Insightful stories of the most pressing local, regional, and international developments brought to you by Sputnik.

'Global Order Shift': BRICS Seen as Partner Who Can Take Global South Forward – Bloc's Youth Leader

© AFP 2023 GULSHAN KHANDelegates attend a Business Forum organised during the 10th BRICS summit on July 25, 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Delegates attend a Business Forum organised during the 10th BRICS summit on July 25, 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 22.07.2023
On Thursday, Anil Sooklal, Ambassador-at-Large for Asia and BRICS in the South African Department of Foreign Affairs and South Africa's BRICS Sherpa, said that more than 40 countries have expressed an interest in joining BRICS; 22 of them have already submitted formal applications. This comes as BRICS expansion has been actively discussed lately.
The grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as BRICS, continues to evolve and solidify its position as a prominent player in contemporary politics and the global economy, Raymond Matlala, chairman of the South African BRICS Youth Association (SABYA), told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview.
Matlala also highlighted the significant developments and growing interest from countries around the world in joining the BRICS alliance.
Turning to the geopolitical landscape, the SABYA chairman underscored a shift in allegiances and alliances in today's world. The expansion of BRICS has become a key topic of discussion, with more than 40 countries expressing interest in joining this influential group.

"There is a shift in the geopolitics in terms of the global order. And people see BRICS as a partner that can take them forward, especially in the Global South, right, in comparison to the current global order where the more global North, the West, has absolute power in the global economy, in the UN Security Council, the WTO, the World Bank," Matlala said.

Speaking on the contribution of the BRICS alliance to the reform of the global economic system, Matlala pointed to the economic success stories within the BRICS countries, including Russia, which has managed to achieve impressive economic growth in the face of unprecedented Western sanctions and is now the world's tenth-largest economy.
The 10th BRICS Summit, in Sandton, South Africa, July 24, 2018 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 26.04.2023
Sub-Saharan Africa
South Africa Lauds BRICS as 'Champion' in Addressing Unequal Global Political Architecture
"You look at China, China now has positioned themselves as the, you know, the global hub, the global economic hub, if you may put it that way. India has made significant growth in the last decade, moving from tenth [place] in the global economy to fifth," he explained. "You also look at now Russia, especially with the sanctions, that the expectation was that the Russian economy would collapse."
According to Matlala, these examples demonstrate a clear trend among BRICS nations, as they transition from relying heavily on the global North and Western powers to strengthening their own localized economies.

This localized approach has proven successful and paves the way for a more customized global economic system.

Matlala also highlighted the considerable economic influence of the BRICS nations, with the combined GDP and global economic outlook surpassing that of the Group of Seven (G7), which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

"The BRICS GDP and their global economic outlook surpasses that of the [G7] combined in its current format," he said. "So if you think about the expansion, if you think about the growth that is still to come, if you think about the BRICS trading in local currencies in the coming years and ultimately the thinking and the establishment of the BRICS currency backed by gold, there will be a huge or rather a significant economic shift from the global north to the global south with a particular focus on the BRICS."

