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The Success of the 2016 BRICS Goa Summit

Alissa Wang, BRICS Research Group
October 16, 2016

The 2016 BRICS Goa Summit was successful in both its breadth and depth. It was spread over three sessions, producing a final declaration of 110 paragraphs. Solid progress was made on many traditional issues and many new issue areas were added, notably urbanization and biodiversity.

On the first traditional issue, climate change and energy, the BRICS welcomed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and recognized "the importance of energy-saving and energy-efficiency," the challenge of "scaling-up power generation and its efficient distribution, as well as the need to scale up low carbon fuels and other clean energy solutions." The BRICS specifically supported "a wider use of natural gas as an economically efficient and clean fuel to promote sustainable development as well as to reduce the greenhouse emissions" and, in this regard, referred back to the relevance of the Paris Agreement.

On health, the BRICS focused on the communicable diseases of HIV and tuberculosis. They specifically noted the efforts of BRICS health ministers to "achieve the 90-90-90 HIV treatment target by 2020" and called for advancing cooperation and action on HIV and tuberculosis in BRICS countries. The BRICS also discussed population-related matters and committed to "promote a long-term and balanced demographic development and continue cooperation on population related matters."

On labour and employment, BRICS leaders made solid progress by advancing the possibility of bilateral social security agreements among BRICS countries and recognizing the importance of social protection and labour rights. On education, they also built on previous successes and advanced the progress of the BRICS Network University and the BRICS University League. They are aimed at facilitating cooperation in higher education between BRICS members and due to begin their programs in 2017.

On agriculture, BRICS leaders welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding to establish the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform. A very specific commitment was made, calling upon "the development of infrastructure for irrigation to assist farmers in building resilience during times of drought and welcome sharing of experiences and expertise in these areas."

On the highly anticipated issue of terrorism, in a lengthy passage the BRICS leaders addressed many aspects. In particularly, they specifically condemned recent attacks, "including that in India." They also welcomed the creation of the new BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism.

The Goa Summit also ventured into new areas, broadening the BRICS agenda and actions. For the first time, the BRICS discussed the common challenges brought by urbanization and advanced cooperation between cities. The declaration recognized that the BRICS is home to 43% of the world's population and "among the fastest urbanising societies" and thus are facing "multi-dimensional challenges and opportunities of urbanisation." The BRICS affirmed its engagement in the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations and called for cooperation in "strengthening urban governance, making [cities] safe and inclusive, improving urban transport, financing of urban infrastructure and building sustainable cities." Furthermore, the leaders addressed biodiversity and the protection of endangered species by welcoming South Africa's 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Most importantly, the Goa Summit advanced the outreach agenda "in order to reach out and enrich [its] understanding and engagement with fellow developing and emerging economies." To this end, the leaders announced that the BRICS will hold an outreach summit with the members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Overall, the Goa Summit addressed a comprehensive range of international issues and began the crucial step of extending its outreach to a broader group of developing and emerging economies. It thus strengthened the BRICS institution by broadening its agenda and outreach, while making significant contributions to addressing truly global challenges from the perspective of developing countries.

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Alissa Wang
Alissa Wang is the chair of summit studies for the BRICS Research Group, and a research assistant at the G7 and G8 Research Group, the G20 Research Group, and the Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree with a specialist in international relations, a major in global health and a minor in political science. She is an editor for the reports produced by the G20 Research Group summit studies team, an analyst for the G7 Research Group summit studies team, and works on compliance research. Alissa is interested in Chinese history and politics as well as China's role in global governance. She was a member of the field team at the G7 Elmau Summit in Germany in 2015, the G7 Ise Shima Summit in Japan in 2016 and the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China in 2016.