BRASILIA — The BRICS bloc of emerging economies has adopted a five-year agenda to jointly tackle population issues, including women’s rights, aging and migration.
Ministers and high-level envoys from bloc members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which have a combined population of nearly 2.9 billion, announced the decision late on Feb 12 in Brazil’s capital Brasilia, following three days of talks.
The approval of the 2015-2020 agenda means the bloc, which has already consolidated cooperation in political, financial and economic fields, will now work together on social and demographic matters.
Alexandre Ghislene, director of human rights and social affairs at Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the measure helps bolster not only the bloc, which includes four of the world’s 10 most populous nations, but also “south-south cooperation.”
“BRICS countries want to share our experience not just among ourselves, but also with other developing nations that are interested,” Ghislene said.
President of Brazil’s National Population and Development Commission Ricardo Paes de Barros highlighted the importance of cooperation, saying China has rich experience in migration management during its urbanization as well as in training, healthcare and education.
Brazil can learn from China how to manage the floating population, increase the presence of women in the workplace and reduce maternal mortality, said Paes.
Deputy Minister of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission Wang Pei’an underscored the importance of adequately attending to an aging population, especially in a country with 200 million people over the age of 65, to offer this segment a better quality of life.
Russia’s Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection Sergey Velmyaykin said “aging and waves of migration” are among the problems affecting bloc members, so it makes sense to work together toward “mutual goals”.
His Indian counterpart, S.K. Sikdar, noted only 30 percent of India’s population currently lives in urban areas, but the figure is expected to reach 90 percent in the next 70 years, leading India to take an interest in others’ experience in rural-to-urban migration.
The next BRICS ministerial meeting on population issues will be hosted by China in 2018, along with a series of technical meetings over the coming years on each of the agenda’s six themes.