthened, depends crucially on the constant renewal of diversity.
Expansion in the Context of the Challenges that the WSF faces
Today, the WSF faces several new challenges. The first challenge is to make the space a place where a renewed assault can be mounted on neoliberalism, which itself faces its greatest challenge in the last eight decades.
The second challenge lies in finding ways to make the space a place to build alternatives to the neoliberal system and forge common struggles that challenge the neoliberal system. This marks a shift from the earlier phase of the WSF when the space started as primarily a place to exchange experiences and share ideas. The challenge is particularly of importance given the multiple crises that threaten human civilization – the climate crisis, the environmental crisis, the food crisis, the crisis of democracy, etc.
While the responses to these crises will need to be built locally, regionally and globally through the participation of diverse movements, the WSF space has the task of being able to facilitate movements in their quest to build alternatives to the neoliberal architecture of the globe, which have been responsible for unleashing these crises on humankind.
The Third Challenge facing the WSF, as we move to Africa in 2011, is to build synergy with African movements and to take the process to different parts of the region. Not just that, the 2011 WSF is also an occasion that the WSF needs to use to build connections with African movements in different parts of the globe – Asian, Latin American, European.
The ability of the WSF space to successfully address these challenges is crucially dependant on the open space being populated by the entire diversity of movements and alternatives that face these challenges across the globe. If the WSF space does not, in adequate measure, represent this diversity, then the discussions and actions decided upon in this space are of limited relevance.
The WSF, in order to be relevant, in this period of multiple crises, must have within it the myriad voices that are concerned about the crisis. For this to happen, movements and groups from different regions, sectors and thematic areas need to be facilitated to be part of the open space.
Over the last decade very many global, regional and local movements and groups that stand in opposition to neoliberalism have been part of the WSF space. What started in 2001 as primarily an initiative of groups in Latin America and Europe has spread to different parts of the world.
However, in this period, several groups have also reduced their engagement with the WSF open space. The WSF has no method of compelling groups to be part of the WSF, neither can its intention be so. The only way to attract groups to be part of the WSF space is to make the space attractive to groups, to construct the space in such a manner that movements and groups see the open space as an opportunity to strengthen their own work and their own actions.
Tasks for the Expansion Commission
In order for much of the above to happen the Expansion Commission has a major role to play. A substantial portion of its role intersects with the work of the other Commissions – Methodology, Strategy, Communication and Finance.
The Expansion Commission needs to work with the Methodology Commission to ensure that the overall methodology of the Forum promotes inclusive participation and the opportunity for movements to build alternatives and plan actions.
With the Strategy Commission, the Expansion Commission needs to develop ways of addressing the concerns of movements and groups about the unfolding crises and the facilitation of co-ordinating the responses to them.
The Expansion Commission needs to plan how communication about the WSF and within the WSF can best facilitate wider and more vibrant participation.
With the Finance Commission the Expansion Commission has the task of promoting access by the largest number, especially of those who have little or no resources to travel and participate in Forums.
In addition the Expansion Commission has the task of planning its core tasks, which include:
- Expansion in Different Regions of the world
- Expansion in different sectors, such as labour, gender and indigenous peoples’ movements
- Expansion in different thematic areas such as environment, education, health, etc,
The Expansion Commission has also been engaged in trying to ensure that the International Council of the WSF represents in the true sense the large diversity of movements and groups that come together in the WSF space. Towards that end the Commission has initiated measures to open representation to regions, sectors and areas that are not adequately represented in the Council.
The Commission has also attempted to find resources to facilitate participation by groups that have limited or little resources. These are the various areas of work that the Expansion Commission needs to review.
Given this, the following agenda is suggested for the Expansion seminar in Casablanca” 3rd March
9.30 – 11.00 Brief Presentation on the Tasks before the Expansion Commission Discussion on the Presentation
11.15 – 13.15 Reports on the WSF process in different geographic regions, and gaps that exist. Discussions on ways to fill gaps and cover newer areas
14.15 – 16.00 Presentation on the WSF process in different sectors and thematic areas followed by discussion on ways to be more inclusive and to re-engage movements that are engaging less with the WSF today
16.15 – 17.30 Report on the present IC – attendance, representation etc Discussions on ways to make the IC more representative
9.30 – 11.00 Common areas of work with Other Commissions – Presentations followed by discussions
11.15 – 13.00 and 14.00 – 15.00 Towards Dakar 2011 Presentation by Africa Social Forum on proposals for expansion and mobilisation Discussions
15.15 – 16.30 Proposals for mobilisation in other areas and in different sectors for Dakar 2011
Note: The Discussions at the seminar can be collated as a document of the Expansion Commission for future guidance for the work of the WSF