Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 42.2020
2020.10.12 — 2020.10.18
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
4 Reasons Why India Supports the BRICS (Четыре причины, по которым Индия поддерживает БРИКС) / India, October, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion

The Russian government announced that the annual five-nations BRICS Summit will be held virtually on November 17. Russia is chairing the BRICS this year; the meeting will bring China's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi face-to-face for the first time since the military standoff between the two countries in Ladakh started more than five months ago. Given the virtual format of the meeting, it is not known whether the two can have a side meet which could facilitate a diplomatic resolution of the ongoing crisis, something that looks more remote with each passing day.

The BRICS is widely derided, especially in the West, where it is variously described as a talk shop among apparently incongruent powers and a meaningless investment-banking acronym long past its sell-by date. And there is more than a germ of truth to this. It is difficult to consider China as an emerging power anymore. To put that country and South Africa at the same table makes for manifestly curious optics, given that the Chinese economy is roughly 36 times bigger that South Africa's. Brazil and Russia, beyond both being commodities exporters, have as much, or as less, in common as Brazil and Nigeria, for example. And then, of course, there are India and China, whose geopolitical rivalry now threatens to erupt into overt military hostilities.

And yet, the BRICS persists. For more than a decade, the leaders of the grouping have met annually, issuing (carefully negotiated) joint statements touching on a range of political and economic issues, along with side meetings of their foreign ministers and national security advisors. The BRICS' New Development Bank (NDB), established in 2014, continues its activities, which included advancing a loan of $1 billion to India in May to fight COVID-19-induced costs. Add to this numerous side-activities, including at the non-governmental level, and you'd also be left wondering why the grouping soldiers on dispute it being written off with predictable regularity by commentators in the United States – and India.

This presents something of a puzzle, both for analysts as well as theorists of international relations and multilateral institutions. I'd argue that there are essentially four reasons why India continues to back the BRICS.

Scholars have suggested one of the factors behind the persistence of international institutions is because of "sunk costs" – efforts expended to set up an institution that can not be recovered, therefore binding the actors involved in setting it up permanently. As John Ikenberry has argued, institutions persist since the costs of setting them up are often much higher than that of dissolving them. While the BRICS itself remains an informal institution without a charter, unlike, say, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the NDB – as a multilateral bank – is, by definition, a rigidly formalized institution. Therefore, even if the BRICS were to dissolve, or vastly dilute its activities, the Bank itself will ensure that the five countries are permanently bound through a single institution.

But beyond this is the issue of the BRICS itself. Assume India decided to pull itself away from that grouping by refusing to attend one of its annual summits, for example, as it has done with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation since 2016. That would signify India's move away from its self-ascribed role as an emerging powers leader, and act to directly snub Russia, which has traditionally reposed a lot of interest in the BRICS. And then, there is also the question of domestic politics. New Delhi has often equated BRICS with its participation in other "Western-led" groupings such as the Quad, in order to signal to domestic constituencies that its commitment to strategic autonomy and multi-aligned foreign policy remains intact. Under such circumstances, the "cost" India would pay from dissolving the BRICS is far higher than simply playing along, despite its diminishing dividends from participation in that grouping.

Safe space

The BRICS also allows India and China to modulate their rivalry within the setting of a small grouping, even when bilateral relations remain rocky. This was clear during the Doklam standoff of 2017, when both sides remained engaged through BRICS throughout the entirety of the crisis; this has also been the case so far during the ongoing Ladakh standoff. Groupings like the BRICS and the SCO afford both India and China the opportunity to "decouple" their strategic contest from the other dimensions of the relationship. (While this has been the formula through which both sides have engaged each other for more than three decades now, there are signs from the past few months that India is increasingly uncomfortable with it.)

Another aspect here is the role of Russia. As close observers of the India-China standoff in Ladakh will attest, Moscow continues to play an important though discreet role in bringing both sides to the negotiating table. India's dependence on Russia weaponry is deep enough for New Delhi to be not able to offend Russian sensibilities directly. The very fact that Russia is chairing the BRICS this year almost axiomatically implied that India would participate in the BRICS activities despite everything else.


As many scholars of Indian foreign policy have persuasively argued, a lot of India's behavior in the world stage can be explained by its quest for international status. While this was most pronounced during the Cold War, when a materially enfeebled India continued to lecture the West and sought to lead motley Third World coalitions, status-seeking hasn't disappeared, despite the country's newfound advocacy of a realist foreign policy. BRICS is a case in point.

As India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently described it, BRICS provides India a transcontinental reach by virtue of Brazil and South Africa's presence. While one can rightly litigate what, in fact, has concretely materialized from this reach, the fact of the matter is India's presence in BRICS looks good, presenting the country as a truly international player. In fact, New Delhi's participation in a variety of informal arrangements is a low-cost way for it to signal its aspirations as a global power, even though – in the strict material sense – its equities, say in South America, remain limited.


This brings us to the fourth reason behind the BRICS' persistence. India is a proudly revisionist power when it comes to the extant structure of international organizations and the United Nations system. It continues to maintain that the international system does not recognize the country's economic and political heft and demands top-down reform, beginning with the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) where it seeks permanent membership. Even a casual look at RICS joint statements from the past reveals that reform of the international multilateral architecture remains the key political issue for the BRICS.

New Delhi is not naive enough to believe that China, for example, would substantially advocate a greater role for India especially where it matters – the UNSC. But that said, the BRICS' repeated calls for reform boosts India's own assertions in this direction, acting as a multiplier to the country's own demands for reform.

Abhijnan Rej is Security & Defense Editor at The Diplomat.

The Diplomat

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of InfoBRICS.

Kazan to host 5th BRICS Young Diplomats Forum on October 21-24 (21-24 октября в Казани пройдет V Форум молодых дипломатов БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: quotation, social_issues, mofa

In accordance with the programme of the Russian BRICS chairmanship in 2020, the Russian Foreign Ministry Council of Young Diplomats, jointly with Roscongress Foundation and the Academy of Youth Diplomacy of the Republic of Tatarstan, is holding, on October 21-24, the 5th BRICS Young Diplomats Forum in Kazan.

The event will centre around discussions on the role of young professionals in strengthening diplomatic relations; development of cooperation within the BRICS and BRICS + formats (visas, interregional projects, promotion of tourism and innovation); and digitalisation of diplomatic activities. The forum will end with a roundtable at Innopolis University and the traditional adoption of the outcome document.

The speakers at the forum will include Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan Farid Mukhametshin; Deputy Prime Minister of Tatarstan Leila Fazleyeva; Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department of International Information Security Andrey Krutskikh; Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Director of the Information and Press Department Maria Zakharova; Rector of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy Alexander Yakovenko; Foreign Ministry's Special Envoy Steven Seagal; and Chairman of the Association of Volunteer Centres Artyom Metelev.

