BRICS countries sign Moscow Declaration on multilateral science projects

BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - have agreed for co-investment of resources for supporting multilateral research and development projects in mutually agreed areas. They also agreed on the establishment of a BRICS Research and Innovation Networking Platform.

The Indian delegation led by the union minister for science and technology and earth sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan, signed the joint declaration to this effect at the third meeting of BRICS ministers for science, technology and innovation held at Moscow on 28 October.

The Moscow Declaration reflects the determination of BRICS countries to jointly address common global and regional socio-economic challenges, utilising drivers such as science, technology and innovation (STI), an official release said.

BRICS STI minister agreed on collaboration for cooperation within large research infrastructures, including mega-science projects; coordination of existing large-scale national programmes of BRICS countries; development and implementation of a BRICS framework programme for funding multilateral research projects, technology commercialisation and innovation and establishment of BRICS Research and Innovation Networking Platform.

The ministers also endorsed a BRICS Action Plan 2015-18 on BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation cooperation. The work plan outlines detailed modalities of BRICS collaboration in previously agreed thematic areas such as:

  • Prevention and mitigation of natural disasters led by Brazil;
  • Water resources and pollution treatment led by Russia;
  • Geospatial technology and its application for development led by India; and
  • New and renewable energy and energy efficiency with focus on solid-state lightning led by China. (This work plan also included few new areas for BRICS STI collaboration such as material science including nanotechnology and photonics jointly led by India and Russia);
  • Biotechnology and biomedicine, including human health and neuroscience led by Russia or Brazil;
  • Information technologies and high performance computing led jointly by China and South Africa; and
  • Ocean and polar science and technology led jointly by Brazil and Russia.

The 3rd BRICS S&T ministers meeting endorsed India's proposal to host the BRICS Young Scientist Forum Secretariat in India with India's Department of Science and Technology as coordinating point.

The idea of creation of BRICS Young Scientist Forum for youth engagement was mooted by the Indian prime minister at the sixth BRICS Summit in Brazil in July 2014. India's proactive role in creation of this forum has been noted with interest by the BRICS leaders at the seventh BRICS Summit held in Ufa, Russia in July 2015.

It was also agreed to develop a dedicated website for BRICS Young Scientist Forum with an interactive online component to broadcast opportunities and initiative for young STI community in the BRICS region. To take this initiative forward, India will be hosting a five-day BRICS Young Scientist Conclave at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Bangalore during March 2016 with intent to create BRICS Young Scientists Corps. This event is seeking 50 to 75 young STI delegates from BRICS countries.

The event will allow BRICS youth connectivity and networking to harness their knowledge for resolving common societal challenges through research and innovation and strengthen advancement of skill and research competencies of youth primarily in the age group of 22-35 years drawn from science, engineering other allied disciplines.

As outlined in the BRICS Action Plan 2015-16, a series of scientific events will be organised in 2015-16. These include:

  • BRICS Working Group on Geospatial Technology Application for Development (March 2016, India);
  • Second meeting of the BRICS SSL Working Group (November 2015, China);
  • First meeting of the BRICS Astronomy Working Group (December 2015); and
  • Annual conference `Innovative materials for energy and water saving and environmental protection, new trends in the technological development' (Russia).