JOHANNESBURG– Equality and inclusive development have dominated the discussions at the 10th BRICS Academic Forum which kicked off in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Monday.

The meeting of officials and experts from the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — at the May 28-31 forum are discussing policies and research papers to find ways to improve the lives of the people living in the five emerging economies which account for about 41 per cent of the world’s population.

The BRICS formation is one that is based on a progressive view of how the world should develop; and the world is in need of progressive ideas that come from issues of social justice and inclusion. So I’m hoping that the colleges here will look at this conceptual ideal and help us to generate concrete responses based on that, said Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training.

Thought leaders, including delegates from universities, government officials and members of the BRICS Think Tank Council, are among the delegates at the four-day meeting.

Pandor opened the forum with a call to delegates to find ways to address inequality. All the colleagues gathered here will probably agree that as part of the knowledge-generating community we live in uncertain times, she said, adding that knowledge and truth were being threatened by both the powerful and wealthy and those who had been marginalized.

The BRICS partnership offers an alternative model of global friendship and solidarity. It needs to articulate a more optimistic and a more resolute narrative of inclusion and progressive values, a narrative that commits to addressing the needs and interest of the most vulnerable, a narrative that suggests the possibility of a block that can redress the imbalances that confront so many millions in our communities and the world broadly, she said.