On October 16, at 12 noon, an online news conference will be held at TASS, dedicated to the 5th BRICS Young Diplomats Forum.

War in the Caucasus. Neo-Ottoman Empire, Eurasia, Asian NATO and Kavzak 2020 (Война на Кавказе. Неоосманская империя, Евразия, азиатское НАТО и Кавзак 2020) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: political_issues

Erdogan is igniting new conflicts an wars in his pursuit for a Neo-Ottoman Empire. This time in the Caucasus. While Turkey held several joint maneuvres with Azerbaijan and there were talks about a Turkish military base in Azerbaijan, we now face a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Erdogan wants to send 4000 Turkish fighters from Syria in support of Azerbaijan. Here is the full story.

Azerbaijan and Amernia have a conflict about Nagorno-Karabakh, a region which is the lifeline for oil- and gas pipelines and a transit hub. It seems that the Caucasus region beyomnd Syria and Libya becomes another hot spot between Russia and Turkey. On July 29, Azerbaijan and Turkey launched a two-week-long round of joint military exercises with the participation of ground and air forces from both countries. The military drills involving land forces were held from August 1 to 5, in Baku and Nakhchivan; while the exercises with the participation of military aviation occurred between July 29 and August 10, in Baku, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Kurdamir and Yevlakh The Azerbaijani-Turkish drills caused considerable anxiety in Armenia. Meeting with the ambassadors of France and Russia as well as Iran's newly appointed envoy to Yerevan, Armenia's Defense Minister David Tonoyan said that his government would be monitoring the scheduled military drills by Turkey and Azerbaijan (Asbarez, July 29). While praising the military partnership between Armenia and Russia and organizing joint military exercises with the Russian army, Tonoyan described Azerbaijan's military drills with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member Turkey as "destabilizing"for the region

In an article for Daily Sabah and RIAC Basel Haj Jasem already asked: "Will Turkey establish a military base in Azerbaijan?":

"The political and media circles in the former Soviet countries continually discuss the issue of establishing a Turkish military base in the Republic of Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus. The discussion of the Turkish military presence in Azerbaijan is always linked to the coldness or warmth of relations between Moscow and Ankara, especially when the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict flares up."

Azerbaijani political expert Gabel Husayn Ali said that during the return visit of the high Turkish military delegation, issues of establishing a Turkish military base in Nakhchivan (likely to have reached a joint conclusion), and of establishing another military base in Absheron Peninsula were discussed in detail(…).

Whether Turkey will establish a base in Azerbaijan or not, it should be noted that, even a few years ago, Turkey did not have military bases outside its territory, except for its military presence in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1974, and today Turkey has military bases in Somalia, Qatar, Iraq and Syria.

Not to forget: Turkey also wants to build a military base in Sudan. Erdogan is pushing his neo-Ottoman Empire in Northern Syria, Lybia, Sudan, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Erdogan advances in establishing his Neo-Ottoman Empire. The list is long: after supporting the Muslim Brothers everywhere in the Greater Middle East, equipping Islamist homicide militias from Syria to Libya, he becomes partly responsible for these civil wars and refugee flows, now portrays himself hypocritically as saviors of refugees and human rights, and is silencing the EU through the refugee deal, which he now wants to expand to Libya. After establishing a military base in Sudan, now marching into northern Syria and moving Turkish troops to Libya and also seeing his claims to gas deposits in the Mediterranean and the latter as his Mare Nostrum, building a second Bosporus Canal, refusing NATO ships to pass through the Bosporus to the Black Sea, procuring S 400 rockets from Russia despite all NATO protests, as well as Russian nuclear power plants and, with Putin, sees itself as a new regulatory force in the MENA region, he is now reaching out to Pakistan and Central Asia. We probably could have two Islamist belts: one from Somalia to the Sahel to Nigeria with the Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Shaabab and a second from North Africa to Syria with Erdogan-backed Muslim Brothers and the FIS in Algeria. The best thing would be if they fought over each other. Whether Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan would remain stable remains to be seen The whole thing is also fueled by Palestine and Jerusalem. And there is also the US- Iranian conflict on the top, and it remains to be seen whether the PLO can still hold power and is not taken over by Hamas or even more radical forces.

Professor Rahr however thinks that Russia and Erdogan in the midterm would become tactical partners and great powers:

"I may be wrong, but in the medium-term – unlike most Western experts – I see Russia and Turkey as two neo-great powers that are more tactical allies than opponents. Russia does not have to fear any military pressure on its borders from Turkey. Turkey does not support Tatar separatism in Crimea. Like his predecessors, Erdogan still supports Islamist rebels in the North Caucasus. On the issue of control over the Black Sea region, Moscow and Ankara are close. Both do not want a strategic presence of NATO in their "inland sea Turkey does not participate in Western sanctions against Russia. Ankara has de facto recognized Abkhazia as a state because it invests there. Turkey is part of a tactical alliance Moscow-Ankara-Tehran in the Near and Middle East. Turkey falls out on many issues with the US and the EU – and since NATO is Russia's main adversary today, this brings strategic advantages for Russia. Russia and Turkey are united in a gas alliance in the Black Sea region, which is currently suspended because Turkey is demanding lower gas prices from Russia. Moscow and Ankara will come to an agreement in Syria, and in the end Putin will persuade the Syrian ruler Assad to accept a Turkish protectorate in the north of the country. In Libya, too, the Russians prefer Turkey to be an active creative power than NATO. Putin and Erdogan have a close relationship, they are talking to each other in order to prevent another incident, such as the shooting down of a Russian fighter plane in Syria, which put both countries in the face of a military conflict."

However, it remains to be seen if Russia´s and Turkey´s interests won´t collide in other regions if the Muslimbrothers want to topple General Al Sissi in Egypt, Assad in Syria or King Hussein in Jordan or now in the Caucasus.

In view of the human rights violations in Turkey, the authoritarian regime that has imprisoned over 200,000 political prisoners, Erdogan's expansionism, which is now also directed against NATO partners Greece and Europe, demands for sanctions are being considered by both the US and the EU. The goal, however, remains unclear: to sanction Erdogan on occasion so that he is not directed against Western interests, regime change to end the neo-Ottoman adventure, with opponents of the sanction pointing out that Erdogan could join Russia and China and the SCO and then one could had a bigger problem. Especially about regime change: who could topple Erdogan domestically and replace him? Is there still a perspective on the part of the remaining secular parties or, as Daniel Pipes suspects, a moderate Islamist such as Davotoglu with a new zero-problem foreign policy or an Islamic US-exiled Gülen movement that could defuse the matter, especially in terms of Gulen's foreign policythat has so far only announced that he would mobilize a Gülen Turkey, especially against Iran, or are there any remnants in the Turkish military that could produce a Neo-Attaturk who would end the Sultan and his neo-Ottoman ambitions? Or from an alliance of these forces?

