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One forum down, one to go

Posted Jan. 27, 2009 / Posted by: IIlluminato

Meetings took place over the weekend to finalize our activities for the World Forum on Science and Democracy and for the World Social Forum (WSF). Those who have come to the forum have been confronted with not only the challenge of projecting a positive change in the world, as many have had logistical difficulties—from flight cancellations to over booked hotels.  Our work has been difficult!

Audience at the ForumNevertheless, our mission is pushing forward and issues regarding emerging technologies (such as nanotechnology) are taking a world stage like never before. The week started with the opening of the World Forum on Science and Democracy, which will feed into the WSF. Scientists, social movements, and citizens from all over the world (India, the Amazon, Europe, South America, Asia) have gathered to highlight a broken system for enacting scientific "progress," which currently plagues the world. Scientific research and the technology/ideas it produces receive little input from the public and other stakeholders beyond governments and corporations. How is technology supposed to benefit our lives when the public it is created to assist has no voice in its development? This forum has been a space for all stakeholders to share their perspective on science, many have been networking and building strategy for global action on this matter and I am looking forward to collaborating with my new found friends and colleagues.

Ian presentingWe gave a presentation during the forum that highlighted the many human and environmental health implications that nanotechnology and other emerging technologies are producing. This technology is in our food, cosmetics, clothing and many other products we come into contact with daily, yet the science shows that nanoparticles can harm our health and damage delicate environmental systems. Our presentation was greeted with a lot of interest from the many present in the audience and we were interviewed by several radio and television stations. Our work at the forum is also being followed by a film crew from Quebec who will produce a video about Friends of the Earth's work and the Science and Democracy Forum process. I'm looking forward to organizing a screening of the movie in the next months.

The Science and Democracy Forum will come to a close in the afternoon and give way to the opening of the World Social Forum. A protest of an expected 100,000 people is set to take place later today. I look forward to sharing tomorrow on what is expected to be a great rally for world change. In the next days of the forum we will also hold various workshops and seminars on emerging technologies, which we have organized with colleagues from all over the world, including Brazil. Other Friends of the Earth groups are busy preparing for their own workshops which will highlight climate, water, and other environmental issues.

Yesterday I got a peek at the youth camps and grounds of the WSF when I went to pick up my registration card. There’s something about thousands of people from all over the world walking around and interacting for a similar purpose which fills me to the brim with excitement. So many faces, all together, hanging out, dancing, eating together, sleeping in tents and abandoned warehouses and all pushing for a change: it's incredible!

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