The 10th World Social Forum opened on Tuesday in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre with a call for activists across the world to "unite to change the world."
More than 25,000 trade unionists and social, environmental and political activists from around the globe kicked off the first of almost 30 World Social Forum (WSF) events that will take place throughout the world this year.
Brazilian human rights activist Sergio Bernardo proclaimed that "the rich have driven the capitalist system into chaos, but the WSF will be letting them know that we can create a world free of exploitation that will help the poor."
Catholic liberation theologist Francisco Whitaker pointed out that "lingering fallout from the financial crisis is proof that the world economy must be re-tooled to benefit people, not big companies."
Mr Whitaker explained that the WSF was set up to counter the "worldview" of rich nations that hold their annual economic conference in Davos, Switzerland.
"The last Davos meeting was similar to a wake and their attitude this year gives the impression that capitalism is on the downfall and hitting its limits," he declared.
Brazil's CUT union confederation president Joao Felicio urged the WSF to "adopt a declaration containing positions on which a consensus has been reached such as anti-imperialism and the financialisation of wealth."
"Mass movements are essential in order to change the world, but the game can only be won if you step out in the field to play," added Brazilian MST (Landless Workers Movement) leader Joao Pedro Stedile.