The Role of Africa and Asia for a Sustainable World.

55 Years after Bandung Asian-African Conference 1955

A series of conferences, seminars, workshops and festivals in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world in 2009 and 2010 in the framework of a commemoration of the 55th anniversary of Bandung Asian-African Conference 1955


The 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference was a major event of 20th century world history. It was for the first time in history that the representatives of former colonised countries got together and proposed alternatives to the hegemony of superpowers. The conference then was known as the birth date of the Third World, the Emerging Forces, the Developing Countries. It gave the mark to the end of colonialism and the entry of Africa and Asia in the international political scene. It has initiated the making of Non-Aligned Movement, an alternative way between the two blocs of superpowers of the Cold War. It has contributed considerably to the evolution of humanity towards a more just and peaceful world.

The spirit underlying the conference is known under the name of “Bandung Spirit”. In substance, it is a call for a peaceful coexistence among the nations, for a liberation from colonialism, from the system of domination, from the hegemony of superpowers, for a solidarity towards the poor, the colonised, the marginalized, the weak and those weakened by the world order. The Bandung Spirit brings therefore a universal message. It allows the peoples from Africa and Asia, but also from other parts of the world who share its message, to unite their force for an alternative to the two blocks of superpowers. It is to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference that 55 BANDUNG 55 was organised. The name 55 BANDUNG 55 represents a series of events (academic and civil society conferences, seminars, workshops and cultural festivals) organised along the year 2009-2010 in Africa, Asia and Europe, in the framework of the commemoration. The series was started by an inaugural conference in Indonesia (Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta, April 2009), followed by a conference in Morocco (Rabat, May 2009), in France (Paris, November 2009 and February 2010; Le Havre, March 2010), in Algeria (Algiers, May 2010) and ended by a summit in Indonesia (Yogyakarta, Bandung, Jakarta, North Moluccas, October-November 2010).


The year 2010 has been declared by the UN as the Year of Biodiversity. Diversity has been recognised largely as a fundamental condition for the survival of the planet. However, this diversity has been suffering from impoverishment, as indicated among others by the continuous disappearance of rare species, languages and civilisations. The world society has come to be aware of this situation especially since the end of the 20th century, thanks to the progress of science and technology accompanied by the rise of global civil society movements. For thinkers and activists of social and solidarity movements, the main reason of this impoverishment is a type of globalisation, which is dominated by economical and materialist interests, which has appeared to be a single model of development, which puts on the top of priorities material productivity and profit, which transforms nature into commercial commodities, which pushes people to be greedy consumers. This globalisation is led by a small number of economically rich countries, but which take the major part of natural resources of the planet for their own profit, comfort, pleasure and security. It is this single model of development that threatens the survival of the planet, because it would need natural resources of several planets if the whole world follows the model. That is why an alternative model of development is needed if human beings wish a sustainable world.

This alternative model would certainly not be the one that threatens the diversity of life. In the contrary, it should be the one that supports it, that allows to live and develop nature and human beings whatever their skin colour, conviction, ethnic belonging, or mode of life. This model would certainly not be based on the worldview that perceives the diversity of civilisation as successive steps from lower to higher, from less to more, from misery to nobility, but as a continuous process in which diverse modes of life take place, meet, interfere and mix up. Today, all societies in the world are divided by five civilisations following the modes of life of their inhabitants, either inside a country or among the nations. These five modes of life are nomadism, agriculture, trade, industry and digital. The problem starts when one perceives that one civilisation is inferior to another, and that one civilisation pretending to be superior tries to dominate, eliminate or change by force the other.

The challenge of globalisation for a sustainable world is therefore how to deal with diversity of life so that it becomes source of happiness and prosperity, and not source of conflicts and calamities. And Africa and Asia are the huge pool of diversity, either in term of culture, ecology, economy, politics, or religion and spirituality. Within the context of globalisation dominated by short term economical and materialist interests leading to a single model of development and threatening the survival of the earth, Africa and Asia, as the source and as the pool of diversity, must be theoretically able to contribute in directing globalisation towards a sustainable world. How is it possible?

To answer this question, the diversity is to be studied according to its five dimensions, which become the sub-themes of the conference: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Politics, Religion. Since Ecology has developed into two major scientific fields, which are Environment (natural) and City (built environment), it was divided into two sub-sub-themes following these two scientific fields.


The activities have been organised in order to set up and develop cooperation between civil society organisations of Africa, Asia, Europe and other parts of the world who share the Bandung Spirit described previously. More precisely, the activities have been carried out in the form of conferences, seminars and workshops on experiences, knowledge, reflections and concerns related to diversity issues, and the possibilities of cooperation between civil society organisations. These main activities have been enriched by sociocultural visits, encounters and events. Selected papers of the conferences, seminars and workshops will be disseminated through a series of publications.