BRICS pre-summit meetings gather pace, showcase India
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) calendar year is packed with more than 50 meetings across a whole range of sectors which are held in the run-up to the Summit of leaders from all the five member countries.
The BRICS Working Group on Energy Saving & Energy Efficiency just concluded their pre-Summit meeting (July 4 and 5) in which they deliberated on how to increase cooperation in energy saving and energy efficiency within BRICS. During the deliberations, officials from India, Russia, China, South Africa and Brazil made presentations on measures taken to save energy, improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint
Among the main areas of cooperation and a key objective of BRICS is energy cooperation through joint research and technology projects.
The meeting was a follow-up to the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding in energy saving and energy efficiency, signed by BRICS energy ministers in Moscow on November 20, 2015. The ministers had agreed to pursue energy cooperation through joint research and technology projects; through technology transfers, conferences, lectures and seminars; and exchange of experience and best practices.
The “Working Group on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency” meeting in Visakhapatnam will collate a report on the consensus they reached to promote energy efficiency among BRICS countries. The report will serve as a guiding tool for BRICS efforts in the field.
India showcased efforts to save energy made by Andhra Pradesh state, where the meeting was held, in the city of Vishakhapatnam. The city boasts of LED street lighting, which it has named the “Vizag Model of LED Energy Efficient Street Lighting.”
Energy efficiency is vital for India’s development, because over 20 percent of the country still remains without electricity.
World Bank statistics show that 78.7 percent of India's population of over 1.2 billion had access to electricity in 2012. While this would have improved, with wider rural power penetration over the past three years, it is a significant improvement over the last several decades. In 1990, before economic reforms were unveiled, less than 51 percent of the Indian population then (867 million then) had access to electric power.
Among others BRICS nations, China and Russia have universal or total access to electricity; (5.8 percent of China's population had no access in 1990). 99.5 percent of the Brazilian population has access to electric power, and in South Africa, 85.4 percent had access to electricity in 2012, up from 65 percent in 1990.
The theme of the BRICS Youth Summit was “Youth as Bridge for Intra-BRICS Exchanges.” The Summit deliberated on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Social Inclusion, Youth Volunteerism and Youth Participation in Governance. The 3-day event in Guwahati began with a session of Yoga and meditation every morning.
The second BRICS Youth Summit meeting, held from July 1 to 3, adopted the Guwahati Youth Summit Call for Action, aimed at encouraging far more interaction among the youth from BRICS, through education, sports and tourism. This was the second time the Youth Summit was held, after being initiated by Russia last year.
Speaking to the youth delegates and leaders, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “It is very appropriate that the 2nd BRICS Youth Summit should be held in India, because India is the most youthful country in the world today. 800 million citizens of India are under the age of 35. They are the driving force which has made India the fastest growing major economy in the world and a knowledge society which values learning and innovation.”
“I am glad that BRICS has recognized the power of youth,” said Swaraj. “It has been our endeavour to carry this tradition forward to foster bonds and exchanges amongst our Youth, our future.”
“You would be deliberating on several issues like skills development, social inclusion, youth volunteerism and participation in governance. These all are themes which are of great contemporary relevance, especially for BRICS countries,” Swaraj told the Youth Summit delegates at a reception she hosted for them June 30, before their deliberations started.
Around 65 Youth leaders from the five member countries attended the Youth Summit. The 20 member delegation from Russia was led by Sergei Pospelov, head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, while 14 members attended from South Africa, 12 from China (led by the Vice Minister, All China Youth Federation) and two from Brazil.
“Your deliberations will provide valuable inputs to the leaders of our countries in the BRICS Leadership Summit,” she said, adding, “It will allow us to factor in the voices of our youth in the agenda of our leaderships.”
“All five BRICS countries have rich resources in terms of youth, and BRICS countries youthful and democratic profiles, combined with our economic vibrancy, this can be an asset in consolidating exchanges between our people. Promoting deeper exchanges, especially among our youth, will enhance our collective prosperity and well-being. Investing in youth makes them a partner in the endeavours that BRICS undertakes. And the youth of BRICS can show the value of cooperation and consensus to the world,” she said, urging the youth to “be the change you want to see”.
Swaraj chaired a BRICS Parliamentary Consultative Committee on India’s Chairmanship last Thursday. An important precursor meeting for the BRICS Summit the parliamentary consultative committee meeting finalised details of the major events to take place in the coming months. The meeting of the all-party consultative committee gave suggestions on how to better coordinate all the events. The committee will meet again in September to finalise details for the Summit, due to be held in Goa on October 15 and 16.
The forthcoming BRICS summit will focus on building responsive, inclusive and collective solutions for the group.
India will emphasize institution-building and implementation of commitments made at previous summits. It will also try to explore synergies among the various existing and established framework mechanism of BRICS.
Earlier, Swaraj said that during India’s chairmanship, “over 50 sectoral meetings will be organised at the ministerial, official, technical, and track II levels.”
Enhancing “greater people-to-people participation” will be among the top priorities during the BRICS events which would be held “throughout the year across the country,” Swaraj said.
“We have planned a series of events, including the BRICS Under-17 Football Tournament, BRICS Film Festival, BRICS Wellness Forum, BRICS Youth Forum, Young Diplomat’s Forum, BRICS Trade Fair, BRICS Friendship Cities Conclave besides the think-tank and academic forums,” she said. “This will give people a greater opportunity to enrich the BRICS process. It would also be an occasion for our BRICS partners to visit different cities and states of India,” she added.
A BRICS technical group meeting of Interbank Cooperation Mechanism was held in Udaipur, in Rajasthan, in March, while the BRICS Friendship Cities Conclave was held in Mumbai. The “Working Group on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency” met in Visakhapatnam, while the BRICS Youth Forum met in Guwahati, in Assam, and an expert meeting to establish BRICS Railway Research Centre was held in Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh. While the first BRICS Trade Fair will be held in New Delhi, the summit of leaders is happening in Goa.