Youth Engagement in BRICS

The chairman of the South African BRICS youth association also discussed the role of young people in building a multipolar global architecture within the BRICS member states. Matlala highlighted the need for more concrete actions and implementation in order to harness the potential of youth participation in shaping multilateral platforms such as BRICS.
Matlala acknowledged that discussions and talks regarding the reform of multilateral institutions have taken place within the realm of youth engagement. However, he expressed disappointment over the limited progress achieved thus far in translating these dialogues into tangible outcomes.
"In fact, SABYA did an analysis where we analyzed the BRICS Youth Summit recommendations from 2015 to 2019, and there were 96 policy recommendations that were finalized by the BRICS Youth Summit meetings from those years," he said. "And of those, we haven't seen any of them being directly implemented."
According to Matlala, one crucial aspect that has not materialized is the establishment of a BRICS Youth Secretariat or Council, which was proposed during the first BRICS Youth Summit in Kazan in 2015. This dedicated structure would play a crucial role in implementing, monitoring and evaluating the recommendations made by the youth.
Matlala emphasized that the creation of such a platform is essential for ensuring effective youth participation in decision-making processes.
Russian Foreign Minster, Sergey Lavrov, right, and his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, left, at a meeting with their counterparts from the BRICS economic bloc of developing nations in Cape Town, South Africa Thursday, June 1, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 21.07.2023
2023 BRICS Summit in Johannesburg
Lavrov, BRICS Counterparts Discuss Preparations for Future Summit
When discussing the obstacles faced by BRICS in bringing about these changes, Matlala noted that there are no inherent barriers. Instead, he stressed the importance of BRICS governments prioritizing youth in multilateral platforms.
While acknowledging "pockets of good practices" within the BRICS countries, Matlala highlighted that the challenge of involving youth in decision-making is not exclusive to BRICS.
He noted that multilateral platforms like the Y20 (the youth engagement group of the G20) and the United Nations also face difficulties in implementing resolutions and recommendations put forward by youth representatives.
"I can tell you now, even with that, although I have not done the analysis, but I've been part of that process and been quite engaged, in fact led the South African delegation in the 2018 to Y20 in Argentina," Matlala said. "We drafted communiques and sent them to the sherpas and the leaders, but there hasn't been any implementation of those resolutions."
He firmly stated that the inclusion of youth voices in the UN Security Council or General Assembly would hasten the resolution of global issues, as young people generally agree on fundamental matters.
"If youth were put in the UN Security Council or General Assembly to vote on some of the issues that are happening around the globe, there will be a smoother and faster resolution of these things because young people agree in principle on the issues that are happening globally," he argued. "So it's not just BRICS. And that's the point I'm trying to make."

2023 BRICS Youth Forum in Durban

The recently held 9th BRICS Youth Summit in Durban, in the eastern South African province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), on July 18-21, saw lively discussions and promising ideas for the future. Raymond Matlala highlighted the key priorities addressed at the Summit and the potential impact of the policy recommendations.
According to Matlala, discussions during the summit focused on five priorities, including post-pandemic economic recovery, skills development, intra-African and BRICS trade, equitable and just transition, and reform of multilateral institutions.
He said delegates actively engaged with these priorities and made realistic policy recommendations to BRICS leaders during the commission's feedback sessions.
"And what's coming out, quite interestingly, is that during the commission reports, we had the delegates propose very nice and key, realistic, tangible policy recommendations to the BRICS leaders on education, on just transition, on the economy, on trade, and also on reform, calling for reform of the UN Security Council, calling for reform of the IMF and the World Bank," the chairman of the South African BRICS youth association said.
An important outcome of these discussions was the broad consensus on the need to establish the BRICS Youth Council. Delegates recognized the potential of such a council to effectively engage young people in multilateral decision-making processes and ensure the implementation of policy recommendations.
The BRICS Youth Summit is held in Durban, South Africa, on July 18-21.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 18.07.2023
2023 BRICS Summit in Johannesburg
South Africa's Durban Hosts BRICS Youth Summit Ahead of Main Event
Matlala expressed optimism that the delegates from the five BRICS member states would take this important agenda back to their respective countries and work to make the establishment of the BRICS Youth Council a reality in the near future.
When asked about the prospects of the policy recommendations being implemented this time around, Matlala highlighted the ongoing discussions and commitments made by officials. While acknowledging that implementation will depend on a number of factors, he stressed the importance of establishing the BRICS Youth Council to ensure the implementation of these recommendations.
Matlala noted that South Africa's Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation closed the ninth BRICS Youth Summit with a commitment to promote this agenda at the upcoming BRICS Foreign Ministers' and Leaders' Meetings in August.
"But that does not say that they will all be implemented, but there would be expression and maybe some level of commitment. But we'll see how that goes. But ultimately, the establishment of the Council is the one that is going to ensure that all of these policy recommendations are implemented," Raymond Matlala concluded.