The World Social Forum: The counterweight to the World Economic Forum

25 February by Isabel Ortiz


KATHMANDU, Nepal, Feb 23 2024 (IPS) - This week the 2024 annual meeting of the World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Nepal. There were fifty thousand participants from over 90 countries, exchanging strategies to address the multiple global crises, from climate catastrophes to unfettered capitalism, inequality, social injustice, wars and conflict.



The WSF was created in 2001 as a counterbalance to the elitism of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF, founded and chaired by a private financial sector foundation, fosters the influence of the corporate world among governments in the luxury ski resort of Davos (Switzerland).

By contrast, the WSF was created as an arena for alternative thinking, where the grassroots and social avant-garde could gain a voice, challenging the neoliberal idea that “there is no alternative” (TINA); instead affirming that “another world is possible” built upon peace, human rights, real democracy, equity Equity The capital put into an enterprise by the shareholders. Not to be confused with ’hard capital’ or ’unsecured debt’. , and justice.

While Davos is the meeting for the 1%, the wealthiest people in the planet, Kathmandu is the meeting for the rest of us. The UN Secretary-General extended his best wishes for WSF 2024 for “restoring hope and finding innovative solutions for people and the planet.”

Indeed, the WSF 2024 was hotbed of ideas, alternative experiences and strategies. There is no concluding summary or annual declaration because the WSF organizers seek to maintain a plurality and diversity of messages. The following points reflect my personal overview of the key topics discussed:

The lack of will of the world’s political and economic elites to resolve today’s multiple crisis fuels discontent among citizens and disillusionment with conventional parties. People everywhere are losing faith in governments, institutions, and economic and political systems. Governments and world leaders would do well to listen and to act upon the ideas coming from the World Social Forum.


This article was originally published in Inter Press service (IPS) news on February 23, 2024

Isabel Ortiz

is Director of the Global Social Justice Program at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, and former director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.

Other articles in English by Isabel Ortiz (8)

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