Until then, Erdogan is playing with the West, which has already become fragile due to Trump, and Russia all the time. Wouldn't it be better to approach Russia more to end this divide et impera and strategic balancing? It is also interesting that parts of the Putin administration think that NATO is letting Erdogan advance as an ally in the Caucasus. It would be tough for value-oriented transatlanticists to consider the option of a joint NATO-Russia containment against Erdogan's neo-Ottoman Empire, but Erdogan might be a greater danger than Putin. In Egypt, Erdogan's Muslim Brotherhood has now started anti-Al-Sissi protests, as well as in Jordan against King Hussein, in order to destabilize and overthrow both. It is still unclear whether this will lead to further unrest, instability and a strengthening of Islamist groups. But beyond the direct military conflict, both sides are now destabilizing internally as well, which can encourage further state collapse.

Like many Western strategists, Putin hopes to be able to steer Erdogan's neo-Ottoman Empire against the West or vice versa against Russia. Like Germany, which was neutral at the time in the middle of Europe, Erdogan is now in the middle of the Greater Middle East, plays both sides against each other and is expanding all the time. Like Germany at the time, its own expansion efforts made it an objective disruptive factor and continued to pull both sides into the conflict – a sleepwalker between both worlds. However, Putin hopes to be able to weaken the West through Erdogan and he would like to see a war between NATO members Greece and Turkey very much, while several forces in the West hope to be able to use Erdogan's expansionism against Russia. Both sides make this calculation and are brought into position against each other by Erdogan. It is also significant that German chancellor candidate Norbert Röttgen sees Putin primarily as an enemy, allegedly also because of human rights violations and Putin's actions to secure the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and the Russian military bases in Syria, but speaks out against sanctions against Erdogan, since Turkey would be a regulatory and too important power in the Greater Middle East. If Putin-Russia and the EU or even NATO were to take sanctions and measures against Erdogan-Turkey together, the neo-Ottoman sultan would be history within a month. But that will in all probability not happen because Putin and most western politicians have different geopolitical calculations and hopes. And as Trump is withdrawing from the Greater Middle East, allowing the MENA region to be divided between Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Putin and Iran and wants to let them fight it out and experience their own imperial overstretch, he only wants to take action against Iran. He doesn't care whether Putin or Erdogan fills the power vacuum. Should they fight it out and then the USA should make an alliance with the stronger, insofar as he does not support Iran too openly.However, ther Azerbajianis think beccase of Turkrey`s support as NATO member, they had the support of the West. That is definitely wrong. Trump, Putin and Macron together called for a peace fire in the Caucasus, but Erdogan offensivly and loud rejected this idea and told the three great powerst hey should keep out of the conflicht. This would have been a good opportunity to make a joint action of the USA, France and Russia against Erdogan and send him to oblivion, but it didn´t happen.Russia still believes it could appease Erdogan and Azerbaijian by an Asthana format with Russia, Turkey and Iran as key players in the Cauacsus as they tried to do in Syria and Libya.

It was also interesting to see, that Russia was holding big maneuvres in the Caucasus Kavkaz 2020 with China, Pakistan, Iran, Belarus and other countries together as well as holding joint naval drills with the Iranian navy while NATO had military drills at the same time in the Baltic states and NATO-Turkey was holding drills in Azerbaijan. China now wants to set up military bases in Cambodia and Myanmar, Thailand will soon be importing more weapons from China than from the USA and Vietnam, on the other hand, is well on the way to becoming a US outpost in Asia. It is also interesting that Myanmar is now to the Russian-Chinese -Pakistani-Iranian Caucasus maneuvers 2020, while India will not and will have talks with the Quad and the USA in Delhi in the fall, whether military relations should not even be formalized in the form of an Asian NATO. However these drills have also multifactoral ambitions to diversify its Eurasian relations and also to improve the relations between Russia and Pakistan as also Turkey tries to have better contacts with Pakistan and some observer see this also as a golden opportunity for Pakistan as India didn´t join the drills this time: Shahid Hussain writes in The Diplomat on September 2nd, 2020: "Kavkaz 2020: Why Russia´s Latest Drills Are a Golden Opportunity for Pakistan: Beyond a chance to deepen ties with Russia, Pakistan hopes to build bridges with Central Asian countries through the Kavkaz 2020 exercises"

In Russia, be it Russian President Putin, be it former Soviet Prime minister Primakov and his advisor Dr. Kulikov (Russia-India-China model/RIC), be it Karaganov, be it even Dr. Kortunov (RIAC), or the Russian Orientalists, Eurasianism is quite en vogue and not only by its former avangardist Alexander Dugin. Especially Dr. Kortunov in his article "Heartland Reunion: Geopolitical Chimera or Historical Chance?"revitalized the idea of Mackinder's paradigm, according to which who controls the Eurasian Heartland, controls The World-Island. He sees this formula as very modern. In his opinion, Sino-Indian cooperation beyond the RIC, BRICS and SCO framework would mean the control of the Eurasian Heartland at present and in the future. In his article, the author highlights how such cooperation could work, as well as how, serving as a tandem, China and India could attract both authoritarian states (China) and liberal democratic countries (India). Furthermore, in the article "Pakistan's Role in the Great Eurasian Partnership"from June 2020, Mr. Morozov and Mr. Korybko present Putin's concept of Great Eurasian Partnership (GEP), covering topics such as further cooperation between the BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union, the deepening of the SCO, as well as the incorporation of other Eurasian states like Pakistan.

However, if one looks at the present Sino-Indian border conflict and the rising assertiveness and nationalism on both sides, it is hard to imagine, at least for the foreseeable future, such a harmonious Eurasian Heartland cooperation to exist. Even if Russia tried to mediate for and support India's membership in the permanent UNSC, with China blocking all these efforts, raising doubts about a possible Eurasian world, cooperation remains quite unlikely. And while Russia has also good contacts with India beyond the BRICS and the SCO, it also didn´t like the idea that Modi accepted the invitation to Trump´s anti-Chinese G 11 idea which wanted to split the Euraisansin by the formation of an anti-China bloc including Russian, India, South Korea and Australia. While Putin didn´t react to Trump´s offer, India wants to see what Trump can offer against China and Pakistan and also intensifies the cooperation within the Quad. While the Trump- USA offers India a G 11 participation, it also seems to propose more formal military ties. In his article "US seeks formal alliance similar to Nato with India, Japan and Australia, State Department official say "published 1 Sep, 2020 in the South Chjina Morning Post Robert Delaney writes:

"Washington's goal is to get countries in the Indo-Pacific region to work together as a bulwark against 'a potential challenge from China', says the US official. He says the four nations are expected to meet in Delhi sometime this autumn.

