Spirit of Porto Alegre moves to Switzerland

Fribourg is hosting the first Swiss Social Forum swissinfo.ch

Anti-globalisation activists are gathering in the town of Fribourg in western Switzerland for the first Swiss Social Forum.

This content was published on September 19, 2003 - 11:00

Over the next two days participants will discuss a wide range of issues including the role of Switzerland in the world and alternatives to globalisation.

The event was inspired by the World Social Forum, held for the past three years in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

“Our biggest challenge is to make people more politically aware,” said Sergio Ferrari of the organising committee.

The aim of the Forum is to increase cooperation between non-governmental organisations, including trade unions, religious, peace and women’ groups, in a bid to create a common policy on social issues.

“If it is possible to have another world,” the organisers said, “it is also possible to have a different Switzerland.”

They added that participants wanted to fight for globalisation with a human face and to prevent a system which created an even deeper divide between industrialised nations and the developing world.

Pension reform

Some 800 people are expected to take part in panel discussions and workshops focusing on issues such as Switzerland’s role as a financial centre, pension reforms, privatisation and access to public services.

The Swiss Social Forum takes its inspiration from the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, set up in 2001. One of the key speakers in Fribourg is Chico Whitaker, co-founder of the Porto Alegre Forum.

In its charter, the Forum defined its aims as “a permanent process to search and find alternatives” and calls for “another form of globalisation, opposed to capitalistic globalisation.”

Organisers say they want to make the Swiss Social Forum, which is being held this year at the University of Fribourg, an annual event.

swissinfo with agencies

Social Forum

The two-day conference is the first of its kind in Switzerland.
It brings together some 80 non-governmental organisations.
The aim is to set up a network for social issues.

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