Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 26.2021
2021.06.27 — 2021.07.04
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Fifth meeting of BRICS ANTI-Drug Working Group was held (Состоялось пятое заседание антинаркотической рабочей группы БРИКС) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues

The fifth meeting of the ANTI-Drug Working Group of the BRICS, attended by representatives of the Russian MIA, was held in the format of a video conference.
The heads of the relevant units of the competent authorities of the five countries of the BRICS discussed the drug situation in their countries, analyzed international and regional trends in the field of trafficking in drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. Special attention was paid to the problem of drug trafficking using the Internet, measures were developed to counter the illegal financial flows associated with those crimes. There took place as well an exchange of best practices in countering the spread of drugs by sea and air transport.
The experts supported the continuation of cooperation in the above areas and expressed their commitment to the principles of the three basic UN anti-drug conventions.
A joint statement was adopted following the meeting.
Coordination between Russia, China plays stabilizing role in global affairs — Putin (Координация между Россией и Китаем играет стабилизирующую роль в мировых делах - Путин) / Russia, June, 2021
Keywords: vladimir_putin, quotation

The Russian President noted that, in the past 20 years, the two countries had significantly increased their interaction on foreign policy - one of the key components of the strategic partnership

MOSCOW, June 28. /TASS/. The coordination between Russia and China plays a stabilizing role in global affairs amid the growing political turbulence and increasing conflict potential, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a video conference with Chinese leader Xi Jinping Monday.

The Russian leader noted that, in the past 20 years, the two countries had significantly increased their interaction on foreign policy - one of the key components of the strategic partnership.

"Amid the increasing geopolitical turbulence, the breakdown of arms control agreements, and the increasing conflict potential in various corners of the world, the Russian-Chinese coordination plays a stabilizing role in the global affairs," Putin underscored.

He explained that he was referring to such pressing issues of the international agenda as settlement on the Korean Peninsula, in Syria, in Afghanistan, and the restoration of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

The Russian President also mentioned other aspects of bilateral cooperation.

"We work actively on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization platform, which, by the way, also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. We facilitate the establishment of the polycentric world order from the BRICS position," he listed.

Expansion of cooperation

Putin noted that a joint statement of the leaders of Russia and China was prepared for the anniversary of the Treaty on Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. This statement "reflects the unique role of this instrument in the establishment of the modern model of the Russian-Chinese relations and their importance for the establishment of a fairer international order," the Russian leader said, adding that the statement also stipulates that the Treaty will be automatically extended for five years in 2022.

"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you […] with another important date - the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of China," Putin added. "China meets this anniversary with new achievements, both in the social and economic development of the country, and on the international arena".

Belt and Road Initiative moves forward despite pandemic — China's foreign minister

Putin noted that, in the past, the Soviet Union "actively supported the Chinese communists in their revolutionary struggle," provided significant aid in developing the state during the early years of the new China. Russia preserves the memory about the glorious pages of the common history, he underscored.

"A museum was created in Moscow, dedicated to the VI Congress of the CPC, which took place here in 1928. Under the request of our Chinese colleagues, our archive agency prepared a selection of material, connected to the period of emergency of the communist movement in China," Putin said.

Ties between the parties are an important part of the entire complex of bilateral relations, the Russian President believes. "I expect that the further development of the dialogue with the CPC would facilitate an even deeper strengthening of cooperation, mutual understanding and trust between our countries," he concluded.
BRICS Could Be the World's Economic Beacon (БРИКС может стать мировым экономическим маяком) / Jordan, June, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – could recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and its induced recession more quickly if India and Brazil work with China instead of fight it. In doing so, the BRICS could pull the world economy on an upward trajectory for a number of reasons.

One, the five countries'' economies are highly complementary. For example, Brazil, Russia and to some extent South Africa and India could guarantee the natural resources China needs to sustain its manufacturing prowess. China, for its part, has the capital, know-how and technology to invest in its fellow members'' infrastructures and help their industrialization, taking them to the next stages of development.

Two, being major developing nations, the BRICS have considerable room for expanding the size and scope of their economies.

