The new BRICS Bank should offer a new vision for development, not more of the same

July 15, 2014

Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – better known as the BRICS – have finalized their 6th summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, consolidating the creation of a new development bank that will provide fresh sources of financing for emerging economies.

According to world-wide development organization Oxfam, even though additional development financing is welcome, the new BRICS Bank must support the reduction of inequality and foster sustainable development, instead of repeating traditional development financing which has reinforced export-oriented growth and mega infrastructure. 

In its new report The BRICS Development Bank: Why the world's newest global bank must adopt a pro-poor agenda, Oxfam states that the creation of the new bank, and with it the promise of reforming global multilateral finance, offers a real and concrete opportunity for governments of these countries to ensure development is sensitive to the needs of the poorest and most marginalized people.

Inequality reduction must be at the heart of the agenda

'BRICS Bank investments in infrastructure and services have to meet, first and foremost, the interests of poor and disadvantaged communities through the development of rural infrastructure, the creation of sustainable jobs, promotion of women's rights, and renewable energy. Too often we have seen that mega infrastructure projects have negative consequences for poor people. We don’t want more of the same', said Simon Ticehurst, Director of Oxfam in Brazil.

Oxfam calls on BRICS governments to put the reduction of inequality at the heart of a sustainable development agenda. Despite progress in poverty reduction, BRICS countries are still home to nearly half of the world´s poor (1.7 billion people), and, with the exception of Brazil, all are facing rising levels of inequality, which hinders economic growth, makes economies more volatile, fuels social unrest and conflict, and limits the ability to reduce poverty.

Civil society needs to be taken into account

Oxfam recommends that civil society experiences and contributions shape the design and implementation of the new Bank´s strategies, particularly from the perspective of women´s rights and those of local communities. 'Civil society has the potential to bring expertise on various BRICS development issues, in particular those that affect ordinary citizens within these countries, and the bank should ensure mechanisms for accountability and participation', added Ticehurst.

Oxfam considers that BRICS have a special responsibility in helping the world reach its goal of ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality and accomplishing equitable and sustainable development for all. These countries have made a lot of progress in recent years but still face the biggest challenges in these issues, and they should adopt a vision directed towards ending deprivation and building human capacities while paying attention to the responsible use of natural resources.

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