The Economics and Politics of the World Social Forum: Lessons for the Struggle against ‘Globalisation’

Appendix II: Funds for the World Social Forum

The WSF is not transparent regarding the sources of its funding. Moreover, given the structure of the WSF, where a number of organisations carry on activities semi-autonomously, it is near-impossible to trace the funding provided to all activities by all funding agencies.

A. Funds for the WSF Secretariat

Certain funds are provided directly to the WSF as a body. The following list, available on the WSF website (, does not provide a break-up by amount:

WSF Partners WSF 2001:

Droits et Démocratie — a foundation run by the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ford Foundation
Heinrich Boll Foundation — of the German Greens party, a partner of the ruling coalition in Germany, whose leader, Germany’s foreign minister, was an active supporter of the wars on Yugoslavia and Afghanistan
ICCO — an inter-church organisation, funded by the Netherlands government and the European Union
Le Monde Diplomatique
RITS – Rede de Informações para o Terceiro Setor
The state government of Rio Grande de Sul
The city government of Porto Alegre
WSF Partners WSF 2002:
RITS, EED, CCFD, NOVIB, OXFAM GB, Centro Norte Sul, ACTIONAID, ICCO, FUNDAÇÃO FORD, Governo do Estado de Rio Grande do Sul, Prefeitura de Porto Alegre, Procergs, World Forum for Alternatives.
B. Funding for WSF participantsIn fact the financial role of the funding agencies is much larger than would be reflected in their contributions to the WSF as such. For the same agencies also funded various organisations which attended the WSF, and staged activities there. For example, the following list is from the Ford Foundation website database:
1. Ford Foundation Grants to WSF and Related Operations (from the Ford Foundation website database; apparently does not include current funding)
The following grants have been given as part of Ford’s “Asset Building and Community Development Program”, which “supports efforts to reduce poverty and injustice by helping to build the financial, natural, social, and human assets of low-income individuals and communities.”

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs
Purpose: For the 2003 World Social Forum, where civil society organizations develop social and economic alternatives to current patterns of globalization, based on human rights and sustainable development
Location: BRAZIL
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Governance and Civil Society
Subject: Civil Society
Amount: $500,000

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs
Purpose: Support for the organization of the first World Social Forum Meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil in January 2001
Location: BRAZIL
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Governance and Civil Society
Subject: Civil Society
Amount: $100,000

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs
Purpose: To hold a seminar on international mechanisms for the protection of human rights during the second World Social Forum
Location: BRAZIL
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Human Rights
Subject: Human Rights
Amount: $40,000

Organization: Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute
Purpose: For a multimedia public information campaign at the World Social Forum and the Pan-Amazonian Social Forum
Location: BRAZIL
Program: Asset Building and Community Development
Unit: Community and Resource Development
Subject: Environment and Development
Amount: $30,000

Organization: Feminist Studies and Assistance Center
Purpose: To coordinate a campaign against fundamentalist dogmas during thesecond World Social Forum
Location: BRAZIL
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Human Rights
Subject: Human Rights
Amount: $65,600

Organization: Internews Interactive, Inc.
Purpose: For the Bridge Initiative on Globalization, a collaboration with television agency Article Z, to provide a means of communication for participants in the World Social Forum and World Economic Forum
Location: SAN RAFAEL, CA
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Governance and Civil Society
Subject: Civil Society
Amount: $153,000

2. Sponsors of the World Social Forum media centre

Another example of indirect funding: the WSF media centre, given below.

The “independent” media centre Ciranda was sponsored by Le Monde Diplomatique and IPS, Inter Press Services (IPS). IPS itself is sponsored by:

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Carl-Duisberg-Gesellschaft – CDG (Germany)

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (USA)

Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

European Commission

Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Ford Foundation (USA)

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – FES (Germany)

German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ)

Group of 77, G77

International Labour Organisation – ILO

Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (USA)

Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation, Novib

North-South Centre (Council of Europe)

Norwegian Agency for Development – NORAD

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Student Union, Helsinki University

Swedish International Development

Cooperation Agency – SIDA

U.N. Children´s Fund – UNICEF

U.N. Development Fund for Women – UNIFEM

U.N. Development Programme – UNDP


U.N. Environment Programme – UNEP

U.N. Population Fund – UNFPA

W. Alton Jones Foundation (USA)

3. Other sources of funds

At the first World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, the elected officials present agreed to constitute an International Network of Members of Parliament to advance the goals of the WSF. Francis Wurtz, chairperson of the United Left in the European Parliament, revealed that “The principle was adopted that the European Parliament would take responsibility for the coordination of all technical aspects of the Parliamentary Network, including its financing.”1

The extent of coordination among the WSF funders is clear from the following passage from the website of the US-based “Funders Network on Trade and Globalization”:

“World Social Forum Funder Conference: FNTG initiated and has been helping to organize and co-host (with Ford and Veatch) a funder conference in New York on June 12 [2002] at the Ford Foundation. The convening, which brought together over 60 funders from NY and beyond, highlighted the work of the WSF, but also encouraged funders to support the participation of relevant US and non-US grantees at this annual forum, and the development of alternative strategies for equitable and sustainable development in the US and around the world.”2

Notes: – note1#note11. How Not to Fight Globalization?”, Alan Benjamin, The Organizer, (back)

2.; emphasis added. (back)

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