A significant crowd of about 10,000 people marched in the streets of Montreal, Canada at the start of the World Social Forum (WSF) with the theme “Another world is needed: together it is possible”.
The excited crowds were chanting and waving signs and banners with varie themes ranging from climate justice to Human rights to migrant solidarity, and beyond. On the march, there were different groups from all over the world, including indigenous people, NGOs, and grassroots environmental organizations. Clearly noticeable though was the Franciscan delegation with their brown and grey habits..
Created in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the WSF was first held in direct opposition to the World Economic Forum—an annual invitation-only event in Davos, Switzerland, where corporate and state representatives collaborate on planning the world economy. The WSF is conceived as a space where a wide array of diverse social movements could meet each other and build bonds of solidarity, and develop common ideals and strategy for social change.
This year, the Franciscan delegation was smaller with 14 participants drawn from all over the world and from all the branches of the Franciscan family including, OFM, OFMCap, OFM Conventuals, OFS and Yufra, and FCJM. They were also joined by members of the Franciscans International FI, and the Franciscans Action Network FAN,
The delegation participated in several workshops and events especially those organized and promoted by the Roman VI and the FI. These consisted in expression of experiences, debate initiatives towards the common theme of “Another possible world”. Such workshops on Trade, climate change, Laudato si, clean energy, environmental justice, extreme poverty, Human rights, land reform and agro-ecology, right to food, new media, social financing, ending destructive extractive industry and demilitarization were among the broad array of topics discussed in more than 1,200 workshops.
Given these multitude of workshops and activities, the delegates were encouraged to participate in events and workshops grounded in our Franciscan mission as defined in the Rio+20 and Cop21 Climate summits. In addition the delegates participated in the following workshops that were planned and hosted by the FI, Roman VI and other Partners
- Workshop on Rights of Nature and Environment: Roundtable on civil society strategies against environmental and human rights impact of extractivism. (In partnership with CIDSE)
- Workshop on Rights of Nature and Environment- roundtable on Civil society strategies against environmental and human rights impact of extractivism – (partnershiop with CIDSE)
- From Marikana to Mariana: how to face mining crimes – Perspectives, challenges and popular proposals in the face of mining violations.
- Conference on ‘Extreme poverty and human rights – tools and strategies- In partnership with ATD
- Convergence Assembly: Towards new international binding rules against business abuses of people’s rights
Following on the commitments made by the Franciscans at the Rio+20 climate summit in Brazil, the delegation decided to concretize these commitments by continuing to advocate and work on the areas of Lifestyle change (personal and collective witness), Mining and extractive industries (that extract large quantities of natural resources with their effect on the poor and the environment), and Food sovereignty and sustainability (especially for the poor).
Realizing that JPIC is part of our DNA as Franciscans, JPIC international commission encourages all our Capuchin friars around the world to join the rest of the Franciscans to engage with civil societies, groups from other religions, and all people of good will in the dialogue on suggested topics with a goal of creating greater awareness, coordinated actions and advocacy actions. Finally we commend your grassroots activities such as the Rainbow house environmental project in Pontianak, the Capuchin Medical mission in the Philippines, the Capuchin soup kitchen in Detroit and many others. With the suggestions offered in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si, let us all listen to the “Cry of the poor and the Cry of the Earth (LS #48)