As the world is in a transition period to a more multipolar world and a struggle between the weakened USA and the rising China, strategic balancing becomes the new normal as Indian General Asthana once claimed.

As long as Putin and some transatlanists hope that they could use Erdogan-Turkey against the other side, the Sultan in Istanbul will expand his neo-Ottoman Empire and threatens to draw Russia and the West into a conflict. What could be a solution? Prof. Rahr proposes a Confederation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and. Nagorno-Karabakh however, this like the Astanhan solution sounds not reasonable. Such a Confederation could only be possible if Russia abolishes ist military base in Armenia what Putin doesn´t want. It is also very vague how such a Condferderation Council could be structured in a stable framework and if Azerbaijan would tolerate more autonomy fort he disputed region. Before discussing or even negotiating such farreaching ideas, Putin could use the joint call by Trump, Macron and himself for a ceasefire to come to a united front against Erdogan. First, Putin should demand, that the USA, France will make efforts to stop any Turkish plantst o set up a military base in Azerbaijan, North Syria and Libya as this would only militarise these regions even more and harden the opposing positions. Putin should appeal to Trump and Macron for sanctions within NAO and the EU against Erdogan if he doesn´t stop his neo-Ottoman expansion and warmongering. Putin should use this historic opportunity to get clarification if the West or NATO is further tolerating Edogan´s expansionism. Loud and openly and also at the UNO. This could also be a door-opener for a rapprochement between the West and Russia at a minimum consensus.

After Russia got in contact with the USA and France, it invited Azerbaijian and Armenian diplomats to come to ceasefire and peace talks to Moscow.While commentators in the Western media had doubts that Putin will reach a ceasefire, it happened. Hopefully it remains stable. But beyond the fact that the ceasefire stops the men slaughter in the Caucasus, it also sends the signal that Putin-Russia can cooperate with the WEest and be a responsible stakeholder and also a force of peace.
Energy Ministers highlight' major role of the BRICS countries in the global energy system (Министры энергетики подчеркнули важную роль стран БРИКС в мировой энергетической системе) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting

On 14 October, Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, chaired the 5th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Energy via videoconference.

The Heads of the relevant Line Agencies of the five countries summed up the interim results on the main areas of cooperation in the energy sector: support for the development of national energy systems in the BRICS countries; technological interoperability and facilitating investment in energy; promoting the stability of energy markets and enhancing the role of BRICS in the global energy dialogue.

The Ministers discussed the prospects for the industry's recovery from the consequences of the pandemic; praised the work of the Committee of BRICS Senior Energy Officials and Working Group on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency, and youth energy cooperation. They also noted the effectiveness of the informal consultations format between the BRICS countries on the sidelines of the G20 and World Energy Council.

The Head of the Russian Ministry of Energy noted that the global energy sector has been showing stability lately, and in this context, coordinated actions of the international community, in particular the BRICS countries, are of particular importance.

"Our cooperation is based on the complementary nature of our energy strategies. Undoubtedly, the influence of the BRICS countries on the international arena is increasing due to the growing economic might of the participating states: the BRICS countries currently account for almost a quarter of the world's GDP, and more than a third of world energy consumption and production. In this regard, it is very important to coordinate our countries' positions where we have common interests and to speak on international platforms with a unified position on international energy cooperation," Alexander Novak said.

An important part of the Meeting was the presentation of the first studies of the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform, devoted to the development of the energy sector in the five BRICS countries and technological cooperation. The research done helped not only to present our countries' coordinated energy development priorities to the international community, but also to work out a working mechanism for conducting joint research, to stimulate each country to explore its own development opportunities within BRICS and evaluate prospects for interaction with the other BRICS countries.

"Today we have witnessed a very important event in the history of the energy dialogue between our countries. Experts from the BRICS Energy Cooperation Platform presented their first joint research. In fact, this is the first joint statement of the BRICS countries on our vision of our role, as a group, in the global energy sector," Anton Inyutsyn, Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation said.

The Energy Ministers approved the "Roadmap for BRICS energy cooperation up to 2025", the first comprehensive document that formalized the agreed plans for the development of the energy dialogue of the five countries. The Energy Ministers also adopted a Communiqué, in which, among other things, they reaffirmed their intention to strengthen strategic partnership in energy and energy security, highlighted the important role of all types of energy, including fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The Ministers also reaffirmed that the energy transition needs to be adjusted to national specifics, and each country should be able to determine its optimal policy, instead of using any imposed models that are not suitable for the BRICS countries.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
A Multidisciplinary Perspective of an Association of Five Major Emerging Economies (Междисциплинарная перспектива ассоциации пяти крупнейших стран с формирующейся рыночной экономикой) / Germany, October, 2020
Keywords: quotation, expert_opinion, economic_challenges

The BRICS, an association of five major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has a significant influence on regional affairs and is very active on the global stage. All of them are members of the G20. While the group has received both praise and criticism from different corners of the world, BRICS is steadily working towards realizing its set goals, bilateral relations among them are also conducted on the basis of equality and mutual benefits.

In this exclusive interview for IDN, Dr Byelongo Elisée Isheloke, who is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town and has scholarly researched some aspects of BRICS for the past ten years, spoke with Kester Kenn Klomegah about his latest book titled "BRICS and Economic Development: A Multidisciplinary Perspective" published in India. Here are the interview excerpts:

Q: What are the driving reasons for writing the book on BRICS?

A: Interestingly, BRICS has opened the door to new academic research opportunities. As an academic, I have written four books but this is the first one devoted entirely to BRICS topic. I have also written a few articles on the BRICS aspects. I have researched on BRICS right from its creation. From day one, I believed that BRICS will shape the economic situation of the World and will have an impact on multilateralism.

The book is well received by academics in South Africa. I hope BRICS experts and researchers will continue debating on burning issues in the book. I still believe that while competition with the World Bank and IMF is inevitable, there still is a level of understanding and cooperation that must be upheld for stability and win-win engagements between the two blocs. Peace and stability in the world also depend on that.

My doctorate studies focused on BRICS interventions in the South African mining sector. I have a background in business studies and have embarked on research on industrial and economic issues for years. As an academic, this has become another research area of specialization. It is a force to reckon with. I wrote the book or rather I co-authored it out of passion and conviction. It is also a research product of many contributors or co-authors. I thank them for working with me in this project.

Q: What important key issues are raised or discussed in book?

A: Important key issues raised include: First and foremost, BRICS is still important today but it faces a number of challenges: trade war, border conflicts, corruption, political issues, corona crisis and other socio-economic problems. Secondly, the current BRICS partnership is not sustainable, from its creation, the BRICS has changed in purpose and priorities. It will continue to change...

