Fifteenth BRICS Summit: Building a sustainable future



The 15th meeting of BRICS leaders was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from August 22 to 24 with the theme "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism." More than 30 leaders of non-BRICS countries were invited to attend the meeting.

The BRICS countries have long honored the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation. Since its inception, the bloc has established a model based on economic cooperation, political security, and cultural exchanges, achieving fruitful results in many areas such as politics, economics, science, and technology. This approach has strengthened the community's ability to build a sustainable future.

First, upholding multilateralism and actively participating in global governance. The current economic globalization is facing headwinds, protectionism, and unilateralism. The willingness of Western powers to participate in global governance has been repeatedly weakened. In stark contrast, as outstanding developing countries, the BRICS nations have demonstrated their ability to play an essential role in global governance. Driven by the BRICS countries, the New Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement have improved the existing international financial system and enhanced developing countries' voices in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Cooperation mechanisms such as the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center, the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform, and the BRICS Digital Public Goods Platform provide public goods to countries worldwide, providing a new cooperation platform among developing countries. In addition, the BRICS countries have always regarded African countries as essential partners in multilateral cooperation. Leaders of the BRICS countries have expressed their support for Africa's development on many occasions, such as President Xi Jinping's signed article "Sailing the Giant Ship of China-South Africa Friendship and Cooperation Toward Greater Success," published by the South African media. The article proposed that China would help Africa to realize economic integration, industrialization, and agricultural modernization, promoting the African Union to join the G20 in the future.

Second, uniting developing countries and expanding BRICS. As a cooperation platform for emerging countries to unite and strengthen themselves, the BRICS cooperation mechanism has been extremely attractive to emerging countries eager to promote their development and participate in global governance since its establishment. The proposal of the innovative concept of "BRICS+" at the Xiamen Summit in 2017 has allowed more developing countries and even underdeveloped countries to reflect their demands through the BRICS mechanism. In 2021, the New Development Bank accepted Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay as new members. This "BRICS+" model of politics and economy expands multilateralism's influence and provides a unique platform for global governance. At the BRICS leaders meeting, the BRICS countries once again clarified the guiding principles, standards, and procedures for expansion, which also means that the BRICS countries are fully prepared to officially include the bloc's expansion as part of the "BRICS Agenda."

Third, developing a green economy, and promoting the development of sustainable finance. In the context of global countries joining hands to tackle climate change, the development of sustainable finance has become a worldwide consensus. As an indispensable and vital link in the global energy supply and demand chain, the BRICS countries have always followed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, supporting the establishment of a green and low-carbon circular economic system. The New Development Bank understands sustainable finance as a development strategy and formulates the green investment and financing policies of the "Environmental and Social Framework" and "Sustainable Financing Policy Framework." In 2017-2021, about two-thirds of the New Development Bank's investment was used for sustainable development projects such as renewable energy, digital infrastructure, smart cities, and water sanitation facilities. In the overall strategy of the New Development Bank from 2022 to 2026, 40 percent of the funds will be used to slow down the process of climate warming. In the future, sustainable finance will still be an important direction of its investment.

As President Xi Jinping emphasized: "Standing at the crossroads of history, we should both look back at the journey we have traveled and keep in mind why we established BRICS in the first place, and look forward to a shared future of a more comprehensive, close, practical and inclusive high-quality partnership so as to jointly embark on a new journey of BRICS cooperation." The world today is undergoing significant changes, the BRICS countries should actively cooperate with developed countries under the framework of the United Nations, the G20, and the WTO, hold high the banner of multilateralism, and safeguard the legitimate rights and development space of developing countries. At the same time, BRICS countries should also carry out closer and more effective cooperation in infrastructure construction, providing medical assistance to underdeveloped countries, establishing a good image of emerging powers, and promoting a shift of the concept of global governance from the "Washington Consensus" objectives to the ones aligned with the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.