Considerations of the Final Plenary of the Fifth World Forum on Science and Democracy

We, participants of the Fifth World Forum on Science and Democracy (WFSD), met on 14 and 15 March 2018 in Salvador, Brazil, to continue the meetings of civil society actors committed to the democratization of science. These meetings have been taking place within the framework of the World Social Forum (WSF) since 2009. With the objective of promoting a qualified debate, we have had the opportunity for an international exchange of experiences, knowledge and strategies in the field of coproducing a democratic, decolonial and emancipatory science.

This year, the fifth edition of the FMCD was attended by participants from the United Kingdom, Peru, Italy, France, the United States, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Algeria and Germany, both face-to-face and virtual.  Working on round tables and debates, we reflected critically on how democracy is present or absent in the different dimensions that make up the relationships between science and technology (or technoscience, as many of the colleagues present in the Fifth World Conference on Science and Technology prefer and argue) and society. The following are some of the considerations expressed and debated among participants.

We question the Code of Ethics recently presented at the Davos Economic Forum, explaining the tension it establishes with the principles of another ethics – solidary and emancipatory – shared and promoted within the framework of the WSF. In particular, we criticize the idea that technoscientific research is considered individual and isolated from the political system and society in general in which it is inserted, pretending to be neutral and seeking the truth. In particular, we reject the tendency of public policy to increasingly foster its achievement in favor of market-driven business innovation. We believe we need to deepen the conceptual debate about science, technology (or technoscience) and the ethics implicit in their different meanings.

We affirm that responsibility for the ethical, social, economic, environmental, and political implications of technoscientific research can not be solely individual, of the researchers who carry it out but also or even mainly of the governments and of the public and private organizations involved. This is why we call attention to the need for a broad debate within the research community and with public participation on its objectives, uses, destinations and implications. We emphasize the specific role of scientists and engineers in social and political efforts to protect and expand the common good.

There is a crisis in our existing democratic mechanisms, which do not adequately address the complex issues of coproduction between technoscience and society and which have long-term consequences. We need mechanisms that respect the fundamental democratic principle that all citizens’ voices and of traditional, indigenous and peasant communities have parity participation.

Members of the research community and community of engineers, technicians, and other science workers should use techno-scientific knowledge to construct a public dialogue, reporting the uncertainties, risks, and limitations of the knowledge involved in the decision-making process that guides public policy and assist in the democratic and inclusive assessment of its implications. In addition, we emphasize their role of resistance to the efforts of private interest groups to guide this process to their benefit. We point out the criminalization, persecution and isolation of researchers and scientists who manifest themselves independently of private interests, for denouncing the risks associated with technologies and models of production and consumption that they impose – directly or even subliminally – on the population.

We affirm that actions aimed at engaging the public with science cannot serve for the dissemination or propaganda of technoscience. They should serve for the collective production of knowledge that meets the priority demands of social needs (food, housing, decent work, education) and for the defense of fundamental, social and environmental rights. We warn about the appropriation of citizen science for private profit purposes.

We denounce the privatization of higher education and the precariousness of its workers by the conservative governments that have been taking place in several countries due to the resumption of the neoliberal prescription. We defend university autonomy for the democratic updating of its emancipatory practices. We reject the dismantling and privatization of the public systems of science and technology and the private appropriation of the results of research done with public funds, the intellectual property regime that commodifies the knowledge that arises from the common / public.

Decisions on science and technology (technoscience) policies should not be restricted to scientists and academics but should be included in governance structures of public and collective affairs, especially those related to climate change, energy, water, transgenics and agrochemicals, nanotechnology and biotechnology. We denounce the authoritarian and excluding practice that grants to technocratic commissions the function of counseling and regulation of these matters, taking the power to decide out from the public sphere t to hand it over to experts who often have conflicts of interest and even a proven connection with private corporations. We also suggest the design of other procedures and protocols that prevent new technologies from being incorporated without participation and public debate.

We critically reflected on the situation of women workers in the face of the so-called 4th industrial revolution. We point out the relationship between emerging technologies and their convergences – shaped by the dynamics of exploitation of the global technoscientific frontier by large corporations – with the world of work. In particular, we denounce the precarious conditions of health and safety, labor flexibility, loss of jobs and income. We alert to the negative impacts related to the transfer to the periphery of productive activities of low value aggregation (reprimarization process) and high environmental impact (exploitation of natural resources, including water).

Encouraging this space of altermundist articulation of the WSF and our FMCD, we emphasize the need to promote the expansion of debates and initiatives of public action aiming at the international solidarity of our struggles with students, researchers and teachers from occupied territories such as Palestine, or in countries where they suffer from strong government repression, such as Turkey.

