Meeting of BRICS science ministers adopts Durban Declaration

The 6th Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministerial Meeting welcomed a proposal to establish a BRICS vaccine research and development centre.


Support for the proposed centre is included in the Durban Declaration, adopted at the meeting today.


Opening the meeting, the Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said the theme, "Leveraging science, technology and innovation through inclusive growth and development", captured South Africa's aim to use its term as BRICS President to focus on enhancing BRICS cooperation in the generation and application of new knowledge, to improve the quality of life of all BRICS citizens, and to advance global sustainable development.


South Africa assumed the rotating BRICS Presidency on 1 January 2018 and is hosting several activities around the 10th BRICS Summit, which is taking place later this month.  The theme for the Summit is "BRICS in Africa: Cooperation for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution". 


"The work of the BRICS Working Group on Information and Communication Technologies and High Performance Computing, and its proposals for a flagship partnership to invest in big data technologies for socio-economic benefit, is an excellent example of our BRICS partnership responding to the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution," said Minister Kubayi-Ngubane.


BRICS brings together the five major emerging economies, which occupy 26% of the world's territory, and make up 40% of the global population. This is an enormous consumer market with a constantly growing demand for modern goods and services.


In the past four years, these countries have accounted for 22% of the world's gross domestic product and 17% of world trade share, producing a third of the world's industrial products and one half of its agricultural goods. Intra-BRICS investment has grown 10%. The BRICS countries have also contributed to the robust performance of the G20.


South Africa's BRICS Sherpa, Ambassador Anil Sooklal, who also addressed the event, said the July summit had special significance, as it concluded the first decade of BRICS Summits at the highest diplomatic level.  "This year is also important as the BRICS Chairship coincides with the centenaries of Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu," said the Ambassador.


Brazil's Vice-Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication,Dr Álvaro Prata, said that BRICS was an important player in global affairs. He said that, in spite of Brazil's economic difficulties, the country remained committed to participating in all the BRICS STI meetings.


Vice-Minister Prato said, "Innovation and entrepreneurship is a way of moving ahead even in the presence of challenges. The transformation of technology in terms of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will benefit all societies.  The question now is how we empower them to participate in this revolution."


India's Minister of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said his country was on a mission to create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. India implemented initiatives at all levels of society to create innovative communities, including at school level.  Young people were exposed to new technologies like robotics and 3D printing, and young innovators were assisted with technology incubation.


China said BRICS STI cooperation was successful and represented a significant proportion of the world's knowledge production. "China ranks number 1 in scientific publications," said Huang Wei, China's Vice Minister of Science and Technology.


Russian Ambassador Mikhail Petrakov said that societies could not move forward without STI, and that the BRICS meeting should have concrete and practical results.


The Durban Declaration includes the establishment of a BRICS partnership on the new industrial revolution, and South Africa will explore mobilising STI resources in support of this initiative.

Read the full Durban Declaration.



Issued by the Department of Science and Technology


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