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 Home > Event-related > World Social Forum > World Social Forum 2005 > Intermediary Reports

[ en ]

Reports from the WSF International Council (IC)

Isola Polvese – Passignano sul Trasimeno – Italia, April 4 to 7, 2004
(Date: 23 April 2004)

This report was written collectively by Christophe (Nomad), Laurent (WSF2005), Silvia (Babels-it) and Stephanie (babels-fr and babels-voc) .
Were participating to the IC as Babels and Nomad: Alessandro (interpreter), Andrea (transtrad, WSF2004), Christophe (Nomad), Giacomo (new Babels-it), Giulia (interpreter and new Babels-it), Laurent (WSF2005), Marco (interpreter), Silvia( babels-it), Simone (interpreter), Stephanie (babels-fr and babels-voc).

Careful: This report will deal about Nomad and Babels. Some key points are made that will deal also with “signal transmission’ especially the FM-system used in Mumbai.

This IC was the cornerstone of the mixing of these two different parts into a global “translation” point. This makes it more complex for all of us, but essential as far as participating to a Social Forum. In fact as you’ll see the decisions made for one of the use-to-be separate topics bear heavy consequences on the other one. We are now talking about translation as a whole.

This report will be published in the Babels Forum and will be available for comments, questions and discussions by all the volunteers participating to Babels-Nomad.

IC concluding points and new fields of work for Babels

- Babels was accepted as a new member of the International Council along with 19 other organizations and international networks.
- We have to present for April 20 a global proposition on languages within the WSF process and event: from the “language policy” (already presented in Mumbai during the last IC meeting), to the translations of work and draft documents, to the website and so on… They are many aspects to this but they are awaiting a comprehensive proposal that can deal with this altogether.
- It was stressed also that our main role is not only to provide volunteers from within our network but to emphasize the relations and coordination with existing networks in the region. This is particularly true since a small volunteer translator group exist in Porto Alegre, Solidarity Network and some others in other parts of Brazil with which we had relations during the last ESF and last WSF.
- Internally, we need of course to develop a project coordination on the WSF2005 including as soon as possible people from the region (Latin, Central and North America) with whom we were already in contact. Anyone interested by the role of coordinator should contact wsfsm@babels.org

The IC and Babels

  1. Our involvement with the IC started from the beginning. Babels as such didn’t exist at that time but the volunteers participating to it as interpreters were part of the nucleus which started to formalize the idea of Babels.
  2. Babels started formally to participate as such to the IC during WSF3 in Porto Alegre. We were also part of different meetings of the IC: Miami (2003), Mumbai (2004). The IC doesn’t meet often.
  3. Since our formalization we have asked to be a full member of the IC (there are observers and members with different “rights”). This was accepted during this IC.
  4. We are currently participating to 3 of the IC workgroups (created in the Miami IC in fact): Methodology and Content (merged for this IC), and Communication.
  5. The other workgroups are: Expansion, Strategy, Finance.

The IC

The IC makes in fact very few decisions. The workgroups recommend to the IC their consensus based decisions. The IC discusses them. The role of the IC is a work in progress and is still in discussion as it was for the past years. Most of the practical and concrete decisions are made by the organizing committees, this time in particular the Brazilian one.

This make it difficult sometimes to know what exactly is at stake during IC discussions as the functioning is very different from the Preparatory Assemblies we know in the European Social Forum process or in the Mediterranean Social Forum.

The IC reunites usually around 100 organizations from around the world. Corridor discussions are in fact richer than proper IC discussions and result in more decisions, links and project building.

Hence the following report dealing with: WSF5 in Porto Alegre, MedSF, African Social Forum, Social Forum of the Americas (July 2004), Pan-Amazonian Social Forum, US Social Forum, Social Forum of the North West. (Points will be mentioned but separate detailed reports will be made for some of these topics)

What’s at stake for the WSF 2005

  1. The WSF5 will be completely new in is form and will be built around an open process that will stress the importance of our involvement both in the process and in the event.
  2. The organizers of the WSF want to experiment a new way of organizing the venue. The idea is to use a multilingual website (in a many languages as possible) to make people work together on their debates. The idea is close to what happened in the ESF 2004 when organizations were compelled to merge their proposal of seminars. But this time, it should happen way ahead and give more time to people to work on common proposals.

