The establishment and growth of BRICS have been a positive factor in global affairs. The group has contributed significantly to creating an alternative narrative on growth and sustainable development for the benefit of developing countries and emerging economies. It has provided a unique forum to discuss important global governance issues and to deliberate on solutions and ideas that benefit all. We call for further strengthening of engagement among the BRICS countries at all levels –governments, academics, business, scientists and peoples.
Delegates from the five BRICS countries met online at the 13th BRICS Academic Forum in August 2021 and worked out the following conclusions and recommendations.
Significance of BRICS
Big Five Nations: Launched by a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2006 and riding on the political synergy created by regular summits since 2009, BRIC turned itself into BRICS in 2010, with the entry of South Africa.
The importance of BRICS is self-evident: It represents 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and 16% of international trade.
Bridge Between North and South: The grouping has gone through a reasonably productive journey. It strove to serve as a bridge between the Global North and Global South.
Common Global Perspective: The BRICs called for the reform of multilateral institutions in order that they reflect the structural changes in the world economy and the increasingly central role that emerging markets now play.
Development Cooperation: It developed a common perspective on a wide range of global and regional issues; established the New Development Bank (NDB); created a financial stability net in the form of Contingency Reserve Arrangement; and is on the verge of setting up a Vaccine Research and Development Virtual Centre.
Multilateralism and Global Governance
- The past year has continued to be a tumultuous one with the ongoing pandemic.
- This phase proved that the global community is indelibly intertwined, and we need a truly effective and representative multilateral system for successful global governance.
- It has been requested to the BRICS leaders to support new research and collaborative projects by the BRICS countries academics on the future of a strengthened and reformed multilateral system.
- It is essential for promoting the well-being of people and a shared future for sustainable development.
Required measures to reform the multilateral system
- Fair recruitment process at international institution: The BRICS countries through their competent agencies should persist with the call for a more open and merit-based recruitment process at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Completion of 16th General Review of Quotas: It should persist with the call for timely and successful completion of the 16th General Review of Quotas by 2023 which better reflects the voice and demands of the country.
- Implementation of UNGA Resolution 75/1: The leaders should infuse new momentum to the implementation of the resolution UNGA Resolution 75/1.
- It calls for reforms of the principal organs of the UN and instilling new life in the discussions on reform of the UN Security Council and continuing the work to revitalize the General Assembly and strengthen the Economic and Social Council with a view to making them more representative, effective and efficient and to increase the representation of the developing countries.
- Strong call against unfair practices: The BRICS leaders should strengthen the BRICS position against unfair practices and coercive measures not based on international law and UN Charter which undermine the efforts to ensure sustainable development and wellbeing of the World.
- Effective multilateral trading system: The BRICS Leaders should continue to express support for transparent, rules-based, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization at its core.
- Preserving WTO: There should be restoration and preservation of the normal functioning of a two-stage binding WTO Dispute Settlement system, including the expeditious appointment of all Appellate Body.
- The BRICS countries should also voice their support for preserving the centrality, core values and fundamental principles of the WTO, including its development focus, special and differential treatment for developing countries.
Required measures for International Security
- Zero tolerance for terrorism: The BRICS countries should work for a global “zero-tolerance” against support and provision of safe havens to terrorists as well as to recruitment and training, provision of financial assistance and should constantly raise their collective voice against threat emanating from terrorism, extremism conducive to terrorism and radicalization, in accordance with international law.
- Coordination with UN: They should reiterate the coordinating and central role of the UN in combating international terrorism.
- Adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism: It is also important for the BRICS to take a firmer stance on the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN which has not been concluded even after almost 25 years of the proposal first being tabled at the UN in 1996.
- Information security: Information security is critical for the BRICS countries. Sharing of regulations and country practices, countering criminal use of technologies and online misconduct in credit and finance, exchanging information on cyber threats, and sharing best practices in information security, as well as strengthening the legal framework for BRICS cooperation in this regard can be the way-out.
Required measures to avoid the threat of criminal misuse of the digital landscape
- There is a shared concern amongst the BRICS countries that technology is becoming an enabler to very complex forms of threats to humanity including physical threats like human trafficking and drug trafficking.
- The deliberation during the academic process yielded the need for a comprehensive approach for the BRICS countries to respond to shared international security challenges including:
- illicit financial flows
- financing of terrorism
- cyber security
- The challenges pertain to prevention, control and prosecution of the terrorist.
- There should be the best practices in the field of digital forensics, and incorporating learnings both from public and private sector to deal with these.
- Therefore, there must be wide practices of sharing national experiences and perspectives in this field that include scientific community, non- governmental organizations and technology sector corporations.
- BRICS countries should jointly consider capacity building and training programmes for law enforcement and other agencies in addressing issues like dark net and new domains emerging in the digital sector and sharing of best practices.
- The pandemic has also created new challenges to achieving the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments made under UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement.
- Ensuring environmental protection and climate change are important to intra-BRICS initiatives.
- The BRICS countries are against the use of climate, environmental issues as a tool of unfair competition practices.
- The BRICS academics and thinks tanks offer to work towards conducting research and generating suggestions to identify solutions in cooperation with each other but adapted to local methods.
- Decarbonisation initiatives: It’s an important area of exploration for the BRICS countries should be decarbonisation initiatives and opportunities in hard-to-abate industry sectors, including:
- Carbon Capture Utilization (CCU)
- use of hydrogen as a heat source or a reduction agent
- use of biomass, gas and nuclear as an energy source
- Cooperation for energy storage sharing knowledge: There should be further cooperation between the BRICS countries on Energy Storage Sharing of knowledge could help accelerate the transition to climate friendly clean energy.