Three, the BRICS'' combined GDP is already large, at US$45 trillion in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms and is expected to surpass the Group of Seven's $44 trillion in 2021.

What's more, the World Bank and other organizations are predicting that the average BRICS annualized growth rate for 2021 and beyond is estimated at more than 5%, compared with the G7's less than 4%. So the BRICS have a solid foundation for sustaining long-term economic growth and stability.

Missed opportunities

It could be argued that it was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's playing the anti-China card that was largely responsible for those two countries'' pandemic crisis and economic malaise. For example, they refused to accept Chinese vaccines and medical help to control the pandemic's surge.

Unfortunately, the bad news did not end there, the efforts to rein in the pandemic culminated in contracting the economy of India by 8% and of Brazil by 4% in 2020.

It is too bad that Modi and Bolsonaro placed their own interests over those of their people. In the quest for votes, the two leaders in fact squandered the opportunities to control the pandemic and reverse the economic downturns. Along with their fellow BRICS members, Brazil and India do have what it takes not only to recover from the pandemic, but to be the world's economic lighthouse.

Brazil, Russia and South Africa (to a lesser extent) are richly endowed with oil, gas, iron ore and other natural resources China requires to sustain its manufacturing prowess. As the most populous of the five nations, China and India are also blessed with an abundance of human capital. With the right policies and cooperative relations, the BRICS could realize huge economic, geopolitical and social gains.

Liberalized investment and trade agreements, for example, could expedite and promote efficient flow of goods and financial services among the five countries. Russia and Brazil could provide China and India with as many natural resources and agricultural products as the latter two countries need or want. With a combined market of nearly 3 billion people, China and India could guarantee the prosperities of the food production sectors of Brazil and India.

China has the capital, expertise and technological know-how to help build the other four countries'' infrastructures and industrialization. According to the IIGF Green BRI Center, China invested more than $17 billion in 140 countries across the globe in January of 2021 alone, accumulating to a total of more than $4 trillion since 2013.

The Belt and Road investments have jumpstarted the development of many underdeveloped economies in Africa and other regions across the globe. According to the Nigerian government, Chinese investment in railroad construction, mining and industries created industrial vertical integration in the country, creating new industries and employment opportunities, taking the country to a higher and wealthier level of development.

In terms of human capital, India's large and relatively young population (26.6% between 0 and 14 and 67% in the 15-to-64 age groups) could afford it a demographic dividend. With sufficient investment in education and training, India could acquire a skilled labor pool to attract domestic and foreign investments.

Although China's population is aging, the demographic issue is being addressed with increasing investment in education, raising the retirement age and allowing couples to have three children.

It was China's huge investment in education that enabled it to produce millions of university graduates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. This helped China leapfrog technological advancement or innovation, replacing workers with robots, thus addressing the labor shortage.

Raising the retirement age from the present 55 years of age for women and 60 for men to 65 or older could enhance productivity because of their experiences. China could do that because its population is getting healthier and living longer. Added benefits of raising the retirement age would be increased household income and reducing the government's (and families'') financial burden of looking after retirees.

The recent change in allowing couples to have three children would prevent the economy from falling into the ''middle income trap'' of getting old before getting rich. Though many couples may not want more than one baby because of the high cost of raising children and lifestyle preferences, many others do. In this respect, there could be a marginal increase in population size.

Last but not least, BRICS'' large population, estimated at about 40% of the world total, generates enormous economies of scale, thus improving competitiveness. Add the billions more people in the other 140 BRI participating countries, the BRICS economies could sustain stable growth even without input from the West and Japan.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce, accumulated two-way trade between China and the BRI participating countries exceeded $9 trillion in 2020. That number would likely grow because more countries and organizations are showing interest in joining the BRI.

On the military front BRICS is a ''near power'' to the US and its allies, with China and India possessing thousands of nuclear weapons and constantly developing and producing more advanced and lethal weapons.

Technologically, the BRICS is not that far behind the G7 because China, Russia and India are technology powers. China might in fact have surpassed the G7 in artificial intelligence, fifth-generation telephony, and quantum computing, just to name a few of its achievements. India produces some of the best and brightest tech minds in the world. And there is no question that Russia is equal to any G7 nation in terms of military and space technologies.