Furthermore, this new way of organizing the venue is based on a specific philosophy : using the free software, aiming at a zero-waste behaviour, stressing environmental sustainability and so on so forth, the WSF 2005 will try to promote in its own attitude the very values that it stands for.

Indeed, part of this newness is materialized by a “Free Software to 0 Waste to multi-cultural” project both for the process and the event pushing even further the trial made around these during the WSF4 in Mumbai. The WSF is not only a place that will talk about subjects but also a place and process that will try to enact its alternatives by expressing in its architecture, organization and so on the feasibility of new solutions and showing it strongly. This is part of an educational action about de-branding, free-software, environmental sustainability, multi-culturalism and so on bridging the concerns of environmental organizations, free-software communities, Babels-Nomad and many other players. A meeting will be held in Porto Alegre around May 20 to concretely start to work on this. (see special report on the meeting)

WSF languages, a work in progress
(see the first point of this report)

- Discussions occurred with the Indian, Korean, Japanese and Thai delegations as well as with African delegations present in the IC.

The concluding remarks we made in the last IC in Mumbai, seem to develop concretely. What appears is that we are talking about an event that will be dealing with a dozen official languages at least from all the continents: 4 or 5 European languages (maybe one more than the usual 4), around 4 Asian languages (probably Japanese, Thai, Korean and Bahasa), around 4 African languages (like Walof, Swahili, Malenke-Bambara, the African Social Forum meeting by the end of this month and will discuss this in order to make concrete proposals). An ongoing discussion is starting around Quechan linked with the Social Forum of the Americas. And of course we have to discuss at one point about the presence of the Arabic.

About African languages.

Regarding this new topic for us, just a few words. An informal meeting took place between Steph, Laurent and Silvia with Françoise (Ritimo) and two persons taking part of the Africa Social Forum, Rabia and one person from Guinea.

It is really important to include African languages within the WSF process especially those which are common to several countries. For instance we talking about Swahili (East Africa and Great Lake Zone), Wolof (West Africa), Zulu (South Africa) and Malinké-Bambara (Sub-Saharan Africa). All is to be decided upon. And the existing process of the African social forum will deal with this.

We have to remember that in order to include the growing African civil society, especially the people involved in concrete often localized work, into alternatives to the actual world order, we need to express these in their languages. To allow Africans to speak and listen to “African” is also to enhance drastically participation and civil society development as we already witnessed it with some of the Asian languages during the last WSF.

Rabia in particular will therefore push this issue during the next African Social Forum meeting in Nairobi at the end of April, in order to draw concrete proposals on which we can work together.

- We have stressed than the geographic location of the volunteers that will come to the WSF should develop networks in the region: Latin and North America (60 to 80% of all the volunteers).
- The process decided upon by the Methodology and Content group will rely heavily on translations (we introduced the notion of work languages: fewer than the official languages) as it will be based on opening the process to inputs from organizations all over the world. The process enabling the building of the WSF program will rest upon collaborative work between many organizations willing to participate electronically. This will probably lead to need for translations within this process. Concrete solutions involving Transtrad will have to be found.

Babels within this IC

We were 10 during this IC: 5 persons in an interpreter role and 5 persons in a coordinator role (Babels and Nomad). Andrea stayed only until Sunday evening and came in order to help the information circulation as he was in Mumbai in charge of negotiating with the Brazilian secretariat and participated to the IC before this one. Christophe came with a clear set of proposals from the project Nomad. Laurent followed the IC for quite a long time and clearly stated he wants to be part of the WSF2005 process, Stephanie came as part of the workgroup of project link with a resource website build on “Memory and Systematization” (see separate document) and Silvia progressively change from technical coordinator to a political role.

