Methodological guidelines for WSF - Nairobi 2007

(Subsidy for the IC meeting in Parma, Italy – October 10-12, 2006) *Subsidy for the IC meeting debate in Parma, written after discussion among members of the Brazilian Collective, in dialog with the Kenya Organizing Committee and the African Social Forum Secretariat (but it is not a document of those bodies)

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In its short history, WSF has been revealing as a fundamental space for the emergence of a new political culture, besides the impact it has on the imaginary, the mobilization that it is capable of generating in different parts of the world and the huge diversity of social actors it is capable of gather.Large part of its potential stands on its own character as open space, founded on the respect by diversity and plurality among us. What gives vitality to WSFas a fabric of ideas and proposals in opposition to the capitalist neoliberaldominance is to acknowledge the principles and ethical values of liberty of choices and opinions, equality within difference, solidarity and interdependence, of participation and co-responsibility, non-violence, sharingand preservation of common goods of life and nature. Disputes, divergences,confrontation, consensus and dissension are part of WSF ambiance and conditionsfor generating a new political culture.

WSF has been a methodological laboratory since its first edition, in Porto Alegre, in 2001. It is a persistent quest of the “how to do” in order to give visibility to ideas and proposals of “another worlds”. Literally, on the revious editions until now, we have never repeated the same format. And we are learning very much on this constant innovation, looking the best forms for knowing and recognizing each other, exchanging experiences and confronting views, analysis and proposals, interlinking, building networks and coalitions, define campaigns, always with the same desire of thinking to action, without any protagonist a priori or exclusion. Rescuing the memory of this collective learning is a task to be pursued urgently by us.

The methodology to be used in Nairobi is inspired on this previous process, but intends above all to answer to the challenges that we are facing now. In March, during the IC meeting in Nairobi, we have adopted as general methodological guideline for building WSF 2007 program as an expression of struggles and proposals in which we are engaged. We launched then an world consultation in order to give to us a preliminary frame of the large sets of actions that mobilize us. This initiative made possible to advance into a new step: from organizing the program around themes to organizing it around our actions and struggles for implementing alternatives. On the Methodology and Content commissions meeting held in Rome, on July 7 and 8, together with members of the African Social Forum Council and the WSF Organizing Committee – Nairobi 2007, we debated some guidelines in order to complete this process in a good way and in time.

This note presents the methodological decisions debated in the Methodology and Content commissions meeting held, subsequently, in Nairobi in September 3 to 8.Some of the aspects of this proposal, due to the implications for the whole set of WSF process, must be examined by the IC, which is the adequate space for that.

Politically and historically, WSF in Nairobi is an essential moment. We have the opportunity to consolidate WSF roots in the African continent, cradle of the humanity, making the process even more inclusive of the people’s, culture and actors diversity. In Africa and from Africa the different fields of citizenship in action on building other worlds can have better opportunities to emerge. This will give a new dynamic to the WSF itself. Due to the forms of dominance, exclusion and devastation imposed by neoliberal globalization to African people’s and countries, this WSF will be - for the world citizenship - a committed and radical way to demonstrate the character and reach of its struggles .


1. The main goal is to give visibility and to strength the alternative proposals on the construction of other worlds; proposals that are, in some way, bases of concrete struggles. In this sense, it is a matter of passing from thematic terrains, as during the WSF 2005, to terrains defined according to the objectives or aims of the actions, campaigns and struggles in which we are engaged, taken as concrete and live expression of effective alternatives to neoliberal capitalist globalization that we have been implementing. Given WSF character, the basic criteria of grouping the citizen struggles in order to form the terrains is the world dimension of their aims.

2. In the definition of the terrains, it is essential to assure the conditions to incorporate the diversity of actors and plurality of perspectives, on the frame of the Charter of Principles that we adopt. In this way, each terrain must allow that dialog, confrontation and exchange be a practice of the encounter inter diverse actions, campaigns and struggles with common strategic goals, unleashing a process of wide convergences and divergences. It is not a matter of searching a least common denominator among the members of the terrain, which limits and excludes in some way. On the contrary: it is a matter of identifying challenges in confronting and exchanging, renewing themselves and strengthening mutually on this search of the maximum possibilities for each action, campaign or struggle, which can or cannot lead to make decisions on larger joint actions. The terrains are collective constructions that are taking dimensions and forms of their own participants.

3. In term of methodology, the big challenge is giving more emphasis to the WSF process, without losing sight of the importance of the event itself. Constructing spaces of campaigns, actions and struggles must start now, in the WSF 2007 preparation. The physical architecture, the program and the event dynamic itself, in Nairobi, in January 2007, must be a practical space of meeting, exchange, confrontation and, also, interlinking and collective planning of WSF process continuity, giving base for developing the WSF process during all the 2007 year, deepening, mapping and mobilizing even more campaigns, actions and struggles. ON the horizon, we have the WSF 2008 and after. It will make possible to build a world map of struggles and goals, according to the active citizenship that is engaged on the process.

4. It is fundamental to reassure the self management principle as base of activities organization and development within WSF. This principle has been decanted and consolidated as defining WSF character as open space itself. This is the why it is essential to make everything respecting this methodological and political principle. WSF participants are those who will define how WSF will looks like. The campaigns, actions and struggles terrains to be decided – and that will continue being under construction – are not impositions, but references and incentive in order to facilitate the encounter, interlinking and the process of aggregating activities. As many nuclei or aggregations within each terrain as necessary can be formed. Independent activities can also be developed. What we intend to achieve with the terrains is giving the possibility of overcoming fragmentation and dispersion, due fundamentally to the lack of mutual recognition and dialogue than to the lack of will to meet, exchange, confront, interlink and acting jointly while respecting diversity. In this way, we must assure the principle of self management, in which each participant can register its activity on the terrain that it belongs to without losing its own identity. But, at the same time, it will be unleashed an active facilitating process in order that various possibilities of aggregations registered under a terrain can have the opportunity of being formed, always according its aims. The layout of the terrains have as base the consultation carried out.

5. We also have been learning that each WSF has its specificity, due mainly to the local movements and organizations, essential in the WSF final organization.This is the why we have defined that each WSF Organizing Committee e to the coalition of actors formed as its local concrete support – in this case, the WSF Organizing Committee of Nairobi 2007 and the African Social Forum Council – can and must to define and develop activities that give a local flavor and, at the same time, bring to the whole set of participants their visions, concerns, demands and struggles. Those activities includes big conferences about African issues of world dimension, African personalities testimonies, round tables of dialogue and controversy among movements and participant’s organizations and people responsible institutionally by political parties, governments and multilateral organizations, as well as other kinds of expression, always intending to affirm an African perspective about other worlds. These activities, whose principle is the co-management among WSF organizers and participants, need to be valorized without competing with self organized activities, within the terrains. This is the why it is absolutely necessary to avoid simultaneity of those two types of activities.

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