January 29, 2003

World Social Forum Comes up from the Underground

By Lucimara Nunes

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Born as a underground event, and previously considered a movement of radical leftists by media worldwide, the World Social Forum has become well-known and respected.

At least forum organizers believe so, noting a huge increase in press attendance — over 4,000 journalists from 51 countries — at the third annual event here this past January.

“This is more than the number of journalists at the World Soccer Cup, and shows that World Social Forum is not an underground event anymore,” said Candido Gribowsky of the forum’s International Committee.

This year’s forum brought more than 100,000 people to Brazil — including more than 20,000 delegates representing about 5,000 organizations from 156 nations.

The event cost about US$3.5 million and brought in US$20 million for the city of Porto Alegre.

The Brazilian government contributed about US$1 million to the event; several Brazilian and international institutions, especially from the United States and the European Union, also contributed financially.

Consistent with the forum’s Charter of Principles, organizers did not release a final document, asserting that the World Social Forum is a space for diversity and reflection more than a meeting for producing singular resolutions.

The fourth edition of the forum will take place in India, with planning meetings commencing in June.

Organizers also said that the event will no longer occur at the same time as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“What we have been doing trumps Davos. Our challenge is to make the diversity of the World Social Forum work, and build a new world,” said Gribowsky.

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