Global Policy and Development


World Social Forum 2018: Between Standstill and Renewal

The Forum in Brazil focuses on resistance, creation and change – and needs to take a critical look at its own structures.

Bild: Opening of the World Social Forum 2018 in Salvador de Bahia von FES

This year, Brazil welcomes thousands of globalisation critics from around the world for the fifth time – to the 14th World Social Forum (WSF) from 13 - 17 March 2018 in Salvador de Bahia. Under the motto “Resistir É Criar, Resistir É Transforma” (“To Resist is to Create, to Resist is to Transform”), alternatives to the current globalisation model, which still prioritises economic interests over everything else – over social and environmental standards, over the interests of minorities and the weak, over fair distribution of global resources – will be discussed in the birthplace of the WSF.

This year again, numerous events, rallies and exhibitions will clearly show that “Another World is Possible.” The World Social Forum is important for another reason too. It serves as a networking platform for socially committed people and organisations, for mutual exchange of perspectives and for developing common positions to call for specific practical approaches to solving current social, economic and political problems. 

This year’s World Social Forum has a set theme. It prioritises organising resistance, democracy, economic alternatives, environmental and climate justice, combating racism and intolerance, feminism and gender matters, fighting to keep water and land as public domain, migration as well as urban development and living.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is once again participating in the local debate with many events focusing in particular on the main topics of social justice, equality and democracy. From our global network, FES Brazil, FES Transformación, FES Berlin and our project on Transnational Corporations will use the forum for discussions with partner organisations, among other things on climate and taxation justice, fair creation of social and ecological transformation and the future of work and the role of trade unions in this context.

The next few days will reveal what influence current political events in Brazil will have on the Forum. Bahia is one of the last Federal States governed by social democratic party PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores) – so federal policy aspects can be expected to play a key role.

The Social Forum movement must also face up to and answer pressing questions on the renewal and reformability of the World Social Forum. In the past, there has been growing criticism that the Forum is much too unwieldy and bureaucratic, made it difficult for activists from the global south to take part and that the Forum is paling into insignificance due to the minor political impact and weak media attention.

However, one thing remains true: We need the World Social Forum. It is the only global, open and inclusive meeting of stakeholders from civil society not hanging on the coat-tails of a government summit, and that focuses on people. Representatives of NGOs, civil society and grassroots activists organise it independently and it permits discussions that look outside the box and can develop an effective dynamism. In our modern world, in which populist, right-wing and anti-democratic voices are becoming ever louder and more significant, discussions on democratic, innovative alternatives, and the creation of active societies are more important than ever.

Now returning to its birthplace, the World Social Forum offers a crucial political platform for this.

Translated into English by TL Translationes

Countries / regions: Weltweit

Department/Section: Globale Politik und Entwicklung

  • Contact

    Head of Department

    Jochen Steinhilber


    Julia Kühne, Assistant to the Head of Department

    Hiroshimastraße 28
    10785 Berlin

    030/269 35-7510


    Specific Requests

    Please refer to Team & Contact for a list of our experts on specific topics

  • Expertise
    Bild: ­von ­FES ­

    The Global Policy and Development Department deals with the following range of topics:

    • democracy-building
    • development policy
    • peace and security, disarmament
    • gender justice
    • global economy, taxes and trade policy
    • international energy and climate change policy
    • international trade union policy
    • migration and development
    • social justice
    • business and human rights

    We look forward to exchanging ideas with you. You can find your contact persons here.


Manuela Mattheß
Manuela Mattheß
030 269 35-7408

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