2016 Montreal World Social Forum

Devon Malcolm, Development Three

I was recently privileged to attend the World Social Forum in Montreal, which brought together tens of thousands of professionals originating from civil society, organizations and social movements interested in building a sustainable and inclusive world.


The WSF started in 2001 in Brazil, giving participants a platform to strategize and discuss through workshops, conferences, art performances and other activities to build a movement of international solidarity founded on social and environmental justice, solidarity economies, participative democracy, and equal dignity for all. The WSF has previously been held in countries around the world including Tunisia, Senegal, Kenya, and now Canada, the first country of the ‘North’ to host the forum.

The 2016 WSF conference included topics such as Syrian Refugees and The Politics of Humanitarianism, Militarism and Climate Change, and Indigenous People’s Struggles and Resistance. I attended one very interesting workshop on Transforming the United Nationals and Global Governance, Learning to Market Global Reform supported by the World Federalists Movement of Canada. The workshop was lead by two key speakers John E. Trent and President Vivian Davidson both from the WFMC. They presented two different schools of thought on how to build a world government.

John E. Trent focused on UN reform; he presented his ideas from his paper “Six Steps Toward Revamping the United Nations”. He eloquently described key commitments and steps which would allow the UN to successfully represent and govern the world to face global issues. He attributes global wealth inequality, investments in war, and terrorism as key obstacles to reform. He supports reform motions that focus on improved funding, weighted voting, and a universally representative Security Council, all key components to make the UN a successful world governing body.


Vivian Davidson, the President of the WFMC, takes a different approach in the argument to world governance presenting ideas from her paper “The Dawn of a New Civilization”. She argues that the UN has many faults and failings and a better world governance system should be built which more accurately and efficiently represents global needs and issues. Her vision entails a World Parliament which would be capable of enforcing laws which could hinder some of the global crises we face today.

Following the presentation of each side, the discussion was opened up to the attendees, which allowed for very interesting discussion on the pros and cons to each side. Attendees from all over the world, France, Sweden, the UK and Canada talked about the importance of needing a system to overcome current global issues. As part of Development 3 I took the opportunity during this discussion to think about the direction and place of non-profits, NGOs and corporations in the future of facing global issues. I concluded that we all have a part to play, whether it be as part of an organization or in our daily lives, all changes small or big work towards a lasting difference. I look forward to following in the WSF in the future and seeing how discussions like the one I attended make a change in the future of global issues.

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