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World Social Forum summit calls for global cooperation

Chico Whitaker, World Social Forum’s co-founder, speaks at a press conference in Montreal on August 8, 2016 © AFP / Marc Braibant

Montreal, Canada, Aug 9 – Organizers of the World Social Forum are hoping to bridge what they described Monday as a north-south divide in tending to the world’s social ills.

Speaking ahead of the annual summit’s kick-off in Montreal, WSF spokesman Raphael Canet told a press conference: “We must overcome the divide between north and south… Social inequalities know no boundaries.”

Regardless of whether countries are in the wealthier northern hemisphere or the poorer southern hemisphere, all face similar social problems, he said. Some are global in scale, such as tax cheating and environmental degradation.

Born out of violent protests as a counterweight to its capitalist rival, the World Economic Forum, the WSF provides a space for decentralized debate and an exchange of ideas, as well as the coordination of global campaigns.

Henry Minztberg, professor at McGill university, speaks at a press conference of the World Social Forum in Montreal on August 8, 2016 © AFP / Marc Braibant

Its 12th edition is being held in a Group of Seven industrialized nation — Canada — for the first time to symbolize that poor and rich nations suffer the same plights.

“The problems that we face in the third world are the same as in industrialized countries, for example, climate change,” WSF co-founder Chico Whitaker said.

The summit will host talks on topics including fighting tax evasion, climate change, the plight of refugees and struggles against racism, xenophobia, patriarchy and fundamentalism.

Representatives from 5,000 civil society groups will take part in workshops, debates and performances across Montreal from Tuesday through Sunday.

Chico Whitaker (L), World Social Forum’s co-founder, and Raphael Canet (R), organizer of this 12th edition, attend a press conference in Montreal on August 8, 2016 © AFP / Marc Braibant

Some 80 university professors, leftist politicians, trade unionists and anti-globalization activists are scheduled to speak. They include Canadian activist Naomi Klein, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and French philosopher Edgar Morin.

However, organizers are expecting only half the number of delegates from previous years, as several invitees could not afford the travel and accommodations, even with subsidies.

More than 230 guests were also denied entry into Canada.

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