Report from the World Social Forum in Tunis
The World Social Forum took place in Tunis from 24th to the 28th of March 2015, under the banner of “Dignity”. Despite the terrorist attack which happened shortly before, on the 18th of March, the most participants wanted to be present to show their solidarity with the Tunisians and to respond against terrorism. By attacking the tourism sector, the aggressors also hit the local economy, which – though we might regret it – depends heavily on the visits of tourists. The opening march to the Bardo museum was the answer of the Tunisian people and the alter-globalization activist.
Dignity and the issues concerning the free circulation of human beings on the Planet were widely discussed. There were five main themes, developed in 1500 workshops and, according to the organisers, with the participation of 50,000 people from around the world, to tackle the challenges of today’s world and its future:
– Citizenship and the role of social movements to thwart the power of the reactionary forces and neoliberal logic;
– “Beyond borders” or the issue of violence created by this concept, which is both abstract and very decisive for those who recognize themselves in a country-nation or who have been deprived of it;
– The Planet and the climate emergency, environmental justice and the “Good Living” (Buen Vivir) paradigm. The role of social justice, education, health, housing, food sovereignty, social and economic rights, as many dimensions threatened by the undermining of public services and the State, by the commodification logic of transnational corporations.
– Dignity, Equity and Fundamental rights, violated by the politics of religious discrimination, nationalism, sexism and by the exploitation regimens, which have frown almost everywhere;
– The challenge of Economic Alternatives, bringing together the different formulas of creative resistance and generating solutions to rebuild fairer and more resilient communities.
The workshops were grouped around all of those thematic areas and not surprisingly, the ones promoted by RIPESS were mostly in the alternatives space.
RIPESS Europe hosted a workshop dedicated to “useful and necessary convergences between actors of Social and Solidarity Economy and Social movements”. The workshop co-organiser was the National Confederation of Employees, a Belgian union that raises its members‘ awareness about the significance of the action of economic and environmental resistance. It was an well attended and interactive workshop, and everyone was able to participate in the debate, bringing their experience. Two members of Solidarity4all from Greece were also there, raising the issue of how to build resistance to the European imposed austerity regime. A report on the debate can be found here [link].
RIPESS International promoted a workshop and the convergence assembly on Social solidarity economy and the Sustainable development goals (SDGs) or post-2015 agenda. All participants considered that it was necessary to put in common their work and specific capabilities to monitor the various processes, but also to disseminate and share at the execution stage all the vital information to support the resistance and mobilization of people.
The meeting concluded agreeing on four main points:
– Human Rights must be the basic framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) applicable to all people and not just for those living in the Global South. Inequality and poverty is growing now in the North and the South and most be solved globally.
– There is an obvious contradiction between the pursuit of sustainable well-being for all and the current free trade agreements which destroy the foundations for the SDGs’ implementation and deprive people of their sovereignty to decide their own form of development and to contest the forms of development imposed by the Western world.
– There is the need of a strong political program, not technocratic but where there is real will and investments, which are clear and legally binding.
– The organisations who participated are committed to defininf a common agenda of mobilizations and alerts, so to work on the convergence with other initiative which participated in the World Social Forum in Tunis in 2015.
Read the whole report on the convergence assembly here.
[By Josette Combes, MES]