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BRICS science ministers create policymaking forum

The science ministers of five of the world’s fastest growing economies will create a joint forum later this year.

The forum will be a platform for ministers of science from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—a grouping known as the BRICS—to discuss joint science programmes.

“It will oversee and initiate science programmes,” says Mmboneni Muofhe, the deputy director general of international cooperation and resources for South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The forum, which probably will operate like the African Ministerial Congress on Science and Technology (AMCOST), plans to hold annual meetings to discuss joint science programmes. The first will be held in India later this year.

AMCOST is a policymaking forum for African science ministers that meets every two years. Its achievements include creating the consolidated plan of action, a continental blueprint for science development.

News of the forum came during the fifth BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa on 26-27 March. Senior science officials from the five countries met on the eve of the summit. For the first time the summit declaration included a section on science cooperation.

“Initially the primary focus was on trade and business issues but now science is among other areas receiving attention. The group realises that science is critical in growing economies,” says Muofhe.

The summit also agreed to establish a BRICS development bank.