The World Social Forum has kicked off a week of anti-globalization workshops for the first time in a G7 nation. But some activists believe the the forum no longer represents its global aims.
The World Social Forum (FSM), a counterweight to the World Economic Forum in Davos, kicked off this week for the first time in a G7 nation, aiming to bridge the divide between richer and poorer nations.
"We must overcome the divide between north and south… social inequalities are increasing everywhere," said Raphael Canet, an organizer of the forum's 12th edition.
FSM was born out of the anti-globalization movement, with its first iteration taking place in 2001 in southern Brazil. In 2005, more than 150,000 people attended the forum in Porto Alegre.
However, organizers estimated some 50,000 participants this year, marking the lowest attendance since the forum's creation, with 80 percent of them coming from Montreal.
"I don't see many Africans here today," Women Power and Development's (WOPOD) Fatoumata Cherif told AFP news agency.
"We talk about the World Social Forum, but if there are only participants from northern countries, I do not see how this would be the World Social Forum," Cherif added.
'A space for new ideas'
But Luise Steinwachs of "Brot für die Welt" (Bread fort he World) told DW that the forum hasn't lost steam, and instead transformed into something different.
"For eight or nine years, it has lost (momentum) as a countermovement to the World Economic Forum. Today, the World Social Forum is much more a space for new ideas and creative exchange among activists themselves," Steinwachs said.
FSM organizer Carminda Mac Lorin echoed Steinwachs' sentiments, pointing to several region meetings taking place across the globe.
"It's wrong to saying that the World Social Forum is fizzling out," Mac Lorin added.
Organizers added that this year's forum will focus on issues, such as the plight of refugees fleeing conflict, income inequality and fair trade.
Meanwhile, Canadian authorities denied visa for more than 230 guests, citing the attendees' financial situation, travel history and concerns for their departure from the country.
ls/rc (AFP, FSM, DW)