NORTH-SOUTH EXCHANGES

Participation of Canadian NGOs in the World Social Forum (WSF)

Sunday 29 February 2004, by ALTERNATIVES

Context:

The ongoing developments in technology and the natural and social sciences make it possible to imagine a world without poverty; offering everyone equality in terms of choices they can make and the environment they live in. The centerpiece of this dream is fast paced, humane development. Paradoxically however, current tendencies of economic development seem to involve increases in exclusion, misery, and social, ethnic, or other kinds of inequality. High levels of consumption have been a detriment to the environment. Far from supporting the development of an active citizenship and democracy, these attitudes too often profit political authoritarianism, breed cultural intolerance and spread misinformation. They also menace democratic institutions. To improve this situation nongovernmental organizations are essential, in a both a national context and at the international level, to promote democratic values, promote solidarity and to fight for the respect of human rights and human life.

Although the State has a paramount role to play in developing the full potential of its citizens and state, NGOs work in the frontlines making it possible to develop concrete strategies to promote democracy, justice, citizenship and equity.

Project:

By supporting the participation of 14 members of Canadian nongovernmental organizations in the events surrounding the third World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre (Brazil) held between January 23 - 28 2003, Alternatives and its partners wished to support the efforts to reform and develop Brazilian governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the public and social sectors.

It is apparent that the expertise of Canadian NGOs, representing a respected democratic society, can enrich Brazilian society. Canadian organizations can contribute to the strengthening of Brazilian NGOs by: sharing their precise knowledge in their field of expertise (ex: defense of human rights), in sharing our knowledge of coalition building with both other NGO groups (ex: the networking found in the great Canadian coalitions, such as the organizations working with refuges and immigrant people) and with the provincial and federal governmental authorities (ex: the experiment of the Grand Council of the Cree), both of which are interesting to ABONG and their members.

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