The third point here is the idea of BRICS Plus, or additional members to join the BRICS. That was a brilliant one. The organization should not be static. It has never been. Some European countries wanted to join but in vain, Africa is represented in the BRICS but South Africa should be supported. It is my opinion. The relationship between Russia and South Africa as a gateway to the rest of the continent is looked at. It is obvious that the people of Africa need more development than it is the case today.

The tigers suggested to join as emerging economies. I submit that the criteria to add countries based on whether they are emerging economies does not hold. Economics fluctuate and emerging economies today may struggle tomorrow. If countries join based on merit or potential contribution, I will suggest African countries to join as observer countries first, then when they are ready they may become effective members. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, has a lot to offer as potential so also have other African countries.

We raised the issue of knowledge economy as a priority, IT, port economics, BRICS banking effectiveness, language policy and many other issues. BRICS needs to coordinate their collective action towards solving the coronavirus crisis with the rest of the world. A "global" solution is needed, that means a global solution with local implications.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are the important players of the emerging markets in the global economy and their innovation profiles matter for the economic growth of individual countries and the bloc. The purpose of this book is to critically analyze and compare the international rankings in innovation outputs in terms of knowledge and technology outputs among the BRICS countries, in relation, to their economic growth in the last two years.

Using a variety of research conducted separately, this e-book discusses matters of economic substance from African perspective. It identifies the negative scores of the BRICS as a partnership as it is faced with death and seeks to understand its rebirth, restructuring or re-engineering in the aftermath. The study further assesses the strengths of BRICS and advices how to capitalize on these for a steady economic growth going forward. It looks at economic issues affecting the BRICS or its member countries with focus on South Africa.

The issue of language policy in the partneship was not forgotten and possible solutions to language planning issues are proposed. On this aspect, the people of the BRICS member countries should be consulted. The book call for a bottom-up approach in conjunction to the top-down approach that was promoted from the BRICS inception.

Q: What critical challenges do you think still remain and what measures needed in order to realize fully the goals set by BRICS?

A: The BRICS must be open to others, better coordinate, better synergize their actions, democratize their institutions, to promote mineral beneficiation and foreign direct investment. More peace building efforts and do more in creating digital economy. In addition, there will be areas where BRICS will compete, and this is healthy to any economy, but there must be more focus on what BRICS can do together to address abject poverty, growing unemployment and human rights abuses.

It is significant to note that there exist disparity and different strategic orientations of BRICS members. This disparity sometimes influence implementation of decisions arrived at meetings. The book recommends to member countries to streamline individual economic situation in order to strengthen their cooperation. It further encourages frequent interactions and exchange knowledge that is relevant to innovation and economic development. These are just part of the challenges and opportunities for this organization.

Q: What's your assessment of BRICS contribution, particularly, to South Africa?

A: Starting as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) the partnership incorporated South Africa in 2010 to form the BRICS. As a partnership, first as a political initiative it takes relatively long to transform into a robust and ambitious economic challenger of the current world order. It takes time to evolve into an economic power bloc. There has been a tremendous achievement in this regard. Although some similarities in development exist, India portrays a slightly high prospect in innovation because of its information communication technology success, followed by Brazil and South Africa.

It is important to point that the size of the population is relevant to the level of development of these countries. In certain circumstances, demographics add to the challenges member countries face, especially in time of Covid-19. One of the key factors is innovation strength in their system of higher education. South Africa needs the utilization of efficient local and global knowledge network in order to deliver the required innovation, and to sustain businesses and to boost economic development.

The major problem of South Africa is that it is not robust economically compared to its BRICS counterparts, and its economy has been performing badly since the 2008/2009 world's economic crisis. This is why South Africa must be supported by other African countries in the context of BRICS. This is why the idea of an Africa-friendly BRICS Plus is campaigned for. BRICS have to deliver on capital-intensive infrastructure development, and the funding from the New Development Bank (BRICS) is critical in this regard.

With good policies in place, this will help the SADC region and the rest of Africa. It is great that the branch of this bank operates from Johannesburg in South Africa. This is an opportunity for major infrastructure projects to take place in Africa. All the sectors need to come together to solve problems like the Covid-19 pandemic that we are facing today. All the stakeholders, of course, have to work closely together. They need to cooperate with Europe, America and Australasia. The fact is that no one must be left behind.

Q: In all these, can you assess the role of BRICS in Africa's development?

A: BRICS has helped during the coronavirus crisis, in Africa. Now it needs to support FDI even more. Now it needs to support democracy and peace building in Africa. Now it needs to prioritize exchange programs, education, trade and other viable areas of cooperation. I still hold to the fact that BRICS have to make collective efforts in coordinating with the rest of the world in addressing the coronavirus crisis. Supporting African countries in debt relief efforts would help. A paradigm shift or change in that directions would mean Africa will have more liquidity to inject in economic development.


Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to questions at the presentation of the Valdai International Discussion Club analytical report "History, To Be Continued: The Utopia of a Diverse World," Moscow, October 13, 2020 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова на презентации аналитического доклада «Утопия многообразного мира: как продолжается история» Международного дискуссионного клуба «Валдай», Москва, 13 октября 2020 года) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, social_issues

Question: If institutions are giving way to multilateral cooperation, what should we do about the so-called near-abroad? How can we resolve problems, especially since their number is growing?

Sergey Lavrov: It is probably correct to monitor the current trend where, although we do need the multilateral organisations, despite the fact that they are facing a crisis (I have mentioned the attempts to undermine them or to replace their universal framework with some "rules" created outside the UN Charter and its very system), they should of course be complemented with more flexible forms of interaction, without a rigid structure or conventional documents. A relevant example is the G20. It is a network structure that is becoming institutionalised without losing flexibility. It does not have any written or ratified rules, but it reflects our views on the development of a multipolar world, which we are discussing now. The G20 has risen to the summit from the level of quite informal contacts maintained among finance ministers before 2010. It was decided to hold annual G20 summits after the 2008 crisis.

The fact that the G20 has been brought to the summit level is proof that from now on the G7 will not be in a position to deal with global economic matters. It is the economy and finance that were proposed as the main goals of the G20 summits since the G20 incorporates the G7, the BRICS countries and the apparently like-minded members of the BRICS Five – Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Argentina. In other words, the G20 is an almost open recognition of the multipolar world and the inability of the West in the broad meaning of the word, which includes Japan, to deal with global economic and financial problems unassisted.

At the same time, we should think about reforming the existing institutions. In this sense, the UN is an organisation that needs a regular upgrade. But this process must be gradual, consistent, coordinated and based on consensus, without any abrupt movements that could undermine the UN's ability to function. Much attention is being given now to the deadlocked reform of the UN Security Council and the conflicting ambitions of states that have risen to new heights in the global economy and politics. When the UN was established, some of them were colonies, like India, while the People's Republic of China did not even exist, even though the victorious nations recognised China as one of the winners in World War II, in which over 35 million Chinese lost their lives.

