The World Citizens’ Movement – many paths, one direction

Kosmos is an enthusiastic participant in the World Citizens Movement. After two global conferences in Johannesburg in 2013 and 2014, that united 400 global citizens from all over the world, the next milestone is the World Social Forum in Tunis this March, building on the vision of the Johannesburg Compass.

Conference Report: Toward a world citizens’ movement – the story of the movement from Johannesburg 2014 to Tunis 2015 and beyond.

Conference Report: Toward a world citizens’ movement – the story of the movement from Johannesburg 2014 to Tunis 2015 and beyond

by Olivier Consolo – January 2015  FULL REPORT HERE


International solidarity is today what may best define our multiple engagements, practices and aspirations, even though some of us might feel part of other definitions or meanings. This broad and diverse world movement is not new but needs to transform and evolve in order to better respond to the current and future challenges that our societies and the planet are facing.

International solidarity has always been built from within solidarities in our own societies. It is not a top-down approach from the global level, but a bottom-up construction because it is about building solidarities and respect among and between people, societies and with nature.

We are increasingly aware that our current efforts are a modest contribution to a broader and longer history of movements and struggles, such as: the civil & political rights movement, workers movements, the feminist movements, democracy & human rights movements, peasants and landless movements, movement for decolonisation, ecologist movement, peace & anti-war movements, native people movements, anti-apartheid movements, third-world movement, alter-globalisation movement, etc.

Most of these movements have emerged and built from local struggles. They have also developed an international solidarity dimension over time connecting with other struggles and movements at various levels.

This report is not a description of the activities that took place (for the descriptive text, read the short report), nor a political declaration. It is a modest attempt to describe the complex process participants have embarked into since 2013 but also an invitation to open future dynamics and initiatives within it. Therefore, it should not be considered as a definite outcome but on the contrary as a call to join and to shape the process with all of us.

Acknowledging the diversity of our realities, our rich history and our shared values, we call for a vibrant and inclusive world citizens’ movement that connects local and international leaders, activists, organisations of all sorts. We call for active citizens to facilitate a transformation of the current economic and political paradigms to a system that can deliver well-being for all people as well as for the planet!



In order to be in movement, to become or to form a movement, we need a common direction, shared visions and a compass. Civil society organisations and activists used to invest a lot of time and energy in defining these shared visions while keeping in mind the necessity to respect the diversity of people, organisations and engagements. During our previous two conferences in Johannesburg in 2013 and 2014 we have identified elements of such a shared vision which is summarized in “The Johannesburg compass: Questions and orientations”.

Many other visions have been produced by civil society organisations and movements (people treaties, international CSOs declarations, extensive policy analysis and recommendations, many manifesto from NGOs and social movements, etc.). Our compass acknowledges this reality and welcomes these previous and future contributions from a large spectrum of actors and movements. But we don’t need to answer to all the questions we face before starting to move together. We acknowledge that taking the time to identify the right questions is much more important than to find short-term answers to the wrong questions.

Nevertheless, strong elements of our shared vision are already floating and rooting this recent world citizens’ movement initiative. We understand from our practices and from what we have learned over the last years that incremental changes from within the system – the focus on established institutions and political bodies at local, national or international level – are not enough anymore. This is not enough if we want to address the roots causes of injustice, inequalities and to address the multiple attacks against our planet. We acknowledge that our current economic and political environment needs a deep transformation based on an urgent and explicit ‘value’ shift. Money, greed, competitiveness, materialism, profit and the focus on shortterm results must not be any longer the mainstream thinking and framing the values of our societies all over the world.

We believe and claim loudly (sometimes after too many years of shyness) that another value frame already exists and that it is concretely experimented in the real lives of millions of people and organisations all over the world. This other value frame is based on Human Rights, gender equality, tolerance, love, solidarity, powers balance, long-term thinking, responsibilities for the current and future impact of all our human activities, respect of nature, respect of our diversity, inclusiveness, sharing and mutual learning.

Some of Johannesburg participants are also calling to move towards the Great Transition (others prefer to talk about the ‘ecology transition’), which consists on long-term strategies of engagements at three levels which should contribute to accompany and support people to move from current societies and patterns to the next step:

– The level of ‘seeds’ represented by the thousands of existing local experiments which constitute a unique and living library of concrete and viable solutions to transform our local lives, ecosystems and societies,

– The level of ‘regimes’ represented mainly by ‘institutions’ that our societies have developed to manage states, private sector actors, but also religions or local territories. Instead of engaging most of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) energy and resources as it is today in transforming the old institutions, the Great Transition calls also for active experimentation and development of new institutions and coalitions.

– The level of ‘culture’, which shapes the discourse, values and worldviews in our minds and societies. In order to support people to voluntarily move to another world, practices and behaviours we also need to act and think differently at the levels of our narratives, our shared ‘imaginaires’ and our

Beyond the different words and concepts, we reaffirm that a world citizens’ movement has to embrace practices, values and visions that deeply challenge the status quo and lead to radically transformative thinking and practices. We want to embark into a world citizens’ movement which is built on humanist and ecology values, which celebrates diversity while being inclusive and strategic.