SA to host BRICS Friendship Cities

Thursday, June 21, 2018

South Africa is to host the BRICS ministers responsible for local government and disaster management, as well as mayors and other local government practitioners under the auspices of the BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Urbanisation Forum.

The BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Urbanisation Forum promotes engagement between BRICS states through cities and local bodies.

It promotes people to people cooperation among BRICS nations and collaboration at the local government level.

The forum, which will be chaired by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize, will be held in East London from 28 June to 1 July.

“This forum is a platform to strengthen collaboration between BRICS member states and to enable information-sharing in the local government sector for current and future collaboration. 

“The forum provides a platform for connecting BRICS states, cities and local bodies for learning from one another by conversation and cooperation, through linked thematic areas,” Mkhize said.

These meetings are part of the build-up activities towards the 10th BRICS Summit which will be hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in July.

The gathering will assist South Africa in meeting several socio-economic development goals.

Furthermore, the forum provides a platform to address issues such as managing urban development for inclusive growth.

It also provides an opportunity to engage BRICS counterparts in reversing apartheid spatial planning through sharing experiences with BRICS countries.

As part of the developing world, Mkhize said, South Africa faces the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

BRICS leaders engage in peer learning and share best practices and development models to address and combat these common challenges, he said, adding that four of the five BRICS countries are already among the 10 largest economies in the world.

“South Africa’s prospects for economic growth and job creation depend increasingly on diversifying and strengthening its economic links with the fastest-growing economies of the world,” said Mkhize. 

The forum will also promote economic social and economic linkages with BRICS partners in infrastructure development which is key for service delivery in municipalities in South Africa.

According to the Minister, there are opportunities for strong partnerships in skills development and exchange in building and construction, green building, designing city regeneration schemes, upgrading informal settlements and new city expansion planning.

“As we initiate recovery programmes to support some of our distressed municipalities, we look forward to lessons from BRICS counterparts on using urban development to overcome poverty and social disadvantage. The BRICS partners also have a lot to learn from South Africa as a new democracy that is still fighting the legacy and backlogs of the past,” said Mkhize.

The BRICS forum also lends the opportunity to involve young people in cities development, youth employment programmes and skills development. The BRICS forum also provides an opportunity to exchange views on urban resilience and disaster risk reductions initiatives.

It is an opportunity for sharing strategies on climate change, energy and resilience.

“South Africa seeks to address urban resilience, cities and climate change adaptation and disaster risk reductions and looks forward to a successful engagement with Ministers responsible for disaster management on the 1st of July.”

The Friendship Cities, Local Government Cooperation and Urbanisation Forum and the Meeting of BRICS Ministers responsible for Disaster Management will culminate in the adoption of two proposed separate Declarations.

The intention of the declarations is to re-affirm cooperation among BRICS members within the sector, provide a record of that commitment and to guide further interactions beyond the meetings. -