Difficult beginning at the Civil Society Global Forum

A few days before the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Civil Society Global Forum begins in Johannesburg. It gathers a great number of NGOs which work on a variety of movements, against poverty, for human rights and environmental protection. It is an ambitious project: to present a strong and unified document which can influence the works of the Summit. But there are many difficulties. After many frustrations at the poor organization of events thus far, we heard the reasons behind the difficulties. When the South African government contracted to host the Summit and the Global Forum well over a year ago, it owned the facilities that are home to the Forum. A few months later, the government privatized the facilities and, at that point, the cost for use of the place skyrocketed well beyond what the organizing committee could afford. As a result precious months of preparation time were lost to frantic fund raising efforts.The end result is an organizing committee that is far behind schedule in preparing the program and a great set of facilities that are being hastily prepared even as delegates struggle to find events to participate in. As the Pre-summit and parallel events began to unfold, it also became clear that the effort has been damaged by in-fighting within and among South African NGOs, which are responsible for the organisation.