So yes, BRICS has the wherewithal to recover from the pandemic and economic woes and to become a beacon for the global economy.

G7 countries are ''has been'' powers

On the other hand, the G7 – the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, France, Canada and Italy – is a ''has been'' millionaires'' club whose members refuse to believe they are broke. In attempting to recover from the Covid-induced recession, the economies simply printed money or increased the national debt.

However, increasing the money supply and national debt leads to inflation and dampens fiscal and monetary policy effectiveness in the G7 countries.

Printing too much money, too, will dilute the value and importance of the greenback, putting America's and the global financial systems at risk. This will not only destabilize the US and global financial systems, but also cause currency and trade wars.

Lack of financial or economic muscle is the major reason the G7 annual summits have remained little more than photo ops, its leaders singing the same old song and making empty promises.

Created in 1975 to address the world's economic woes, the club has held annual summits on how to address issues such as oil crises and promising to help developing nations deal with their economic woes. Guess what: The developing nations are still waiting and global economic issues remain problematic.

The 2021 pledge of establishing an alternative to China's BRI to build infrastructure in poor or developing nations, too, will likely be all talk. The G7 countries, the US in particular, are struggling if not failing to reverse rising poverty and rebuilding crumbling infrastructure at home for lack of funds. So where are the trillions of dollars that the G7 promised to spend on the ''build back better for the world'' (B3W) proposal?

The world can be forgiven for being skeptical about the promises made by the US and its allies. For example, even former secretary of state Mike Pompeo's modest proposal of creating a $113 million fund to counter the BRI was an empty promise. The same fate happened to later proposals.

Furthermore, the business communities in the G7 are not on the same page as their governments with respect to China. Instead of heeding government directives to reduce dependence on, if not decouple entirely from, China, they actually increased investments there.

Recruiting new members

Lack of financial and economic muscles and determination to contain China might be the reason the G7 invited India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa to the 2021 meeting in the UK, hoping to turn it into a G11.

Adding South Korea to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue would strengthen its geopolitical position to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region. The G7 probably hopes that plying South Africa away from China would erode the latter's influence in the African continent.

However, the G7 may have a problem recruiting those four countries into the alliance, particularly when it is intended to counter China.

South Africa is not only a member of BRICS, but also relies heavily on China for investment and trade. South Korea is crossing its fingers that the US will not pressure it into joining the G7 for security as well as economic reasons. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare how badly India needs Chinese investment, trade and health-care equipment. Australia has shown signs that it wants to improve trade relations with China.

Furthermore, joining the G7 to counter China would not only risk the invitees'' economic interests, but could worsen their security positions.

As the 19th-century British statesman Lord Palmerston observed, countries have no permanent friends or foes, only national interests. Joining the G7 is definitely not in the invitees'' national interests.

Against this backdrop, there is no better time for Modi and Bolsonaro to rethink their China policies. Ongoing BRICS meetings present a golden opportunity for the leaders of the club to talk cooperation, instituting trade, investment, health, security and technology agreements to achieve their nations'' economic and geopolitical potentials.

Ken Moak taught economic theory, public policy and globalization at university level for 33 years. He co-authored a book titled China's Economic Rise and Its Global Impact in 2015. His second book, Developed Nations and the Economic Impact of Globalization, was published by Palgrave McMillan Springer.

Asia Times

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of InfoBRICS.
Strong Russia-China Relations are Good for South Africa and BRICS (Крепкие российско-китайские отношения полезны для ЮАР и БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion
South Africa

The antagonistic US foreign policy stance towards both Russia and China has led in recent times to closer cooperation between Moscow and Beijing in a spirit of "besieged mentality" created unwittingly by Washington.

From the Obama administration through to Trump, and now under the Biden administration, relations between the US-led Western powers on the one hand and Russia and China on the other have remained more lukewarm than blossoming. But the reasons are not hard to fathom: Washington's notion of being the world's only remaining superpower since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in 1991 appears to mistakenly create the impression that the US is omnipotent.

