The Thematic Social Forum Rio+20, taking place in Porto Alegre from 24 to 28 January, was a long awaited for event. The objective was to prepare the People’s Summit that will take place in Rio at the time of the UN-Summit in June 2012.
Several thematic groups worked on issues such as water, the green economy, free media, sustainable cities and so on. The conclusions were not clear in all points, as there are differences of opinion between social movements and trade unions regarding e.g. the green economy. Also, in spite of its title: “Capitalist Crisis, Social and Environmental Justice”, the social dimension was largely missing. Surely, many speakers pointed to the fact that “the poor” will be the first victims of the climate change process, but what to do about it? Nevertheless, discussions were highly interesting and we can expect a very lively People’s Summit in Rio in June.
After the Thematic Forum, there was an informal meeting of the International Council (IC). No formal report will be made. But the points which were discussed were very important, since all of us know that we urgently should try to restructure our meetings, and most of all, our thinking.
Many large organizations do not come to the IC or the WSF anymore, while we do not meet the new organisations, like the “indignados” or the “Occupy” people. All agree that the social forum process is very, very lively, with more than 40 events in 2011 and probably as many in 2012. But these are thematic or regional/local forums. This localised focus is also present in the new organisations, whereas originally, the Social Forum emerged as a reaction and resistance against an unjust globalisation. How can we preserve the dynamic of the movements in this context? And how can we revitalise the global dimension? All these points will have to be discussed at the next IC, which will not be in Diyarbakir as had been planned, but which will be organised after the Maghreb/ Machrek Forum in Tunisia from 10 to 14 July 2012. Furthermore, a Forum of Forums will be organized from 8-12 September in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. This will be the moment for a serious self-assessment.