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The 2nd BRICS Urbanization Forum and the BRICS Friendship Cities Forum ended on Friday in Durban.
BRICS cities, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Mumbai (India), Durban (South Africa) and Qingdao (China) were represented in the meet by respective mayors.
These cities are at the forefront of reform and industrialization in the BRICS, facing common challenges. Both Brazil and China have lifted millions of people out of poverty but have struggled with the resultant internal migration into cities.
“The conference was huge success. We managed to exchange notes on how to deal with urbanization. We looked at the different models used by different BRICS countries and learnt from each other’s experiences,” an official of the KwZulu Nata government said.
Lechesa Tsenoli, South Africa’s Minister of Cooperative governance said urbanization for the BRICS have huge challenges.
“An urban policy cannot be developed nor implemented in isolation of a rural policy. To do so is a mistake. India’s recognition of the rural access to modern systems provides interesting examples that needs further consideration. South Africa is a macrocosm of Russia, India, Brazil and China,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The meet also focused on developing smaller BRICS towns so that people do not flock to big cities.
South African official Nomusa Dube-Ncube says the African nation can learn a lot from its partners in BRICS.
“We need to learn from each other in terms of how to deal with rural migration to urban areas. We also need to look at issues of development, infrastructure and job creation,” he urged.
BRICS pledged to “coordinate efforts and learn from best practices and technologies that can make a meaningful difference to our societies. Undertake to further the debates within cities and other levels of government on the key levers to build productive and sustainable cities and towns within socially and economically inclusive urban spaces,” said a joint declaration.
BRICS also resolved to cooperate on strengthening ways to fight corruption and promote transparency and accountability.
The Friendship Cities and Local Government Forum is a platform for the exchange of information, best practices and peer-learning among BRICS cities.
The four cities of Rio de Janeiro, Saint Petersburg, Mumbai and Qingdao established a partnership in 2008. Durban subsequently joined the forum with South Africa’s accession to BRICS.
The BRICS Post