World Social Forum

Friends of the Earth U.S. at World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil

Friends of the Earth Health and Environment Campaigner Ian Illuminato is off to Belem, Brazil to take part in this year's World Social Forum (WSF). Click to see more pictures from Brazil.

World Social Forum IV comes to a close

Today we saw the World Social Forum IV come to a close under rainy skies. The rain united with many tears from the public and from the assembly groups who said their goodbyes and who once more lifted their hopes for change in the world. Though I did not fully understand most of the final speeches, which were delivered in Portuguese and other native languages -- the deep messages of the need for change and the gratitude expressed for our coming together -- filled the audience and everyone present.



12:00 AM Feb 01, 2009 - 1 comments permalink

Nanotechnology, Public Engagement and Human Intent

Today we held our final workshop on nantechnology. This workshop was dedicated to the issue of nanotechnology and public engagement. We talked about how important it is for the public to discuss and have decision making power in the development of nanotechnology, which is currently not a priority for many governments worldwide. The very few nanotech public engagement activities we’ve witnessed in the past have mostly been focused on marketing nanotechnology products and new applications.  Spaces to discuss the societal and ethical risks of nanotechnology are rare.



05:00 PM Jan 31, 2009 - 3 comments permalink

Nanotechnology and Worker Safety

Today our World Social Forum workshop focused on nanotechnology and worker safety. We listened to Brazilian worker union representatives and worker safety specialist who talked to the audience about the many risks involved in working with nanoparticles.  Carbon nanotubes, for example, have been shown to cause similar damage to asbestos in the lungs—asbestos causes Mesothelioma and leads to deadly cancer. Workers are not outfitted with appropriate safeguards when they come into contact with these materials.



12:30 PM Jan 30, 2009 - 0 comments permalink

Our First Workshop

Forum ParticipantsToday we held our first workshop on the WSF's beautiful grounds by a river that connects to the Amazon forest. We organized the workshop as a space to discuss nanotechnology, public engagement and the technologies novel risks for humans and the environment. I presented along with professors from universities in Brazil, Spain and France. I gave an overview of what nanotechnology is and I highlighted some of the nano products Friends of the Earth has identified.



06:30 PM Jan 28, 2009 - 6 comments permalink

Marching into our workshops

MarchToday, I took part in a march attended by more than 80,000 people! This march was the start of the World Social Forum. I’ve never witnessed such a colorful and powerful protest. It was peaceful, full of music, drums, singing and dancing. The Amazonian tribes that participated were definitely the highlight of the march. What first caught my attention was their colorful clothing, body art and head dresses. But I was mostly intrigued by their dancing: they danced in unison with bow and arrow in hand (some of them running throughout the march) and the energy that carried their dance was mesmerizing. You could feel their presence way beyond just visually — quite the experience!



09:00 PM Jan 27, 2009 - 2 comments permalink

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