World Social Forum in Kathmandu

Gathering will bring 30,000 Nepali and international participants to Kathmandu on 15-19 February

Organisers of the World Social Forum 2024 Nepal discuss updates and logistics of the event. Photo: WORLD SOCIAL FORUM 2024 NEPAL / X

About 30,000 participants from Nepal and across the world will be in Kathmandu from 15-19 February for the World Social Forum (WSF), the biggest convention of its kind ever to be held here.

The first meeting of the annual WSF was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001 as an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos, and has its motto ‘Another World Is Possible’ – a theme that has added relevance because of global climate breakdown, conflicts and the spread of authoritarianism.  

The local organising committee includes Nepali groups working on justice and poverty, and says the choice of Kathmandu as a venue proves Nepal’s openness and its importance as a meeting place for the world. 

The WSF’s International Council Secretariat said in a statement: ‘The world is moving towards a challenging period of political, economic, and environmental crises … The forces of globalism, mass capitalism, and neoliberalism have created a system of rising inequality. Coupled with climate change, global food insecurity, majoritarian violence, Covid-19, and geopolitical upheaval, most of mankind is mired in suffering.’

Besides its plenary, this year’s hybrid WSF will have five panels dealing with Peace and Climate, Democracy and Human Rights, Feminism and Diversity and Solidarity with Palestine.

Explaining its choice of venue, the WSF said Nepal was selected because of its cultural, religious, linguistic, and ethnic diversity. It adds, ‘Nepal proudly stands as a democratic nation with a constitutional commitment to socialism ... guaranteed democratic spaces and human rights, milestones achieved through the existence of a strong people's movement.’

Nearly 900 organisations from 73 countries will be in Kathmandu or taking part virtually in the panels, and they range from trade unions, peasant, women and indigenous organisations to peace, and justice movements. They will be taking part in 210 activities so far registered.  

In addition to the sessions, WSF 2024 Nepal will also have an Intercontinental Youth Forum on 17 February in which nearly 300 young men and women from all over the world have registered. A Parliamentary Forum will also be held on 16 February.

Speakers and delegates include human rights activist Medha Patkar from India, Hina Jilan of the Pakistan Supreme Court, as well others from Latin America, Africa and Europe. The WSF will kick off with a solidarity march on 15 February and a final day assembly at Bhrikuti Mandap on 19 February

The WSF began with activism for the Global South at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and gained momentum during the anti-globalisation movement of the 2000s. While the World Economic Forum in Davos was a closed meeting of a few corporate entities and powerful countries, WSF saw up to 150,000 people at its gatherings. 

‘The idea of WSF is to create an open forum for the free and horizontal exchange of ideas, experiences, and strategies oriented to enacting and generating alternatives to neoliberalism,’ says a statement from the forum.

The WSF has a deliberate anti-neoliberal global capitalism agenda and sees it as the root cause of militarism, imperialism, conflict, north-south inequity, and the climate crisis. The gatherings provide an open space for activists from the world over to plan strategies, debate ideas, and form networks and alliances. 

Previous forums have been held in Porto Alegre, Mumbai, Caracas, Bamako, Nairobi, Karachi, Tunis, Montreal and Mexico City. 

Themes for the sessions at World Social Forum 2024 Nepal include: 

Economic Inequality and Economic Justice 

Labour, Migration, Modern Slavery, and Trafficking

Race, Caste, Ethnicity, Xenophobia

Gender, Sexuality, Gender-Based Violence

Land, Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, Natural Resources

Peace, Conflict, Security

Migration and Displacement

Education, Art, and Culture

Media and Digital Equity

Democracy, Human Rights, Authoritarianism

Climate Justice, Ecology, Just Transitions 

Details here.

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