It fails to take into cognisance the rapidly globalizing world which has fostered inter-connectedness and inter-dependence among nations, obliterating the age-old principle of Westphalian borders.

The US national politics could also be blamed for misguiding the country's foreign policy formulation. Being anti-Russian in the US has come to be accepted as an element of "political correctness". As a result, the US has in recent history seen a proliferation of anti-Russian sentiments and unfounded allegations of wrong-doing against Moscow peddled in the free-for-all public commentary. An interviewer recently dragged President Joe Biden into saying that the Russian president Vladimir Putin "is a killer" in the weeks leading up to the Biden-Putin Summit in Switzerland. President Biden later refused to repeat the claim in spite of mischievous attempts to do so in order to draw a wedge between him and Putin ahead of their crucial first-ever face-to-face meeting.

In Russia and China, authorities use anti-Americanism sentiments to build domestic consensus by making an evidence-based case of US-led Western-orchestrated hostilities.

However, Beijing and Moscow, too often at the receiving end of hostile US policies towards their respective nations, have elected to forge tighter ties instead. It is an act of solidarity in the face of threats to their sovereignty.

China's foreign minister Wang Yi recently noted that the fight against COVID-19 has further served to bolster the modern-day bilateral relations between the two global power giants.

"China-Russia relations have stood the test of a once-in-a-century pandemic and unprecedented global changes, and reached a historic high in all respects," Yi said.

He also cited the constant communication between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as proof of water-tight relations. Most of such interactions are hardly a matter for public relations exercises. However, decisions of astronomical proportions affecting geopolitics and strategic balance are taken.

Last month, a Chinese poll revealed that more than half of the 2000 respondents viewed Russia as their most important neighbour ahead of a host of other nearby Asian nations.

China-Russia relations, also known as Sino-Russia relations, are therefore a constant concern and source of major worry to the domineering global North. The recent G7 meeting in London that was immediately followed by a Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels both raised their concerns about Russia and China as separate but collective threats to the Western dominance of the world, or "the democratic world" as they call it.

Whilst in London, President Biden also publicly raised the worrying closer military cooperation between Moscow and Beijing in the Arctic region, where Russia is the current occupant of the two-year rotational chair of the Arctic Council.

Although China is not officially part of the Arctic nations, the country's close proximity to the Arctic Circle and its rapidly growing international stature and influence is a major source of consternation particularly for the US, as seen by President Biden's recent remarks in London.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently referred to China as Russia's "priority partner" in the Arctic.

The Arctic is one of the world's most strategic Geographical areas, located at the northernmost part of the Earth as a "polar region" and consisting mainly of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska in the US. The eight Arctic states who make up the Arctic are Canada, the Kingdom of Demark (which includes the autonomous constituent countries of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US.

It is this composition that makes the relationship between Russia's and China's diplomatic interaction with NATO and the West a lot more tricky. With the exception of the US, none of the Arctic Circle members are trigger-happy and dialogue, instead of confrontation, is evidently their preferred way of inter-relations.

Although Russia-China relations have been stronger for Donkey's Years, the 2008 global financial crisis brought them ever closer. And, since 2014 when Russia took over Crimea from Ukraine and triggered a barrage of unsuccessful Western economic sanctions, business relations between Beijing and Moscow have risen exponentially.

The advent of COVID-19 has also served as nourishment to Russia-China relations. Russia has recently turned to China to manufacture more Sputnik V vaccines in the wake of drastically rising demands.

Closer ties between Moscow and Beijing are understandably bad news for Washington and the West. Both countries are nuclear powers with huge populations, with China's people more than 1.4 billion and Russia more than 145 million, according to the UN 2021 statistics.

Conversely, closer ties between Russia and China are indeed good news for the global South. Closer to home, a stronger bond between Moscow and Beijing is also fantastic news for the BRICS bloc.

The countries of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), when combined form a significant base of the global population at 3.12 billion. Together, they account for more than 30% of the global GDP.

Russia and China are also two of the only five permanent members of the UN Security Council who possess a veto power.

