Two World Forums - Two World Views?

Wednesday, 25 January, 2006 - 11:06

This week marks the advent of two major international events, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, and World Social Forum (WSF), which takes place in three regions across the globe.

This week marks the advent of two major international events, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, and World Social Forum (WSF), which takes place in three regions across the globe.
 
Whilst both these initiatives focus on numerous trends influencing the gobal economy, they diverge substantially in the way that they explore these dynamics. To find out more about the role of the WEF and WSF and their implications for South African civil society, SANGONeT spoke to two economic experts from the local NGO sector.

We were fortunate enough to speak to Stephen Gelb, Executive Director of The Edge Institute, a nonprofit economic policy center in Johannesburg. The organisation conducts research to promote sustainable growth, development and distributional equity. Stephen Gelb has an inspiring reputation as an expert in South African economic policy issues.
 
Our second interview took place with Margaret Legum, Chairperson on the Board of the South African New Economics Network (SANE). SANE is an independent network for the creation of a humane, just, sustainable and culturally appropriate economic system in South Africa, which Margaret herself founded. Margaret is well-known for her efforts to explore alternate social models in order to eradicate poverty.

Whilst both individuals believe that the WEF has absorbed some of the concerns voiced by pressure groups and trade unions, neither believe that this body has fully integrated credible representatives into its structures and, as a result, civil society is unlikely to influence the outcome of the WEF meetings which take place on an annual basis. On the other hand, the WSF remains somewhat of an enigma in that it rarely seems to demonstrate any direct impact on global economic policy but appears to provide more of a platform for exchange and solidarity amongst various civil society movements.

Click on the links to read the full interviews below:

  • Stephen Gelb, Executive Director of The Edge Institute
  • Margaret Legum, Chairperson on the Board of The South African New Economics Network (SANE)

For more information on the World Social Forum website
Click on the link to find out more about World Economic Forum.

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