Towards Exploring Inclusive Partnerships and Collective Solutions

Towards Exploring Inclusive Partnerships and Collective Solutions


Towards Exploring Inclusive Partnerships and Collective Solutions

Partner Institution: Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (New Delhi)

2-4 October 2016

India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

Concept Note

Indian Presidency of BRICS and BRICS Civil Society Forum 2016

The 8th BRICS Summit will be hosted by India during its Chairmanship in 2016. The Civil Society Forum within BRICS was organised during the Russian Presidency at Ufa in 2015 called Civic BRICS. India finds value in this process of civil society engagement and has thus, decided to continue with this process by organizing the second BRICS Civil Society Organization (CSO) Forum ahead of the 8th BRICS Summit and seeks to facilitate and support deeper engagement of civil society groups from BRICS. Enhancing greater people-to-people participation in BRICS events will be India’s priority. Keeping this in mind, India plans 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. Various BRICS events across the country in different States have also been planned. This would result in greater opportunity for people to enrich the BRICS process.

India’s Approach to 8th BRICS Summit: I4C

BRICS has been an important alliance for cooperation in areas of economic, strategic and developmental concerns and the fast institutionalization of BRICS mechanisms show that this alliance has shifted the course of the new international economic order in a positive direction. The drivers of the BRICS process include the urge for alternate financial and trade mechanisms, regional geo-politics and the need to build bridges between societies and civilizations that these nations represent. Governments alone cannot create the momentum of transformational changes towards a balanced and fair world order that the process seeks to attain and it is with that in mind that the BRICS civil society forum is organised.

The theme of India’s BRICS Chairmanship is Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions. During India's BRICS Chairmanship, the five-pronged approach would be:

  • Institution building to further deepen, sustain and institutionalise BRICS cooperation;
  • Implementation of the decisions from previous Summits;
  • Integrating the existing cooperation mechanisms;
  • Innovation, i.e., new cooperation mechanisms on government-to-government, Track-II, business-to-business and people-to-people to tap the full potential of BRICS cooperation; and
  • Continuity, i.e., continuation of mutually agreed existing BRICS cooperation mechanisms.

In short, the Indian approach towards its BRICS Chairmanship could be captured as I4C.

About Civic BRICS, Ufa, Russia, 2015
First BRICS CSO Forum titled ‘Civic BRICS’ took place at the 7th BRICS Summit in 2015 at Ufa, Russia in the year of Russian Presidency. At the Russian meeting the key focus had been to ensure a constructive dialogue between the representatives of the civil society not only of the BRICS Member States, but as well the guest countries (Argentina, Mexico, Indonesia, and Egypt) with the decision-makers on the most important social issues - healthcare, education, culture, development, urban problems, finance, conflicts settlement. In order to have a streamlined discussion on the above areas seven working groups were created within the framework of the Civic BRICS. The working groups were as follows:
  • Health Care;
  • Education and Science;
  • Culture and Intercivilizational Dialogue;
  • Sustainable Inclusive Development;
  • Economics and Trade;
  • Peace and Security; and
  • Harmonization of interethnic-affairs.
Participants of Civic BRICS
The civil society, represented by non-governmental organizations, the academic community, independent experts and concerned citizens contributed significantly to the Civic BRICS process. Within the specificity of the working groups, issues of transparency, monitoring and evaluation, as well as supervision over the performance outcomes and fulfilment of the commitments undertaken by the Member States were also discussed.
Management Structure of Civic BRICS
Russia has a working group of CSOs which was formed in 2010. This unique mechanism of interaction between the state authorities and the civil society on the global agenda issues was initiated by the representatives of Russian CSOs and is backed up by the Russian Government. The main task of the group is to develop recommendations that reflect the concerns and positions of the civil society and their subsequent submitting to the states heads within various political dialogues. Since its formation, the group has participated in formats such as G8, G20, and the International Forum on the 6th Millennium Development Goal. Co-Chair for the Civic Process included members from Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia, MGIMO-University, MFA Russia; Head of AIDS Info share, Co-chair of BRICS&G20 NGOs Working Group; and Head of Agency of Social Information (ASI), Chair of Commission on Social Policies, Labor and Living Standards, Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation.

2nd BRICS Civil Society Forum to be organized by Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC)

The FIDC proposes to organize and coordinate this meeting prior to the BRICS Summit. The Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC), launched on 15 January 2013 in New Delhi, has been engaged in exploring nuances of India’s development cooperation programme, keeping in view the wider perspective of South-South Cooperation in the backdrop of international development cooperation scenario. It is a tripartite initiative of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, academia and civil society organizations.

