From Porto Alegre to Tunis

by Peter Schäfer/Silke Veth

Since its inception in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001, the World Social Forum has become one of the most important international conventions of progressive activists and intellectuals in the struggle against neo-liberalism and for social justice.
From the very beginning, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung has been part of this movement and has supported the creation of open space for sharing experiences and creating networks of like-minded activists. From then on, and through the European network “Transform”, our voice has also been heard in the Forum´s International Council.
With the struggles of the marginalized and for the Right to Water, the Forum was able to put new issues on the agenda in Mumbai (2004). We were equally involved in the World Social Forums in Nairobi (2007) and Dakar (2011), staging activities on alternative models of workers’ organization, Africa´s new role in the world, land grabbing and the privatization of water.
This year, the WSF takes place in Tunis; a decision we see as an opportunity. It can serve to support new political actors or those in the process of re-organization. Some say that people should organize themselves on a local or national level before entering international circles. We think that these are interconnected processes and that regional and international issues strongly rely on local affairs and organizational development as well.
Due to the many negative effects of current European politics on Northern Africa, regional approaches to sovereign economic development are needed, and this can only be achieved by joint efforts. It will affect all issues at stake, from food sovereignty to the fight against privatizing common goods, from decriminalizing migration to, generally, the achievement of social justice.