Other BRICS members can therefore benefit from this scenario in a similar way to the manner in which the State of Israel continually and constantly benefit from the USA's penchant to veto any resolution that condemns Israel's illegal occupation of the State of Palestine. That is the powerful advantage that both Russia and China bring to BRICS.

The members need only to formulate a common foreign policy position that benefits all members.

China and Russia further have enormous interest in the development of Africa. One need only visit the HQ of the AU in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to see the majestic building that China has built.

The two countries have enormous socio-political and economic interests in Africa, with both contributing to the UN peacekeeping force on the continent. The other distinctive aspect between Russia and China is that none of them ever colonised any African State and looted the wealth belonging to the locals, as was the case with former colonial masters such as France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and UK, among others.

In the final analysis, the successful ties between Russia and China are to the benefit not only of BRICS but also of the entire global South.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
NDB Board of Directors Held 31st Meeting, Approved Three Projects (Совет директоров НБР провел 31-е заседание, одобрил три проекта) / China, July, 2021
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

On June 29, 2021, the Board of Directors (Board) of the New Development Bank (NDB) held its 31st Meeting in a virtual format.

At the Meeting, three project proposals were presented to the Board for approval. With the approval of the three projects by the Board of Directors, NDB's entire portfolio of commitment reaches USD 29 billion, while the cumulative disbursement reaches USD 10.69 billion.

Anhui Province Roads Development Project

The NDB Board of Directors approved a loan of EUR 340 million to Anhui Province to improve road network and services along critical corridors in the participating municipalities. A total mileage of about 196 km will be constructed or upgraded under the Project. At the same time, the Project will pilot advanced technologies for sustainable road development on the six road sections, aiming to ensure construction quality, enhance the efficiency of resource utilization, as well as improve services and management. The Project will also promote socio-economic development through improving connectivity and mobility in Anhui Province. In addition, suitable innovative technologies to be piloted throughout road construction, upgrading and operations & management periods will demonstrate the benefits of sustainable roads development, including improvement of construction quality, road safety and management efficiency in an energy-saving and environmentally friendly manner.

BNDES Clima – Sustainable Financing to Support Global Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption in Brazil

The NDB Board of Directors approved the restructuring of the Fundo Clima USD 500 million loan, originally approved by the NDB's Board in October 2019. The main feature of the restructuring of the Project is the change of the borrower to the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the change of the Federative Republic of Brazil's role from the former Borrower to Guarantor of the loan. The Project, renamed after its new Borrower to "BNDES Clima," maintains the original Project's objectives and development goals: it shall contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation investments in various sectors, such as urban mobility, waste treatment, renewable energy and energy efficiency, among others, through BNDES on-lending to public and private sectors. BNDES will be responsible for overall Project monitoring and evaluation, as well as sub-projects selection, taking advantage of its experience in the infrastructure sector. BNDES Clima long-term debt operations are expected to have a significant crowd-in effect in terms of additional investment in sustainable infrastructure.

Develop Sorocaba – Sorocaba Mobility and Urban Development Project

The NDB Board of Directors approved a loan of USD 40 million to the Municipality of Sorocaba for Sorocaba Mobility and Urban Development Project. The objective of the Project is to improve the existing road infrastructure, promotion of alternate means of transportation, increase in productivity of workforce, improvement in the environment and quality of lives of its residents. The loan will be used for the creation of underpasses, rehabilitation of roads, construction of access road to a recreational park, and implementation of macro-drainage infrastructure to improve urban mobility and accessibility within the municipality of Sorocaba, which has witnessed rapid economic growth and attracted an industrial park used by various multinational corporations, due to its strategic and advantageous geographic location.

The Board of Directors was briefed on the NDB's robust and dynamic project pipeline, project implementation, disbursement and project procurement in all member countries of the Bank.

Updates on the expansion of the NDB's membership and LIBOR transition were provided to the Board.

