‘BRICS need to expand scope after Covid-19’

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“BRICS should lead and be trend or policy setters. They should lead in vaccine democratisation,”said Lihle Ngcobozi …reports Asian Lite News

After Covid-19 exposed some challenges bedeviling the BRICS countries, there is a need to re-examine its strategies and integrate and expand its scope, said South African experts at the webinar “South Africa and the BRICS: Revisiting developmental priorities”.

The Witwatersrand University School of Governance lecturer, Lihle Ngcobozi said Covid-19 showed the problems of patents and vaccine nationalism that BRICS should address, Xinhua news agency reported.

“BRICS should lead and be trend or policy setters. They should lead in vaccine democratisation,” she added.

She pointed out that BRICS countries have a potential influence on global decisions such as climate change and Covid-19. It should have a blueprint on infrastructure development, economic reforms, fiscal prudence and post-economic recovery while respecting the sovereignty of the countries.

Krish Chetty, the Chief researcher at one of the country’s think tanks, the Human Science Research Council, said Covid-19 created new areas of cooperation.

She added that while China quickly managed to adjust to online learning at a large scale, countries like South Africa, India and Brazil faced challenges.

“We should continue with knowledge sharing on BRICS as think-tank and universities. There is a space to work together in renewable energy platforms and new technology. We must promote mass digital skills training for students and lecturers,” she said.

Sanusha Naidu, senior researcher at Institute for Global Dialogue, concurred with other experts.

She pointed out that while BRICS made progress in building institutions like Contingent Reserve Arrangement, New Development Bank, there have been calls for the establishment of the digital payment system.

Naidu called on members to address tariff and non-tariff measures which are barriers to trade within BRICS countries.

The webinar was organised by the South African Institute of International Affairs and South African BRICS Think Tank.

Events in 2022

 Even as India has successfully handed over the BRICS Chair to China from January 2022, it will be hosting five international events through the year, it was decided at the 15th meeting of the BRICS Science Technology Innovation (STI) Steering Committee.

BRICS STI is a forum for the scientific community from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to discuss and deliberate on topics of common interest in the field of science and technology.

The calendar of BRICS STI activities and expected deliverables were discussed at the meeting organised virtually on Monday, a release from the Ministry of Science & Technology said on Tuesday.

The five high-level events that India will host are: BRICS Startups Forum’s Working Groups meeting on Energy; Biotechnology & Biomedicine; ICT & High-Performance Computing and the STIEP (Science, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Partnership) Working Group Meeting, which will also witness the launch of BRICS innovation launchpad as a microsite (Knowledge Hub).

The BRICS STI Steering Committee meeting was attended by representatives from BRICS scientific ministries and foreign missions. The Indian delegation was led by Sanjeev Kumar Varshney, Advisor and Head, International Cooperation, Department of Science and Technology, the release said.

The Chinese side presented a broad outline of activities to be carried out during the entire year, which would mainly include thematic meetings, BRICS Young Scientist Conclave, senior official and ministerial-level meetings.

A total of 25 events have been planned, of which India will host five. The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is the main executing agency for the BRICS Startups Forum and creation of innovation Knowledge Hub.

The BRICS Young Scientist Conclave will be held in September 2022 in a virtual format, and thematic focus areas will possibly be carbon peak neutralisation, biomedicine, artificial intelligence, material science and modern agriculture.

China has proposed to host the 10th BRICS S&T ministerial-level meeting and the Senior Official Meeting in September 2022. On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, an exhibition will be organised to showcase the outcomes of successful projects supported under the BRICS Framework Programme (2015-2022).

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