Originally Published 2012-03-16 00:00:00 Published on Mar 16, 2012
The ORF-hosted BRICS Academic Forum's recommendations to the 4th BRICS Leaders Summit, to be held in New Delhi on March 29, seek to set the agendas for global governance reforms and sustainable development and map out a new geography of cooperation.
Building a new world
The 4th BRICS Academic Forum brought together 60 delegates representing academic institutions, think tanks and expert community from the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in New Delhi on March 4-6.

From the macro discussions on global governance, financial architecture, security and greater coordination, the discussions today focus on the substantive, on experience sharing, on creating Institutions and linking up existing ones. In the fourth year of the BRICS (South Africa joined last year), the group has come of age. This is attested to by two facts. First, the experts from the four countries have signed an agreement to step up their interactions which till now have been sporadic and on the sidelines of the Leaders Summit and two, the wide- ranging recommendations that the experts forum has submitted for the consideration of the Leaders at the summit in New Delhi demonstrate the limitless possibilities for the grouping.

The Forum’s recommendations to the 4th BRICS Leaders Summit to be held in New Delhi on March 29 seek to set the global agendas for governance and sustainable development. The theme for this year’s Academic Forum was "Stability, Security and Growth" and culminated in 17 policy recommendations which centered on key priorities for BRICS in governance, socio-economic development, security and growth.

Varied themes were addressed, including the articulation of a common vision for the future; a framework to respond to regional and global crises; climate change and sustainable resource use; urbanization and its challenges; improving access to health care; scaling up and implementing new education and skilling initiatives; the conceptualization of financial mechanisms to support and drive economic growth and finally sharing technologies, innovations and improving the cooperation across Indus-trial sectors and geographies.

The Forum explored two distinct sets of engagement. One set of engagements is through research and initiatives that are "Intra-BRICS" in nature. These involve experience sharing across social policy, resource efficiency, poverty alleviation programmes, sustainable development ideas, innovation and growth.

The second set of engagements and outcomes pertain to interaction of BRICS with other nations, external actors and groupings at various multi-lateral forums and institutions. These are reflected in the recommendations pertaining to climate policies, Rio+ 20, financial crisis management, traditional security threats, terrorism and other new threats and global challenges around health, IPR and development. There were heated debates on issues such as the possible institutionalization of a BRICS Development Bank and an Infrastructure Investment Fund that could assist in the development aspirations of the BRICS and other developing countries. The discussions on the setting up on new, credible institutions to initially supplement and eventually substitute existing financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF reflect the strong desire of BRICS to move ahead and away from the traditional development agendas of 20th century institutions that are today incapable of reflecting some of the realities and aspirations of the 21st century.

The BRICS Leaders would do well to replicate the cohesiveness of the BRICS academics in the articulation of their vision for creating sustainable economies, ecologies and societies. Similarly the promotion of cultural cooperation, establishing innovation linkages, sharing path-ways to universal healthcare and medicine for all, strengthening indigenous knowledge are all recommendations that are timely and appropriate.

While skeptics may still dismiss the possibility of BRICS being "rule -makers " it is unlikely that they will not influence " rule-making" processes. The incubation period is over, and its time now to set the bar high. The BRICS have indeed created a "new geography of cooperation" and opportunities are boundless.

(Samir Saran is Vice President and Vivan Sharan an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation).

Courtesy: The Economic Times

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