BRICS have adopted a five-year agenda to jointly tackle population issues, including women’s rights, aging and migration as the five countries brace against economic headwinds from less favourable demographics.
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 Thursday 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.
UN figures say the working age population (defined as being between 15 and 64 years old) of the biggest emerging markets will rise by 0.3 per cent per year on average in 2014-19, compared with 1.6 per cent in 2000-05.
President of Brazil’s National Population and Development Commission Ricardo Paes de Barros said Brazil can learn from China on managing the floating population, increasing the presence of women in the workplace and reducing maternal mortality.
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 towards “mutual goals.”
His Indian counterpart, S.K. Sikdar, noted only 30 per cent of India’s population currently lives in urban areas, but the figure is expected to reach 90 per cent 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.