We endorse the call of Dakar of the World Federation of Scientific Workers (WFSW) to scientists in all countries to commit themselves to the preservation of Earth’s system and all the common goods of humanity and, in cooperation, to contribute to the achievement of these objectives and, more broadly, for the development of an international movement capable of achieving them.

We reiterate the importance of conceiving science itself as a common good, that the ethics of research and the use of its technoscientific results have the common interest as an orientation and action axis. Science is vital to our societies and to the communion of common goods, both physical and social. In this way, we emphasize the need for political action in the institutions and networks of education and research, for the democratization of production, access, definition of priorities and regulation of science and technology, in order to guide them against the inequities and structural inequalities of society .


Salvador, March 15th 2018


Executive Committee of the V WFSD:

Mauricio Berger, Paulo Fonseca e Paulo Martins


Directly contributed to the preparation of this text:

Arline Arcuri- Tsouria Berbar-  Edgard Blaustein- Marc Delepeuve- Renato Dagnino- Philipe Bourdien- Valery LiletteMarijane LisboaMaria Jose MalheirosRaimundo Ribeiro- Raquel RigottoJean-Marc Rio- Fernando Rivera- Jorge Pontes


5th World Forum on Science and Democracy

The 5th World Forum on Science and Democracy (WFSD) will continue the meetings of representatives of civil society engaged in the democratization of the production of scientific and technological knowledge that have taken place in the framework of the World Social Forum since 2009. This year, the fifth edition of the FMCD will count with the presence of volunteers from countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Peru, France, USA, Senegal, Italy, Finland, United Kingdom, Germany, among others, that will participate, in person or by virtual means, round tables and debates. This will be a moment for critical reflection on how democracy is present or absent in the different dimensions that make up the relations between science, technology and society.

The event, open to all who wish to participate, aims to promote a qualified debate on varied axes of discussion, offering an opportunity for the international exchange of experiences, knowledge and strategies of action in the field of coproduction of a democratic, decolonial and emancipatory science.

The activity will take place on March 14 and 15, between 09:00 and 18:00, in the rehearsal room of the School of Music, in UFBA’s  Canela Campus of UFBA (Av. Reitor Miguel Calmon, S/N).


Call for participation to the organization of the 5th World Forum on Science and Democracy, in the frame of the World Social Forum, Salvador de Bahia, March 2018

The initiative to make the Fifth Edition of the World Forum of Science and Democracy was presented to the International Council of the World Social Forum in its meeting in Bahia. This initiative has the support from colleagues and networks from many countries, mainly from Brasil, USA and Europe.

Our proposal was wellcome and had the aproval from the members of the WSF International Council and from the  WSF local comitee at Bahia. It´s time now yo start the organization process, for which we are making an international call to receive more international support and participation from all the continentes, and to give shape and contents: proposal of activities, workshops, roundtables, plenary sessions, etc., during the WFSD.


  1. Support, remote collaboration, participation in person

All the activities are self- managed, which means that this organization won´t have funds to afdford travel or accomodation. We would like to know those who can participate, to confirm wether you will be able to participate in person or remote (skype, streaming, videoconference, etc.).


  1. Proposal of activities for the WFSD

As a democratic forum involved in the struggle against capitalist science, there is not a closed agenda for debate, but there are pressing issues that may structure some axis of discussion, are, for example:

– science and technology as a common good

– decolonizing university and research institutions

– assessment and governance of emerging technologies

– public engagement in science and technology

– feminism science and technology

– science and technology for social development

– promoting community based participatory reserch

– persecution and criminalization of scientists involved in struggles for rights

– scientific research for what and for whom

– public policy of science and technology

– challenges of climate change, environment, poverty and armed conflict: what alternatives to the current research policies?


  1. Definition of dates, schedule and place of the event

World Social Forum is going to take place in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, from 13th to 17th of march, at the facilities of the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). Our WFSD will take place during this week, in dates to be define with the local committee of the WSF.

In relation to the schedules, we will have two complete days, divided each one in 2 modules of 4hs morning and afternoon,which should include the development of the proposed activity plus a brief summary report.

Each activity should last at most 2 hours, and we should reserve the final 2 hours (or more if necessary) for plenary session. 

In this way we will have 7 sessions of activities plus 1 plenary session.


  1. Contact

Support, questions, suggestions and proposal of activities can be sent to contact2018(at)


 Deadline for proposal of activities for the WFSD: January 28th, 2018.

Disponible en / Available in: French, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil)

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