- Shifting towards clean and renewable energy: The importance of clean and renewable energy cannot be overstated. The BRICS academics and thinks tanks offer to collaborate on generating ideas and pathways to increase the use of clean and renewable.
- Investment in smart infrastructure: Investing in smart infrastructure, clean and green energy for mobility and transportation has the ability to transform markets.
- Smart cities: Smart cities are important to transforming the economy. The BRICS academics and thinks tanks offer to make all efforts to strengthen research and development in the field given that urbanisation is still an ongoing project in major parts of these.
- Responsible financing: The 2020 Memorandum of BRICS Development Finance Institutions’ Principles for Responsible Financing, as approved by BRICS Inter-Bank Cooperation Mechanism, is an important step forward in ensuring that private sector provides its business activities in compliance with the sustainable development agenda committed under the respective national policies.
- Agricultural cooperation and rural development are important aspects of intra-BRICS.
- These issues are central to the improvement of production capacities of agricultural goods as well as the implementation of sustainable development goals in agriculture.
- The BRICS countries contribute a third of all global agricultural output and as such have an important responsibility in ensuring the sustainability of the agriculture and food sector, global food security and nutrition.
- Given this, it is important to accelerate the sharing of information on agriculture technology and innovation.
- Thus, cooperation in this area, including the facilitation and incubation of extensive research, including through early operationalization of the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform.
- The BRICS countries should recognize the importance of disaster risk reduction and create robust and resilient mechanisms in this regard.
- Each BRICS country is facing a range of disaster-related challenges and we recommend national-level studies to identify possible solution.
- As biodiversity conservation has become critical to addressing the challenge of climate change, the BRICS Countries should enhance their cooperation in this regard.
Members of the BRICS Think Tank Council
- Institute for Applied Economic Research, Brazil
- National Committee on BRICS Research, Russia
- Observer Research Foundation, India
- China Council for BRICS Think-tank Cooperation, China
- South African BRICS Think Tank, South Africa
Economic Recovery, Women-led and Inclusive Growth
- There is a need for a collective commitment to women’s economic empowerment.
- In this context, scholars from the BRICS countries share existing studies and jointly research new frameworks promoting gender-responsive budgeting and trade policy, and collection of sex-disaggregated data from various sectors of the economy, especially for women’s participation in MSME, digital economy.
- Unequal growth has been a problem for all the BRICS countries. The BRICS countries should adopt innovative ways to tackle increasing economic inequalities.
- The BRICS academics and researchers should study this aspect, and solutions found could be of use to other developing countries as well.
- Women and youth have faced the socio-economic brunt of the pandemic.
- There is a need for gender-sensitive policymaking that supports women-led enterprises and youth entrepreneurs.
- It is recommending that the New Development Bank introduces a metric that incentivizes the funding of women and youth-led ICT technologies create opportunities for new types of employment, modes of production and business models.
- These can bring benefits to women employment and entrepreneurship.
- The BRICS countries should encourage facilitation of greater access to ICTs to empower women and bridge the digital gender divide to allow for greater participation of women and girls in STEM and develop skills needed for the job market in the digital economy.
- In the post-pandemic economic context, the key challenge for the BRICS countries is to generate employment.
- It is imperative to have national-level plans to revive the service industry which provides livelihoods, particularly tourism.
- Therefore, support for small and medium enterprises that are engaged in this is recommended.
- The importance of cooperation between BRICS countries on health has only increased due to the COVID-19.
- There is need for robust experience sharing and research collaboration that would assist in creating effective policies to respond to global health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, and call for increased intra-BRICS cooperation in this regard.
- Given that the BRICS nations have an immense pool of Traditional Medicinal Knowledge, medicinal plant species, and rich biodiversity.
- It is recommended that they improve cooperation and knowledge sharing to respond to diseases and public health.
- Promoting and encouraging the practice, education, research and training of traditional medicine to improve the quality and outreach of healthcare services is thus suggested as a policy priority towards this end.
- The BRICS countries should enhance sharing knowledge and best practices on responding to the continuing spread of major diseases (HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, etc.).
- The BRICS TB Research Network and the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre, and the Integrated Early Warning System for Preventing Mass Infectious Diseases Risks can be important platforms for making access to healthcare more inclusive and strengthening capacity of the BRICS countries to address public health challenges.
- People-to-People exchanges are a key driver behind the service.
- A coordinated response is imperative for the survival of the tourism and hospitality sector, higher education, and cultural exchanges, which help deepen our understanding of each other’s cultures and foster cooperation.
- BRICS leaders should help support the people-to-people aspect of the BRICS.
- All the five BRICS countries have rich cultural heritage. The use of digital technologies to facilitate cultural exchange and dissemination of information can be helpful.
- Protecting tangible and intangible cultural heritage is an important aspect of cultural and academic cooperation and must be given due priority.
- The pandemic has demonstrated the importance, effectiveness and necessity of digital education and skilling.
- BRICS leaders should encourage national-level studies on the experiences of digital learning in the BRICS countries. This will enable the adoption of best practices and offer solutions to other countries.
During the BRICS process in 2021, under India’s chairmanship of the BRICS, the members of the BRICS Think Tank Council and nominated representatives engaged in several academic dialogues on themes like reformed multilateralism, global health, SDGs, future of work, women-led economic growth, international security, digitalisation, global economic recovery, and green energy. Each dialogue brought together experts in those fields from every member country to get a holistic perspective on how BRICS countries can strengthen their efforts in the respective areas. This is also a vital step towards collecting and building data for BTTC Indicator System to monitor progress on timely and efficient implementation of the BRICS initiatives and leaders’ decisions.