WORLD SOCIAL FORUM (WSF) 2024: PREPARATORY MEETING OF BANGLADESH PROCESS
he world economic forum (WEF), a club of the power elites led by multinational corporations met at the snowy Alps of Davos, Switzerland to set the course of world development for global finance, unchecked capitalism, and the control of global politics to promote neo-liberal economic regime, a mechanism to earn profit over people. Incensed by the ubiquitous, uncritical, and unchecked promoter of the neo-liberal economy by the world economic forum (WEF), in 1999 two Brazilian activists Oded Grajew, who was working on corporate social responsibility, and Chico Whitaker, the executive secretary of the Commission of Justice and Peace, an initiative of the Brazilain Catholic Church decided to create an open space for the grassroots to gain a voice to critique the neo-liberal economy. With support from the government of Rio Grande do Sul, a committee of eight Brazilian organized launched the open space for grassroots named World Social Forum (WSF) in 2001 with a bold affirmation “Another World is Possible” at Porto Alegre, Brazil, and stood as an alternative and a challenge to the World Economic Forum, held at the same time. The expectation of the first WSF was that about 3,000 people attend, but instead 20,000 activists from around the world came to Porto Alegre to organize and share their visions of alternatives to a neo-liberal economy. WSF annual meeting drew the attention of alternative thinkers and activists around the world and eventually the meeting moved out of Latin America, Mumbai, Caracas, Nairobi, Dakar, and Montreal. Cumulatively, the WSF brought together millions of people using the open space of WSF to share their experiences and collective dreams for a better world.
As a learner participant in the movement against the finalization of the GATS round as well as the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a tool for to free movement of global trade for promoting a neo-liberal economic system, I observed the consequences of the re-shaping the global policies, strategies, and politics and eventually as an observer, I participated the World Social Forum, 2004 at Mumbai with thousand of Bangladeshi delegates. That was the first time to meet the activists of a global movement, particularly South Asian activists, and was inspired to join in a collective movement against the neoliberal economic regime. In 2011, the South Asian Social Forum (SASF) was held in Dhaka as part of the World Social Forum (WSF) as a collective effort of Bangladeshi CSOs and Asia-Pacific Social Movements. Online Knowledge Society with the support of Amanullah Aman of ActionAid Bangladesh and Pierre Jorge of FSM-WSF facilitated the Extended Social Forum (Online) where activists around the globe connected to the South Asia Social Forum (SASF). After a successful extended Social Forum for SASF, the Online Knowledge Society connects the Bangladeshi CSOs to World Education Forum and World Social Forum, Dakar.
Technological innovation has been made easy in online broadcasting and youth have been counted as important actors in the development arena which was our major agenda for change. On the other hand, the emerging activists, particularly the youths are not getting adequate learning spaces to feed their thought to develop a critical overview of the contemporary development approach as well as a neo-liberal economic system. Eventually, youths are becoming a tool for creating profit over people as well as creating an unjust world.
In this context, Amanullah Aman and Abdul Awal on behave of the South Asia Social Forum (SASF) called a meeting of Bangladesh CSOs on 15 February 2023 at Wave Foundation Meeting to share an overview of the Asia Pacific Process of the World Social Forum. Nepal is going to convene the next World Social Forum (WSF) in March 2024. Asia Pacific Social Forum (APSF) process has convened two organizing meetings in the last two years – one in Bangkok and another in Katmandu and decided to convene World Social Forum 2024 in Nepal. Bangladesh will participate collectively with a bigger noise, the meeting says. So the meeting decides to convene another hybrid meeting on 27/28 February 2023 with broader participation of Bangladeshi CSOs.
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The Meeting emphasizes only broadening its participation and events at World Social Forum, 2024. But it should be concise in its participation by developing a World Social Forum (WSF) declaration (Call of Action) of Bangladesh process. Those who will endorse the call of action will be eligible to participate in the meeting and World Social Forum (WSF) from the Bangladesh process. Hope such kind of declaration would be developed in the next meeting.