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2005 World Social Forum Begins
Fifth edition of the WSF gets started in Brazil with over 120,000 people from around the world.

1/27/2005 - Press Release from WSF

The Event opens exceeding the expected range of participants, activities and entities that took part in the previous editions. More than 200,000 have participated in the Opening Walk. With over 2,000 activities promoted by 5,700,000 organizations, networks and social movements from 122 countries, the fifth edition of the WSF opened this Wednesday (26/01), with an estimate of 120,000 to 150,000 thousand participants. Until the morning of the first day, 81,000 people were enrolled at the registration center next to Usina do Gasômetro and between 30,000 to 35,000 were already at the International Youth Camp, in Harmonia Park. According to the Military Police estimative, over 200,000 people took part in the early evening Walk for Peace.

These numbers were made public at the press conference given, this Wednesday, by the Brazilian Organizing Committee, with the participation of members of the Forum's International Committee. “The fifth edition will certainly be a mark in the Forum's path, that gets more and more strength as a plural and popular space”, said Salete Valesan, who represents Paulo Freire Institute in COB (Brazilian Organizing Committee). 1251 activities were developed in 2004, in Mumbai, India, and 1402 in 2003, in Porto Alegre.

The General-Secretary of the President's Office, Luiz Dulci; the Rio Grande do Sul Coordination and Planning Secretary, João Carlos Brum Torres; and the Porto Alegre Political and Local Governance Coordination Secretary, César Busato representing, respectively, the federal, the state and the municipal governments - hosts of the event - also participated in the press conference.

Numbers of WSF 2005 The 11 thematic spaces take up 4 km. of the river Guaíba's margin, with 150 hundred square meters of constructed area (like 18 Maracanã stadiums put together). Altogether, there are 98 temporary spaces – 203 rooms and auditoriums with the capacity for 50 to1000 seats, and 295 tents for other activities and services – 80% of these spaces are tents covered with canvas and the rest are samples of bio-construction or constructed out of recycled materials. The works cost 4,4 million Brazilian Reais, employed 1.900 workers, and was constructed in 40 days.

The structure of WSF 2005 offers 700 computers, over one thousand units for accessing the web, 30 cyber-cafés, 11 information centers, 4 first aid stations, 600 chemical toilets, 4 food squares, 60 snacks´ stalls and one center for general supplies. Other aspect of the WSF 2005 is the effective participation of the solidarity and popular economy movements, which received 2 million out of the 14 million reais alloted for the Forum's total budget. Over 1.500 workers undertakings were used to give support for food, clothing, and the collection and recycling of garbage.

The number of journalists participating in this edition of WSF is a record too: 5.421 from 69 countries, 1.294 free-lancers, and 4. 127 representing the international media. In 2004, the number of professionals was 3.200.

New methodology In addition to including a huge number of activities, organizations and participants, compared to previous editions, the WSF 2005 is said to be innovative due to its new methodology of choosing the debate themes. The eleven Thematic Terrains were defined based on an ample public consultation, involving almost six thousand entities which conveyed their interest in contributing to organizing the event in a joint initiative.

The survey was available on line as well as in paper at places not related to the web. The entities were in charge of the organization of the activities, and COB was responsible for the Forum opening and closing as well as the creation of the required conditions to make the event happen.

Spreading the Forum Worldwide Meena Menon, from India, representing the organization “Focus on the Global South” in the WSF International Committee, explained why they have made the decision of decentralizing the Forum activities, so it would happen simultaneously in different continents in 2006. “This process of spreading the event worldwide started in 2003, when we had a lot of regional forums. We want our message to be discussed by more and more people every year.”

In 2007, the International Committee has already decided that the Forum will take place in the African continent; however, the country has not been chosen yet. ”In the same way the WSF 2004 has changed India, the meeting in 2007 will definitely be a milestone in our continent”, states Njoki Njoroge Njehu, from the organization “50 Years Is Enough Network”, from Kenya, and also a member of the WSF International Committee.

Public opinion in sync with the WSF A survey carried out by the WSF International Secretariat, supported by the Global Issues Monitor, has showed that the main issues discussed in the Forum are supported by the public opinion all around the world. The sample survey population consisted of 20,000 people, in 19 countries.

The survey has showed, for instance, that 59% of the respondents agree that the natural resources should be owned by the government. Among the 19 surveyed countries, only in the United States the majority agreed that natural resources should be privately owned. The survey also reports that 74% of the respondents agree that a reform in the United Nations Structure is necessary, so that its members were elected by popular vote, and not nominated by the government of each member country.

"The results of the survey reveal the great sync between the international public opinion and the issues discussed in the WSF", said Cândido Grzybowski, who represents the Ibase in COB – Brazilian Organizing Committee.

http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/noticias_01.php?cd_news=1600&cd_language=2

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Date Added: 1/29/2005 Date Revised: 1/29/2005 10:55:12 AM

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