THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM – Just an international happening or still catalyst for a global system change?


Albert T. Lieberg (Ph.D.) Long-standing adviser to the United Nations and author of the book “The System Change – Utopia or Existential Necessity?” published in German by Büchner Verlag, Marburg 2018.

The story of the World Social Forum (WSF) began in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Since 2009, it takes place every two years – recently, it was celebrated in Dakar, Tunis, and Montreal. This year, the WSF returned for the seventh time to its home country Brazil (13-17 March 2018), more specifically to Salvador da Bahia. At its time, the World Social Forum was conceived as a type of counter-event to the World Economic Forum in Davos, that glamorous Swiss ski resort where every year the elites of world politics and economy meet in an exclusive setting in order to exchange views about the future of our planet.

The WSF, on the other hand, is the biggest global meeting of civil society where solutions to the problems of our times are discussed. In every one of its iterations, the Forum brings together thousands of participants in workshops, conferences, and dialogues in order to discuss topics such as human rights, democracy, global justice, world peace, social and economic development, feminism, poverty and violence, the environment and climate change, and discrimination and exclusion. The WSF is a pluralist, non-denominational, non-governmental, and nonpartisan institution that brings together in a decentralized manner organisations and movements that want to help creating a more just and peaceful world through local, regional, and international activism – beyond the globalized doctrine of our materialistic competitive and consumer society…