The situation has changed since then, and more countries are claiming a permanent seat on the UNSC. Discussions on this are underway. We believe that first of all we must correct the grossly unfair state of affairs: at least five, but often six and always more than one third of the 15 UNSC members represent Europe, whereas the developing countries are seriously underrepresented. Therefore, our position during debates on increasing the number of permanent UNSC members is that the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and definitely Africa deserve to be included. This would correct the injustice.

Since this subject is highly controversial at the UN, the countries that have recently held the chairmanship of the G20 proposed holding annual meetings of foreign ministers, who have never met in this format since the G20 summit meetings were first held. This can be interpreted as a desire to make up for the lack of progress in coordinating the new format of the UNSC by discussing many key topics within the G20 framework. When it comes to the economic and financial agenda, the G20 decisions are not binding unless approved by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Likewise, the G20 cannot take decisions that are the purview of the UN Security Council and General Assembly. But the G20 is a good platform for finding ways to align different approaches in a broad-based manner free from red tape. Another relevant example is BRICS. I believe that many more such target-oriented alliances will be established in the future.

Take the Astana format set up to coordinate a Syrian settlement. It is clearly a one-off format created to deal with a particular problem. Turkey, Iran and Russia had not created similar formats before. Russia has wonderful relations with Iran and solid ties with Turkey, but the Astana trio is a one-off group brought together to address a specific case. One more format of this kind is the OSCE Minsk Group, where the burden of decisions, even though the group is based at the OSCE, is carried by the co-chairs – Russia, the United States and France. They have been acting in a fairly well-coordinated manner, but it is nevertheless a one-off format.

World of Work
Academic Forum experts to offer advice on BRICS development (Эксперты Академического форума дадут советы по развитию БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: think_tank_council, sustainable_development

On 22-24 October, the 12th BRICS Academic Forum will take place under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020. The Forum is organized by the National Committee on BRICS Research.

The main objective of the Forum is to expand contacts between academic and scientific centres as well as research and higher education institutions of the five BRICS countries and strengthen the dialogue between their governments and the academic community.

The event will be attended by over 200 delegates from Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, including leading experts representing national coordination expert centres, as well as research, educational and public organizations. Their discussions will involve relevant ministries and line agencies, as well as businesses and media.

Leading representatives of academic and expert community will prepare recommendations on the long-term development of BRICS prior to the BRICS Summit scheduled for 17 November.

The Forum agenda includes most topical development issues of BRICS, such as stability and security, economic growth, facilitating investment cooperation, digitalization, sustainable development, energy, infrastructure, food and environmental security, education and healthcare.

The annual Meeting of the BRICS Think Tank Council will take place on the eve of the Academic Forum, on 22 October.

BRICS experts to discuss economic development amid COVID-19 pandemic (Эксперты БРИКС обсудят экономическое развитие в условиях пандемии COVID-19) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion, cooperation

On 20-28 October, the BRICS Business Forum under the theme "BRICS Business Partnership: Common Vision for Sustainable Inclusive Development" will be held via videoconference.

The Forum is the main annual event held by the BRICS Business Council, which is aimed at in trade, business, investment and industrial ties between the five countries.

This year the participants will have four days to share their experience of overcoming the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss the further development of cooperation in many fields, including economy, digital technologies, agriculture, healthcare, energy, environment and women entrepreneurship.

The Forum will conclude with a plenary session, wich will see the presence of the Heads of National Chapters of the BRICS Business Council and the New Development Bank, as well as representatives of the Russian authorities.

More information is available on

BRICS Solutions Awards international contest to choose best ways to improve quality of life and living standards in BRICS countries (Международный конкурс BRICS Solutions Awards выберет лучшие способы повышения качества жизни и уровня жизни в странах БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, sustainable_development

The Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Roscongress Foundation are conducting a BRICS Solutions Awards contest of best solutions and practices in a wide range of spheres. The 2020 contest will be held under the auspices of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship and supported by the BRICS Business Council.

The goal is to choose the best ideas and socioeconomic practices aimed at improving the quality of life and living standards and to subsequently implement them in the BRICS countries. The projects submitted to the BRICS Solution Awards will be accumulated in an open-access databank of best practices and solutions in various spheres of socioeconomic development and their implementation to be given broad international information support.

In light of the importance of combating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming its negative consequences, the 2020 programme of the contest includes 7 categories:

  • Public health and healthy living;
  • Quality of life and demography;
  • Innovations and technology;
  • Green economy;
  • Business solutions;
  • Housing and urban development;
  • Education.
"The BRICS group is seen, with good reason, as a global center of the future scientific and technological development. Launching a project of this kind in the current difficult circumstances is a proof of the BRICS countries' openness to broad international partnership in the vital sphere of finding effective joint answers to modern challenges," noted Anton Kobyakov, Executive Secretary of the organising committee for preparing and providing for Russia's SCO Chairmanship in 2019-2020 and BRICS Chairmanship in 2020.

"The Agency for Strategic Initiatives has considerable experience in organizing best practices contests in Russia, which are an effective instrument for sharing experience, including between Russian regions," Svetlana Chupsheva, ASI General Director, pointed out. "Holding this contest within the BRICS framework will launch an official and yet informal exchange of promising ideas among our countries. The contest will become a simple and straightforward mechanism for promoting best practices in the BRICS countries, which all of the group's countries need because they will face increasingly more complicated challenges."

Sergei Katyrin, President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he shared the view on the importance and relevance of the project: "This initiative can become a regular form of international cooperation and a way for the BRICS countries to show the world that they are open for partnership and ready to look for effective solutions to common challenges, which is especially relevant in light of the new global challenges."

The BRICS Solutions Awards contest is to be launched at a news conference scheduled for 14 October 2020, at 2 pm in the TASS News Agency.

An international jury will choose three finalists and one winner in each category.

More information and the terms of the contest are available on its official website

BRICS experts discuss topical issues of IT industry development and advanced developments in the field of digital technologies (Эксперты БРИКС обсуждают актуальные вопросы развития ИТ-индустрии и передовые разработки в области цифровых технологий) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: digital, innovations, expert_opinion

On 8-9 October, Nizhny Novgorod's Lobachevsky State University hosted the 4th Meeting of the BRICS Working Group on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and High- Performance Computing via videoconference.

The event that brought together heads of IT laboratories and leading ICT experts from the BRICS countries included eight thematic sessions, during which topical issues of the development of the IT industry and advanced developments of countries in the field of digital technologies were discussed.

