A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
At a moment where many look for ways to tackle the global economic crisis, the World Social Forum has set a clear message: “the weight of the crisis cannot fall on the shoulders of the poorest.”
The urgency to build new development paradigms based on peoples rights, provide solutions to the financial, climate and food crises, promote the role of women in building a fairer society and the right of indigenous people to decide over their natural resources, are some of the main topics that social movements and organizations debated during the 9th World Social Forum brought to a closure in Belém do Pará, Brazil, today.
“What social movements and organizations are stating very clearly is that it is not only about reducing poverty but ending all forms of inequality; and that their demands on social and economic justice are today more urgent than ever before,” says Constantino Casasbuenas, Oxfam International representative at the Forum. “The participation, for the first time, of five presidents at the Forum opens a door to the dialogue between States and social movements that hopefully will result in a support of their demands of a new development model socially fair and environmentally sustainable.”
The debated proposals will feed the actions and thoughts of the six thousand organizations and movements from 142 countries that took part at this years Forum.
At the WSF there was space for self-criticism and learning. The Panamazonic forum, which took place simultaneous to this year's WSF, allowed greater participation of indigenous people from the Amazons and gave more visibility to their demands. Among the challenges highlighted was the need to move from the debate of ideas to concrete proposals.
“We think that the exchange of ideas that took place at the Forum has been very positive and productive. We are clear that the meeting’s purpose is not to get to specific agreements or consensus. However it should be possible to translate the diversity of ideas and proposals into actions that lead to changes,” added Casasbuenas.
The 9th World Social Forum took place at the Brazilian city of Belém between the 27 of January and the 2nd of February 2009.