I have spent this week at the World Social Forum in Tunis. It’s been a slightly chaotic week of overrunning schedules, last minute room changes and broken translated equipment, but in spite of some frustrations, it is undeniably an incredible feat of organisation.
Run by a group of activists, with no office or paid staff, the World Social Forum has still succeeded in brining together thousands of activists – some reports say as many as 70,000 – together from around the world to discuss where we’re at in the quest for real solutions to the poverty, inequality and injustice we see in the world today.
The main slogan of the World Social Forum ‘Another World is Possible’ – a slogan made real by movements from the host country Tunisia who overthrew a dictatorship two years ago. People have travelled from across the world to discuss what that looks like, and how to work towards it.
One of the key questions I’ve been focusing on here is around how we should move forward in the struggle with climate justice, given the deepening climate crisis has been mirrored by ever worsening outcomes of the UN climate talks. As well as the launch of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, which will be holding a month of action on dirty energy in October there has also been a specific ‘Climate Space’ at the World Social Forum for the first time, focused on a number of questions.
All the themes discussed during the forum close with a ‘convergence assembly’, which is the culmination of days of talks about challenges facing the world, and focus on developing a collective statement about the problem and how they can be addressed. As WDM’s campaigner for climate justice, I’ve been following the climate related sessions and went along to the convergence assembly at the end of the week. Held in one of the university’s main lecture theatres, the room was overflowing with hundreds of people crammed into the space, and people crowded around the doors.
One of key themes of the week has been the need to look at how all the issues facing the world, and causing the climate crisis are interrelated – that we need to see the connections between problems that may seem separate at first glance. From the more clearly climate related issues, such as fossil fuel extraction, carbon trading and false solutions’ including biofules, GMO crops and geoengineering, through to themes that may not initially seem to be connected, such as denouncing the commodification and financialisation of nature, the destructive free trade agreements, increasing militarisation and corporate power that continues with impunity, and replace these with food sovereignty, water justice and a recognition of the rights of indigenous and forest peoples.
It’s a long road ahead, but one that should not be walked alone, as we link the climate struggle with those of other social movements struggles around hunger, employment, the debt crisis, democracy, water and privatization.