Andrei Sanosyan, Deputy Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region, noted the high potential for the region's development in the context of digital technologies: "Nizhny Novgorod Region is one of the leaders in the development of IT industry in Russia with a record number of IT specialists per capita. More than 1,000 IT companies operate in our region and more than 32,000 highly qualified specialists work in our region."

He stressed that, along with the Nizhny Novgorod Region, such cities of the BRICS countries as Beijing, Shenzhen, Bangalore, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg are actively developing in this field. "We have a huge scientific and technical potential in our hands, which is extremely important to develop. Therefore, we need to strengthen our cooperation with each other," said Andrei Sanosyan.

Olga Guseva, Head of the Foreign Relations Department, spoke about the current state of the region's partnership with the BRICS countries, stressing that this area is one of the priorities in the international activities of the Nizhny Novgorod Region.

"The BRICS countries are among the key trade partners of our region: the total turnover with these countries at the end of 2019 exceeded $1.2 billion. We plan to increase the intensity of bilateral cooperation with the BRICS countries in the field of industry and trade, education, as well as in the development of information technologies," Olga Guseva said.

BRICS Commitment to Jobs, Social Protection & Social Dialogue Welcomed by ILO (Приверженность БРИКС обеспечению рабочих мест, социальной защиты и социального диалога приветствуется МОТ) / Greece, October, 2020
Keywords: social_issues

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has welcomed the commitment made by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS countries) to take more action to support labour markets in meeting the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 .

In remarks to the sixth BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting (LEMM), Ryder also praised the employment and social protection measures already implemented by these five major economies, noting that 121 new social protection measures had been introduced between March and August 2020 as part of the BRICS crisis response.

"Sustaining jobs, enterprises and income support measures at the necessary scale when resources are likely to become increasingly constrained will be a challenge," Ryder told the ministers. "But avoiding reversing all the progress that has been made in reducing poverty, and ensuring no one is left behind, will require our continuing efforts…. It will also require higher levels of international cooperation and solidarity".

In a Declaration issued at the end of the Meeting, the Ministers made a wide range of commitments intended to support enterprises, stable and inclusive labour markets, and human-centred development.

These included promoting a preventive safety and health at work culture, in particular for high-risk and vulnerable groups such as women, youth and older workers. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to eradicate violence and harassment at work, to foster women's empowerment and increase their employment opportunities, and to invest in the care economy.

The Ministers' Declaration says they will further strengthen their social protection systems, taking into account the ILO's social protection floor recommendation (R202) , and progressively ensure universal access to comprehensive, adequate, social protection.

More will be done to digitally equip and upgrade national public employment services, labour inspectorates and social protection institutions to leverage transformative technology for decent work, and to promote the transition of workers and enterprises from the informal to the formal economy.

The Declaration also recognized the central role of social dialogue, and the necessity of strengthening it to advance decent work. The social partners of the five countries – workers' and employers' organizations participated in the meeting, something welcomed by the Director-General. "Social dialogue enables us effectively to reconcile competing interests and to build trust and ownership of response measures. Its importance cannot be emphasized too strongly," he said.

The Director-General made two interventions in the LEMM; remarks during the opening session and a presentation on the Future of Work in a Digital Economy.

The LEMM was hosted by Russia but held virtually on Friday 9 October.

BRICS School concludes in Moscow (В Москве завершилась Школа БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: social_issues

On 5‒10 October 2020, the 4th International Research and Educational Programme "BRICS School" and the BRICS Young Scientists (BRICSologists) contest under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship took place in Moscow.

The programme is organized annually by the National Committee on BRICS Research with the support of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

80 young leaders, aged between 18 and 35, took part in the BRICS School, including scientists, researchers, undergraduate and postgraduate students, aspiring diplomats, public activists, entrepreneurs and journalists from Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and other countries. BRICS School alumni from the previous years, who built a community of young leaders and continue to be largely involved in developing the youth agenda of the BRICS countries, were also among the participants.

This year, BRICS School participants had a unique opportunity to attend a comprehensive course of lectures specifically developed by leading Russian and foreign BRICS experts, as well as to take part in discussions and workshops, seminars, expand their professional knowledge, develop communication skills, explore the specifics of cooperation between the BRICS states, their place on the international arena, future goals and objectives of the five.

Leading Russian and foreign experts, representatives of public and private organizations, relevant ministries and line agencies, representatives of the business community, research institutes and universities with significant experience in the BRICS agenda took up the roles of BRICS School lecturers and mentors.

The BRICS School programme was divided into subject-specific modules developed by partner organizations such as Russian Council for International Affairs, Agency for Strategic Initiatives, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Far Eastern Federal University, Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, Institute for Applied Economic Research (Brazil), Observer Research Foundation (India), China Council for the BRICS Think Tank Cooperation (China) and South African Centre for BRICS Research (South Africa).

Presentation by BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform (Презентация Платформы сотрудничества в области энергетических исследований БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: cooperation

On 15 October 2020, the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform will present the first joint reports – the presentation will be one of the major events of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in the field of energy.

Based on national statistics and forecasts, leading BRICS experts have prepared the "BRICS Energy Report", a review of the energy sectors in the five countries, and the "BRICS Energy Technology Report", which focuses on the priorities of technological development of the fuel and energy sectors in BRICS.

Anton Inyutsyn, Russian Deputy Minister of Energy, will chair the meeting, which will see the participation of leading experts, representatives of major research institutes and energy companies from the BRICS countries as well as international energy organizations, such as OPEC, GECF, the World Energy Forum, the Clean Energy Ministerial and the World Energy Council. The presentation will be followed by a discussion.

The expert community is welcome to watch the streaming of the presentation of the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform on YouTube at 2 pm Moscow time.

Link to the live stream in Russian.

Link to the live stream in English.

Experts discuss Concept of functioning and development, as well as Roadmap for BRICS Network University (Эксперты обсуждают Концепцию функционирования и развития, а также план развития Сетевого университета БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, social_issues

On 14 October, the International Governing Board of the BRICS Network University held a meeting via videoconference under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship.

The Board is the principal integral body, formed by representatives of the relevant Line agencies and associated universities (56 leading universities from the BRICS countries, selected as per national law, including 12 from Russia).

Igor Ganshin, Head of the Russian delegation, Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, said that students found themselves in a new learning environment, showing that it is time for the BRICS countries to work together to find the best ways to ensure continuous learning and quality education. He went on to say that in order to do so, they needed to rely on the existing practices and educational cooperation frameworks like the BRICS Network University.

Cooperation within the Network University is designed to create a new generation of qualified and motivated specialists with critical thinking skills, who can think outside-the-box and come up with unconventional ways of addressing social and economic issues, and who feel at ease in the current international political environment, and can combine fundamental knowledge with the latest technologies and scientific advances.

Participants reviewed the Concept of functioning and development of the BRICS Network University, as well as Roadmap of the BRICS Network University for the short and medium terms. These documents set the agenda and outline specific steps regarding future cooperation within the Network University.