The 19th Meeting of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee and the 15th Meeting of the Budget, Human Resources and Compensation Committee took place virtually on June 28, 2020.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021. The NDB received AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch and AAA foreign currency long-term issuer rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) and Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).
New Development Bank and Banco Do Brasil Signed Memorandum of Understanding Establishing Framework for Cooperation (Новый банк развития и Banco Do Brasil подписали меморандум о взаимопонимании, устанавливающий рамки сотрудничества) / China, July, 2021
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements

On June 28, 2021, the New Development Bank (NDB) and Banco do Brasil S.A. entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and established a framework for cooperation and promotion of initiatives in areas of common interest. The Memorandum was signed by Mr. Marcos Troyjo, NDB President and Mr. Fausto de Andrade Ribeiro, CEO of Banco do Brasil at an online ceremony during the launch of the "Plano Safra" 2021/2022 by Banco do Brasil.

According to the Memorandum, NDB and Banco do Brasil intend to cooperate in line with their respective mandates, policies and strategies, in areas such as joint participation in financial assistance for infrastructure and sustainable development projects; exploring cooperation opportunities in financial market businesses, including currency exchange, bond issuance, investment, and derivatives; cooperation in cash management and settlement services; exchange of information and promotion of knowledge-sharing; as well as providing mutual training and development of staff.

"It is an honor for the New Development Bank to sign today a partnership memorandum with Banco do Brasil," said Mr. Marcos Troyjo, NDB President. "As one of the main players in the infrastructure sector in Brazil, and with extensive experience with public and private clients, Banco do Brasil has the potential to be an instrumental partner in directing NDB's resources towards the country's infrastructure and sustainable development."

According to Mr. Fausto Ribeiro, CEO of Banco do Brasil, "this Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates the support of agribusiness by Banco do Brasil, promoting the constant expansion and modernization of this segment so crucial for Brazil's economy."

Background information

New Development Bank

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021.

Banco do Brasil

In the 212 years of existence, Banco do Brasil is a financial, economic conglomerate that offers solutions and services of excellence in its diverse areas of expertise.

Banco do Brasil was the first banking institution to operate in the country and the first company listed on the stock exchange in Brazil. It is a company recognized by its credibility, security, and modern approach.

Banco do Brasil balances consistent results with a commitment to sustainability and the most advanced corporate governance practices. It has also been acting at the forefront of technology, accelerating its digital transformation and innovation process to deliver the best experience for its customers.

As the principal agent of the country's economic and social development, and public policies, Banco do Brasil supports agribusiness, infrastructure, small and mid-size enterprises, and foreign exchange, acting responsibly to promote social inclusion in jobs and income generation.

In May of this year, Banco do Brasil reached the historical mark of R$ 200 billion in credit for the Agribusiness sector. Consolidating its leadership in this segment, it is responsible for around 54% of all rural credit available in the Brazilian financial system.
World of Work
Basic Sanitation and Sustainable Development in Brazil (Базовая санитария и устойчивое развитие в Бразилии) / Russia, July, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion

Matheus Marques, Intern of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research – special for InfoBRICS

Brazil has the best performance in ensuring the right to basic sanitation in terms of income level between BRICS countries. With more efficient measures to mitigate the lack of basic sanitation, the country aims to change the reality of 100 million householders who have limited access to these services. Transforming this reality is essential to promote sustainable development in the country and consequently change the sanitation infrastructure in Brazil.

The situation in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro Guanabara Bay is very delicate. Particularly with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, it was expected that the water pollution in the area would be reduced through governmental efforts. Because of the Olympics, the city mayor made some promises saying that he would change this situation, what did not happen. Today, the concentration of pollutants and other materials in the water increased as the society and the politicians did not take effective actions to improve this reality. Even after Rio 2016, the contamination is still there and the environment is suffering with the consequences of the secular daily habits of the people and their representatives.

Guanabara's contamination is also seen across other Brazilian regions as a recent study advises. In 2017, in spite of being a country with some of the most important river basins, Brazil had cities where only 1% of the population had access to basic sanitation services. There were capitals like Belém and Macapá (cities from the North region) where only respectively 13% and 9% of the population had sewage collection. As a capital from the South East Region, Rio scored 85% on the other hand.

Nonetheless, the World Bank estimates that 88% of Brazil is using at least basic sanitation services, what is a good score between emerging economies. Comparing to other BRICS countries, Russia scores 90%, China has 84%, South Africa performed 75% and despite the exponential improvement, India represents the worst percentage with only 59%.

