New BRICS forum launched

The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lechasa Tseoli

“The spirit of cooperation that BRICS represent must be exploited. Our meeting here must create the opportunity for us to expand this cooperation. From our different examples we must learn how to transform governance to create a better life for all. The agenda of the next two days is designed to the finding of solutions.” These were the words of Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lechasa Tseoli, at the launch of the second BRICS Urbanisation Forum and third Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Forum.

The three-day conference with the theme ‘Towards sustainable urbanisation’, provides a platform for member countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), to discuss the challenges faced by cities due to rapid urbanisation.

Tseoli added that it is important that our urban development plans are not done in isolation of the plans to develop rural areas, and should be linked to the country’s National Development priorities.

According to eThekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo, the event will ensure that the voices of cities are key to the overall BRICS process of contributing to a new world order that deals with urbanisation in a manner that leads to economic growth, environmental protection and sustainability. “We still have challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. I believe that the BRICS Urbanisation Forum and Friendship Cities Forum will contribute to our cities agenda for sustainability and a better life for all citizens.”

City Manager, Sibusiso Sithole, said eThekwini’s participation in the BRICS Forum is critical as it serves as a learning and knowledge sharing platform. “People are migrating to urban areas seeking employment and better living conditions at a rate faster than which cities can deal with provision of services. This poses a serious challenge in terms of environmental resources, water and sanitation, public health, housing delivery, amongst other issues. Food security is also threatened as agricultural land is developed. By participating in this forum the Municipality will be able to form partnerships to learn and share best practice with other developing countries on how to deal with these critical issues, build stronger communities and genuinely sustainable human settlements. It also provides an ideal networking environment to promote our city as a tourist and investment destination.”

Five cities from BRICS partners, Rio de Janeiro, Saint Petersburg, Mumbai, eThekwini and Qingdao have already established a co-operation partnership to learn useful lessons about the relationship between growth, poverty reduction and urbanisation from each other. These issues pose fundamental challenges to the BRICS societies, especially those that still have large rural populations. The experience of the other BRICS countries is useful in highlighting the role of the government in managing the urban transition to lift people out of poverty by strengthening national economies through concentrated activity and efficient infrastructure.





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