The Third BRICS Urbanisation Forum, held in Visakhapatnam from September 14-16, Andhra Pradesh, India, was themed Urban Transition in BRICS.
BRICS brings together five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – comprising 53.4 percent of the world population, having 23.1 percent of the world GDP and 17 percent share in the world trade. Over the years after its formation in 2006, the agenda of BRICS meetings has considerably widened to en compass topical global issues.
The BRICS Forum was established in 2011 with a focus on urban infrastructure to specifically discuss various thematic areas within the umbrella of urbanisation and infrastructure. Therefore, the Third Urbanisation Forum ensured that the thematic issues focussed on building productive and sustainable urban economies and livelihood strategies in urban environments as well as creating inclusive urban spaces. Since all the BRICS countries have been experimenting with policies addressing housing challenges, skilling and empowering the marginalized sections, new town developments, harnessing the power of technology through smart city interventions and increasing public participation in local governance, they shared their experiences in detail.
At the event, Mr Luke Moore, Urban Expert from ICLEI Africa presented ICLEI’s perspective on climate change, SDGs and urban environment and Mr Emani Kumar, Executive Director at ICLEI South Asia and Deputy Secretary General at ICLEI chaired a session on resilient water and sanitation management in BRICS, where countries shared their experiences.
A snapshot of current urban sustainability projects within the aforementioned ICLEI secretariats, and a collective position on lessons learnt from our BRICS members was presented by way of summary. The snapshot included the following key points:
• Crisis versus unifying factor – shift terminology away from problems and crises, towards a common rallying point
• Creative partnerships – co-production, complement rather than compete, collaborate around innovation spaces, recognise that project partners need to consider the legacy after they are no longer part of the project
• Knowledge driven solutions – at the local level, technological interventions are unlikely to succeed in the absence of local knowledge
• Not only will but vision – political will is an imperative, but political vision is the ‘x factor’
• Build on existing foundations – don’t reinvent the wheel, capitalise on existing momentum in project implementation
• Local, local – subnational governments and cities are emerging as the key role-players in addressing the challenges presented by urban sustainability within BRICS
Also, ICLEI happily expressed its willingness to work with cities and mayors of BRICS countries and support their sustainable urban development.