As highlighted before, it is worth seeing that even if Brazil scores better than other countries in basic sanitation services, it still faces a huge problem towards implementing quality sanitation services. For example, São Paulo has been increasingly producing more sewage and trash than ever. As the city already has more than 18 million inhabitants living in the metropolitan area, the water pollution is getting higher day by day. Considering that most of the water resources are not being recuperated and treated as they should be, this causes a huge crisis for drinking supply.

Just like in Rio, wastewater can cause eutrophication, leading to a huge increase of the biochemical demand for oxygen, reducing the living conditions for microorganisms, plants and animals in aquatic ecosystems. If the wastewater is not treated properly, this also means that humans may be drinking polluted water rather than the potable one. Once the wastewater is not freshwater, it will later bring effects towards terrestrial ecosystems and consequently lead to environmental issues for life on land.

Sustainable Development

The Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, in its Sustainable Development Goals, recognizes that it is extremely important to mitigate this scenario. The SDG 6 takes into account the need for Clean Water and Sanitation, the 12th focuses on Responsible Consumption and Production, while the 14th (Life below Water) and the 15th (Life on Land) address the preservation of life on earth.

Especially for wastewater management, the SDG 6 shall be considered because it is associated with basic sanitation and efficient urban engineering to treat wastewater and reduce any possible harm to the environment and the society. With responsible human beings who take the SDG 12 into account, the wastewater will be reduced and so will the need for wastewater systems.

According to the SDG 14 and 15, to protect the species and the ecosystems in which humans, animals, microorganisms and plants live, the society and the government must implement efficient measures to treat wastewater in order to avoid any possible contamination of water resources, soils, groundwater and the whole environment.

Considering Brazil's reality, it is possible to see that sustainable development is still far away from the context of Brazilian householders, besides developing countries. To clarify, basic sanitation is still a privilege as 90% of Least Developed Countries do not have wastewater systems. Furthermore, if a country has low GDP per capita, it is very likely that it does not have a good treatment and an efficient connection to collect and treat wastewater.

Moreover, there are many factors that contribute to a poor sanitary infrastructure such as solid trash, sewage, microplastics, home appliances and particularly oil such as the one used in small boats and ships. When those chemicals and products are transported into the water resources, they create a vicious cycle of contamination just like in Brazil's biggest metropoles.

Basic Sanitation Services

From a different approach, Brazil has been allocating much more economic resources to ensure the right to basic sanitation than other emerging economies, the 2018 HRMI Rights Tracker suggests.

As a low/middle income country, Brazil is investing 80,4% of what is possible in terms of its national income level to promote the right to access basic sanitation services. Between BRICS countries, this is the best score as India invests only 55,3%, South Africa represents 63,5%, China corresponds to 75% and Russia is equal to 79,1%. With HRMI and World Bank data, this reality demonstrates that Brazil is a reference in basic sanitation for the developing world.

Still, the country is reforming its national laws so that every Brazilian can have basic sanitation services by 2033. This happens because in spite of the good overall scores, Brazil is a huge country with many social inequalities, being one of them the lack of public policies to universalize these services.

The New Regulatory Framework for Sanitation, which changed sanitation laws in Brazil, was implemented to improve the life of 100 million people that do not have wastewater collection. The lack of wastewater management is similarly a big problem because it causes socioeconomic impacts ranging from health issues to less years of education and lower GDP per capita. According to the national Investment Partnerships Program, the new law is equally necessary because it will open this sector for private investments.

In conclusion, Brazil has many cities that do not have basic sanitation services regardless of the positive results achieved by the country. The Latin-American state is a good motivator for other developing economies as it has the best scores for sanitation services and the highest percentage of proportional public expenditure allocation for basic sanitation.

Over time, the country has improved the sanitation infrastructure in the country as shown by the analyzed data. However, cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo highlighted that many promises that remain in the past are devasting the future of water resources and aquatic ecosystems in the country. This affects the human health and represents a serious threat to the implementation of sustainable initiatives to mitigate the impact of untreated wastewater and the lack of quality public services across the country.
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