Everyone at one point or another played a political role by participating to meetings either “general” ones, either “specific” ones linked with other projects. It seemed to be essential to have more than one “coordinator” as networking is pretty demanding and need not only time but also “live information” from this or that person depending on the areas of work. What prove to be a reality is that a “global event project” such as WSF2005 is linking projects within Babels from Babels-Italia or else, to Nomad, to Transtrad, to Lexicon to … and we need to make an effort on the team building. Especially that not working on “delegation” but as a network we need to be able to have collective discussion and decision during this type of preparatory meetings. Last but not least because it is important to have the organizations understood that we are different and we are “several” on one project.

A Babels WSF5 project is launched. The people interested by having a coordination role within this new project should contact wsfsm@babels.org asap.

Contacts and discussions around other projects

1-Foro de las Americas

  1. We had very positive contacts with some of the organizers of this process. They want our direct involvement in this process.
  2. The event will be held in Ecuador, in Quito to be exact. July 25 to 30. www.forosocialamericas.org
  3. They are studying very closely the actual feasibility of the FM transmission system build during Mumbai. We have to link the FM Nomad team with the organizers in order to work on an active participation in the event. This FM transmission solution is directly involved in the feasibility of this Social Forum as in the Pan-Amazonian one (later), as maybe the WSF.
  4. Languages: Quechan and Spanish will be central. There will be need also for French, English and Portuguese.
  5. They are awaiting around 15 000 people for around 4 simultaneous translated events per period of time (3 periods of time per day) including the conference gathering and the Youth Camp.
  6. We need to identify people to follow this project as coordinator, probably one with experience and certainly some in the region. This will prove really helpful also in the preparation of the WSF.

2-The North-West Social Forum and the US-SF

  1. The processes will start probably by the end of this month with meeting in the US West Coast, in San Francisco or Seattle (for the NW-SF) and in Washington for the US-FS.
  2. We have put in contact some of the organizers with babels-usa

3-The Mediterranean Social Forum

The following points were stressed by several discussions in particular with Gianni Fabbris one of the FSMed organizer.

- The FSMed cannot be a process working the same way as the ESF mainly because of the lack of funds, because of the structures of the regional civil society, because of political framework of financing for non-EU countries to avoid new forms of neo-colonialism.
- New form of inclusion should be found. The proposal accepted in the last preparatory meeting in Cyprus and upon being worked on, concerns the building of an international commission dealing with enhancing real participation. This is a provisional tool based on an equilibrium to be found between “North and South” and taking in account “gender balanced representation”. Three fields of work: A) communication. B) Visa and mobility. C) Action schedule
- From Babels they are awaiting a strong participation and not only a participation in the communication field. This develops our political role within this process. It is materialized by the fact that we are part of three FSMed commissions, including the commission on the final report back. Babels is coordinating the language linked works with a real political role.
- The FSMed has envisioned the possibility of a monthly newsletter but wants also to develop further communication tools including TV, radios, chat and so on. Three different aims: A) internal networking. B) contacts able to develop the information process. C) public at large. The type of information to be given: A) the process in general. B) national or regional situations. C) Debates on the contents. Regarding this, are still be decided upon the number of the languages and the languages themselves.
- Concerning the issue of languages what came out of this informal meeting is a different between a realistic number of “work languages” able to allow participation, and public documents in a larger number of languages, especially when concerning region or territory, in the languages directly related to these.
- The FSMed didn’t take any formal decision, but Gianni doesn’t believe that the FSMed will be a yearly process.
- During the next European Preparatory Assembly in Istanbul there will be a meeting with Turkish organizations participating to the FSMed.
- We can foresee the need for 2 Babels coordinators who will work on the FSMed website along with the friends of Barcelona who are responsible for it (Technical Secretariat)
- Before Barcelona 2005 there will be 3 preparatory meetings.
- The FSMed does not wish to be solely a conference space where to listen, like the ESF, but a space for debates and proposals in which people can discuss, propose, act and propose campaigns. Some ideas: Campaign to change the Euromed free trade agreements, democracy, open conflicts, alternate development.
- As for Italy Babels-Italia was invited to participate to the April 22 meeting held in Roma. It is a meeting within the logic of the Italian Social movement assembly. Silvia, Giulia and maybe Giacomo will participate. This is an opportunity for babels-italia to link up with Italian movements and organizations. In this respect we will put forward some proposals few of which will be linked with the Lexicon project.