The Concept sets forth the main goals and areas of work, as well as stages in the Network University's development, which include a preparatory stage (2015-2020), the formation stage (2020-2022), the approbation and implementation stage (2023-2025) and the stage at which the institution will become fully operational (beginning in 2026). The Concept provides for establishing a Board of Trustees, as well as designating a Coordinator University for better efficiency and coordination. The Coordinator is expected to provide administrative, information and analytical support to the Network University, and oversee its day-to-day affairs and document flow in between the board sessions.

The Roadmap covers three main spheres: approving documents for developing the Network University and creating the necessary working bodies; supporting research and teaching, including developing mechanisms for carrying out joint programmes in remote formats; and a calendar of events for students and faculty: conferences, meetings, festivals, etc.

Russia initiated the creation of the Network University at the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education in November 2013, held under the auspices of UNESCO in Paris.The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Establishment of the BRICS Network University was signed on 18 October 2015 in Moscow.

The MoU sets out the following priorities for the Network University: BRICS Studies, Economics, Ecology and Climate Change, Computer Science and Information Security, Water Resources and Pollution Removal, and Energy.

Anton Inyutsyn: The first joint report of the BRICS Energy Platform presents our vision of the group's role on the global energy stage (Антон Инюцын: В первом совместном отчете Энергетической платформы БРИКС представлено наше видение роли группы на мировой энергетической арене) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation

On 15 October, Anton Inyutsyn, Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, chaired a presentation of the first analytical reports prepared within the framework of the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform.

"The agenda of the 5th Meeting of BRICS Energy Ministers included the presentation of the "BRICS Energy Report" and the "BRICS Energy Technology Report". The reports have been approved by the Heads of the delegation and will now be available to the general public. The reports are the result of our five countries' cooperative efforts," Anton Inyutsyn noted.

Following the presentation, the participants discussed the outcomes presented in the reports, global trends that affect the energy systems of the five countries, the role of the BRICS countries in the global energy sector and the BRICS countries' potential impact on the long-term development of energy markets, as well as the outlook for their technological cooperation.

The discussion saw the participation of the representatives of research institutions and major energy companies from the BRICS countries, including V.S. Nandkumar, Director General of the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI, India); Zhen Wang, Deputy Director General of Policy Research Office, CNPC (China); Oleg Zhdaneyev, Head of the Competence Centre of Technology Development of the Fuel and Energy Complex of the Russian Ministry of Energy; Vyacheslav Kulagin, Department Head of the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Tatyana Mitrova, Director of the SKOLKOVO Energy Centre (Russia) and other representatives of the BRICS countries.

The reports drew the interest of international organizations, which were represented at the discussion by Secretary General of the International Energy Forum (IEF) Joseph McMonigle, Head of the Energy Studies Department at OPEC Abderrezak Benyoucef and Senior Energy Analyst at the GECF Hussein Moghaddam.

Anton Inyutsyn pointed out that the BRICS Energy Report was the first comprehensive document on the current state of the five countries' energy systems and their strategic development vision. An important feature of the report is that it is based entirely on the group's own statistical data and internal forecast estimates.

According to the report, the BRICS countries' role on the global energy market will continue to grow. By 2040, they will account for 41 percent of global energy consumption and production. Fossil fuels will dominate the BRICS countries' energy balance in the next 20 years and will supply over 70 percent of energy consumed in the five countries. The group plans to increase its focus on low emission energy systems based on natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy resources (RES). The share of natural gas in their energy balance will increase by 6 percent, nuclear energy by 4 percent and RES by 8 percent.

Over 60 companies and organisations from the five countries contributed to the BRICS Energy Technology Report. According to its conclusions, digital and clean energy technologies hold the greatest commercial promise. In all, the report covers over 90 technologies which the BRICS countries regard as the most promising when it comes to joint projects.

"We hope that the results of these studies will be applied in practice, benefitting not only BRICS but also other countries, international organisations and the world's largest energy companies," the Russian Deputy Energy Minister concluded.

South African crowned BRICS young innovator (В ЮАР наградили молодого новатора из БРИКС) / South Africa, October, 2020
Keywords: innovations, social_issues
South Africa

South African innovator Gift Lubele has scooped the top prize at this year's BRICS Young Innovator Prize competition, walking away with $25 000 in prize money.

The BRICS Young Innovator Prize, which forms part of the BRICS Young Scientists Forum, recognises and rewards quality research and innovation, including the use of artificial intelligence, in environmental protection and materials science.

Held under the theme "BRICS partnership of young scientists and innovators for science progress and innovative growth", this year's event took place virtually because of the coronavirus.

The competition saw 20 competitors, four from each BRICS country, vying for the top prize, with Lubele taking the first prize for his waste management digital platform, Kudoti.

Kudoti, which is Zulu for 'in the trash', was founded with the aim to help waste management and recycling companies optimise their operations through the use of data collection tools.

Lubele describes Kudoti as the "Uber for waste recycling", noting that waste companies of all sizes can improve their operations by using the cloud-based platform, which digitises and automates waste management operations from start to finish through SMS interactions and Web-based interfaces.

"Our digital platform provides an end-to-end solution, replacing manual and paper-based work with a simple-to-use, effective digital solution," he says.

The platform also helps companies to improve their client management by enabling them to keep track of and communicate directly with clients.

Describing his journey, the young innovator says he had the opportunity to speak to informal waste workers, including a woman who was putting her two children through school by collecting recyclable waste, and grew to appreciate the value they were providing to society.

"This sparked an interest in learning more about the waste industry and the opportunity that it represented for development. Through extensive research, I realised that technology could significantly improve how waste is managed, and saw that it was underutilised in the waste industry. From there on, I began my journey with Kudoti, to find value in waste recycling through technology."

One of Kudoti's clients is Distell, a global business with South African roots, which produces and markets a diverse portfolio of alcoholic brands.

Kudoti is also currently engaging with a number of companies and organisations in other African nations to better understand the challenges facing companies on the continent, and how technology can help.

One of these is a plastic recycling centre in Uganda, a project of the Global Livingston Institute, which has recycled over 75 000kg of plastic since 2018.

Kudoti is also looking to expand its offering to enable users to make recyclable waste transactions, and to grow this into a marketplace for recyclable materials.

"Our goal is to create technology tools that empower companies, individuals and governments to better manage waste and recycle more, utilising the capacities that are in place for waste collection and recycling," states Lubele.

In March 2020, Fast Company South Africa named Kudoti one of the 25 Most Innovative Companies in the country. In 2019, Lubele was listed as one of Fast Company SA's top 20 entrepreneurs under the age of 30. He has also won recognition from the United Nations and the president of Mauritius.

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