FIDC proposes a two day dialogue to be organized around panel discussions and parallel sessions to deliberate upon key issues of global, national and sectoral significance. The BRICS CSO Forum can be inaugurated on the evening of 2nd October, 2016 and the substantive deliberations can take place on October 3 and 4, 2016 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

This would be done with the objective of ensuring maximum interaction and involvement of all participants. We propose to focus on sharing of knowledge on best practices and formidable challenges to be approached and mitigated through policy actions as well as through civil society partnership. We have already highlighted India’s approach to its BRICS Presidency. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in 2015 also defines its scope in terms of 5Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. Keeping in mind the Government of India’s approach for the forthcoming BRICS Summit, and the urgency of working towards multi-stakeholder partnerships as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development we propose the following themes for civil society engagement to be developed as issues of common response from BRICS.

Proposed Structure and Expected Outcome

Each session is expected to deliberate on respective themes with special focus on climate change, gender equality, youth issues and South-South Cooperation (SSC). The sessions can broadly fit under the three pillars of SDGs viz. Economic; Social; and Environmental issues. Each plenary session may also endeavour to present best practices, campaigns and partnerships in respective sectors for each of the BRICS nations. The concrete recommendations from different sessions would feed into the BRICS formal process.

The proposed themes for the sessions are as follows:

Plenary Session: Civil Society Partnership for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development comprising of the SDGs was adopted last year. Each of the 17 SDGs hold undiminished relevance across the BRICS countries. The BRICS member countries have come a long way in evolving into torchbearers of sustainable development and have demonstrated commitment, willingness and urge to address global inequities and climate resilience through strengthened partnerships at the global and regional levels.

  • The membership of BRICS offers unique opportunities for cooperation and dialogue on common challenges in the context of SDGs given similar development trajectories.
  • As large and vibrant economies mostly outside the early industrialized countries, BRICS nations have to engage in joint action (through South-South Cooperation and Development Cooperation) and cohesion amongst them on key issues of Means of Implementation of the SDGs particularly in finance and technology across goals would be important for achieving the SDGs.
  • Cooperation and collaboration in appreciating the cross cutting nature of the SDGs and in developing robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks (indicators) for Follow-up and Review would be crucial in this context.

Sessions pertaining to economic issues

  • Inequality, Economic Growth and Job Creation

BRICS countries together account for 43 per cent of the world’s population, 30 per cent of the earth’s landmass, and 25 per cent of the world’s share of global gross domestic product (GDP). BRICS members experiencing major economic growth in terms of GDP during the last few years have also experienced unintended consequences in terms of inadequate decent job creation, inequality and exclusion. Therefore, BRICS agenda over the years have broadened and deepened in pursuit of achieving people-centric development. Sectoral perspectives on means and opportunities alongside economic growth from regional experiences would greatly help policy planning towards sustainable employment creation. BRICS civil society platform should deliberate on pathways and trajectories of balanced and sustainable growth suited to country and regional contexts. Important areas for civil society engagement should include informal sector and labour welfare, access to skills and job creation; and socially inclusive policies and quality of public service to address the scourge of inequality.

  • Global Governance, Development Finance and Illicit Financial Flows – Mr. Jayant Sinha, MoS for Finance, Government of India at 3rd FfD at Addis famously remarked “ODA globally is $135 billion, whereas various estimates by the UN and other bodies estimate tax revenue lost to poor countries at over $300 billion annually, so the importance of tax revenues far exceeds the potential of ODA to tackle development”. Pressure created by India and other developing countries has borne fruit with regards to tax issues at the multilateral level. Apart from other areas of international economic governance like trade, investment and climate change, BRICS platform can be leveraged to shape a just and balanced international financial and tax architecture. Another area coming in sharp focus is the issue of routing and re-routing of illicit financial flows for non-development activities like funding extremist and terrorist organisations. The civil society platform should come up with practical and implementable ideas in the form of recommendations.
  • Inclusive Multilateralism in Trade and Sustainable Development The BRICS countries have collectively demonstrated most robust trade performance in the recent past that has been the primary driver of GDP growth worldwide with trade as its engine. These countries have graduated from passive players in world trade and integrated with trading systems at the multilateral and regional levels all across. However, the approach adopted by countries in the post World War II era towards rule based multilateral trading system is under tremendous stress in recent times with narrow and exclusionary approach being promoted through regional and plurilateral/mega-regional platforms. Civil society has a prominent role to play in shaping the international economic order through advocacy and evidence.

The fundamental understanding of gains from trade through acknowledgement of the difference in the levels and stages in development is being completely ignored at the cost of leaving aside the developing countries and their concerns, manifested in the erosion of special and differential treatment (S&DT).