Brief from the April 5 meeting
(IC – Isola Polvese – Passignano sul Trasimeno – Italia – April 4 to 7 2004.)

Meeting on April 5th 2004, between Candido and Fatima, from the Brazilian WSF Organizing Comitee, Jason, Nandita, PK Das, Amit, Medhu, Meena from the Indian WSF Organizing Comitee, Mark from FN8G, Christophe from Nomad, Laurent and Stéphanie from Babels and Marcelo from Greenpeace.

The objective was to see if a common reunion was possible at close hand. It aimed at talking about several technical issues that carry out a strong political impact, bearing in mind the experiences of the previous forums, such as :

- architecture and organization of the venue itself,
- environmental sustainability of the forum, with the aim to build a pedagogical and educational tool for the thousands of people that will be part of the event,
- the use of digitalized translation, so as to use the possibility to broadcast the forum in several languages thanks to internet and create archives
- the use of free software tools, still according to a pedagogical aim
- Babels

The idea is to launch a global process, focusing on the priority to include activists.

Candido and Fatima briefly explained the Brazilian situation : at the Methodology and Content Commission right after, they were to present a global proposal including an online consultation, thematical clusters, systematization, translation and are currently looking for the right people and organization to tackle the technical issues that make such project possible.

The intended framework would put the emphasis on the process it self. The proposal they refer to is the one enhanced by the collective group made up of Ritimo, FPH, Ibase, Babels, etc...The aim is to open up to more languages and to open spaces for discussions. The idea is to be more inclusive in each and every one of the activities, thanks to the right tools. Until now, it’s also been very difficult to use any information afterwards and make it accessible to people going to Porto Alegre. So far, the logistics have been financed by the local authorities and government. The danger is the routine it has created so far. Sustainable ways of organizing things should be used.

Challenges ahead :

- How can we feed upon the experiences of the previous forums? We’re at a crossroad and need to take the best from every forum. The Youth Camp experience appears to be extremely precious : it’s crucial to feed on it and include it within the Forum
- there is a need to find the way to avoid waste and pollution. Mumbai was littered by political leaflets mad up by every association who wanted to communicate on its own activities: how can we work on the communication in order to prevent such waste? The amount of paper waste was so huge it has become an issue.
- The technical tools used should reflect a political commitment, encouraging a wider participation and convergences
- how can we create more links with the local communities? Food could be outsourced to local farmers, for example
- how can we address technical issues such as free softwares, the practice of the open source access of the contents, involve volunteers and “techies” without turning the project into a technical issue only?

It appears that there is a clear political line coming up from the including the Youth Camp experience, aiming at zero waste and debranding, using free softwares technology to volunteer work : basically, to launch a new process that is more inclusive, with tools and practices that match the very message that is being carried out by the forum (i.e. : to act according to socially responsible and sustainable ways, thus encouraging participant of the forum to bring those practices home)

Yet, the emergency is to address the technical issues right away, because everything is linked together.

Thus, the very first things to do is to identify precise tasks to be done and the right people to tackle them.

The whole process has to be launch very quickly.

Decision :

- setting up of a general mailing list with different working groups dedicated to precise issues, such as environment and architecture, digitalized translation, activist interpreters, so on so forth, so as to determine which are the tasks to be done and prepare the agenda of the meeting in Brazil
- to organize a physical meeting in Porto Alegre, including the present persons and open to more. Date: May 21-23 + 2 more days to discuss how to work together (?)

Local Brazilian groups should be involved and encouraged to take part.

Note : Marcello stressed the possibility to broadcast meaningful informations at the Earth Day. Mark insured that there are funds to finance the physical meeting.

To follow the debates on this topic: see the Babels forum.

 
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