From the 23rd to the 31st of January, 2021, the World Social Forum 2021 (WSP) was successfully held virtually despite the global pandemic. Marking its 20th anniversary this year since its first meeting held in 2001 in Brazil, the World Social Forum has long been considered as one of the most influential manifestations of civil society organizations against neoliberal capitalism that has shaped international public policies.
This year, UNITED for Intercultural Action participated in this meaningful event as a co-host to the thematic day on climate, ecology, and the environment, along with Prague Spring 2 against right-wing extremism and populism, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam Network, and Alternatives. Co-chaired by Marko Ulvila (Siemenpuu Foundation and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam Network) and our very own Neringa Tumėnaitė (UNITED for Intercultural Action), this virtual conference entitled ‘Assembly of Ecological Space’ was aimed at providing an opportunity for movements and organizations to plan joint initiatives on climate, ecology, and environment and find answers for questions such as:
- Can you endorse the Pan-Amazon message for the World Social Forum 2021?
- What is missing, what should be changed?
- What is the need of the day for building a transformative movement that will prevent ecological collapse?
Although many discussions took place on that day, the participants agreed that both ecological and social restoration is strongly needed in order to promote lasting policies for sustainable ecology. One participant pointed out that how civil society organizations articulate farmers and indigenous movements is just as important as how they articulate themselves, especially during a time of the end of international free trade and a radical reorganization of economic production in the global north. This point is particularly relevant to the spirit of the WSP, whose role is to allow civil society organizations to network and strengthen each other while finding a way forward to challenge the established suppressive system.
Another point that was raised was on urban environmental struggles, such as the pollution of Delhi or struggles of transportation in Mexico, and how this problem must be approached separately each by the global north and south countries while keeping their specificities in mind.
Last but not least, many participants agreed that more convergence is needed through deciding what organizations could collectively undertake.
All in all, this conference was an invaluable occasion that gave various civil society organizations a special opportunity to collectively seek actions for a more sustainable ecological future. UNITED is more than proud to have taken part in it, and we hope to do more, in person, in the future!