BRICS need to focus on strengthening deeper partnership and collaboration for a rule based and inclusive multilateral trading system in the true spirit of the SDGs and the Means of Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Early conclusion of the Doha Development Round at the WTO would be crucial to ensure orderly gains from trade for all countries.

Sessions pertaining to social issues

  • Food security, Nutrition and Health

BRICS countries have a rather satisfactory performance in agriculture and have come a long way in ensuring food security for the large populations they support. However, food security at the macro level may not translate into equity in access or nutritional security. There is scope for cooperation not only on issues related access but also on innovations for integrated and holistic food systems. Moreover, the effects of climate change on agricultural systems and the associated impact on food security has emerged as a new challenge. India has adopted several innovative approaches to positively influence climate resilience in agriculture like bio-coating of fertilizers, soil health cards, and water management systems. Civil society engagement may be useful towards local and grassroots level models of sustainable agricultural practices with key lessons for institutional and resource gaps.

Attainment of health for all is a major challenge for BRICS countries. Preventive health care spanning over provision of nutritive food and clean drinking water and ensuring life friendly environment and guaranteed access to affordable medicine are shared concerns across them. The wide and varied experiences of the five countries with many replicable best practices among them can significantly contribute to the progress towards the SDG on health. Civil society cooperation in this regard across them, particularly through community empowerment, can bring in very positive results.

  • Security, Peace and Justice: Absence of peace and security challenges all notions of development. Advocacy for a just world order in terms of international cooperation on militancy and terrorism would be a significant contribution of this forum. A new dimension that has been added to the ambit of CSOs apart from development related agenda is the issue of peace and security. CSOs may not be directly involved in curbing terrorism by carrying out counter-terrorism activities however; their involvement in transitional justice in war ravaged and civil war inflicted areas are of critical importance. The onus of bringing the idea of ‘One World and Global Citizenship’ through intercivilizational linkages very much lies with the CSOs and other relevant actors.

Sessions pertaining to sustainability issues

  • Sustainable Urbanization and Urban Poverty Economic growth potentially is accompanied by skewed regional concentration of opportunities and rural urban divide. Urban areas are considered epicentres of growth and there is rapid proliferation in terms of size and number beyond megacities. BRICS member countries are specifically facing these challenges. With the burden of excess population, this has attained unmatched proportions in the BRICS countries. The result has been manifested as rapid yet unsustainable urbanization leading to problems of monstrous magnitude in areas like poverty, inequality, social harmony and above all climate change and pollution. While SDGs places preeminent importance on sustainable urbanization as one of its exclusive goals the achievement of this particular goal in BRICS would depend on maximum knowledge sharing and understanding of each other’s development trajectories based on partnership between governments and the civil society from these countries. Resource needs for sustainable urbanization is considered to be an important area of intervention and key reforms may be implemented towards empowering city administrations to generate resources from MDBs and other financial sources.
  • Sustainability and Science-Society Dialogue in BRICS – BRICS economies are not only large emerging economies, they are also hub of vibrant significant scientific and technological activities in broad range of areas spanning agriculture and biotechnology, ICT and electronics, medicines and medical devices and space technology. However, STI has not been fully utilized to realise developmental outcomes in these countries and science-society dialogue remains ill-developed. Moreover, there are important areas where present vs. future trade-off in the use of S&T has not been debated and discussed. The BRICS Civil society platform should provide adequate space to this dialogue and hence help in shaping a future agenda of sustainable development in these countries through best use of science and scientific temperament. Science society dialogue on climate change and issues related to it would be discussed in detail.

Plenary Session: Development Cooperation and Role of Civil Society

Development cooperation by Southern countries has been dubbed as South-South Cooperation (SSC). The sharp economic growth across Southern economies and subsequent deepening in their cooperation has evoked a growing interest in understanding the nature of SSC. The idea of SSC is not itself new but has come increasingly under the spotlight. There are several factors which are contributing to this; one is the result of a gradual decline in North-South flows. Given the notable improvements in the fundamentals of the Southern mega-economies like the BRICS, the sharp rise in the quantum and scope of flow of their funding towards SSC has attracted large attention in the global development cooperation arena.

Role of CSOs in the wider debate of development cooperation is of immense importance. CSOs contribute significantly to the process of development cooperation. CSOs work at different levels of engagement with the local population and policy makers. While the governments are instrumental in policymaking many times it is found that the local conditions differ across regions. CSOs can carry out innovation at the local level to make the programmes successful. CSOs also have the ability to adapt themselves to the local conditions and communicate the adaptation to the concerned authorities. Advocacy and extension is the area where CSOs from BRICS must act.