Global Alternatives 2024
BRICS+: The Path to a New World Order

The original international collaboration between the large and growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China has evolved and expanded. 

Its initial inclusion of South Africa contributed significantly to affording a voice for the vast continent of Africa (our common homeland, and the origin of our species-being). Its current members now also include Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates; BRICS+ now represents nearly 3.64 billion people who constitute approximately 45.78 percent of the world's population. 

South Africa’ Minister of International Relations and Cooperation recently revealed that at least 34 other countries have indicated their interest in joining the voluntary political association that is BRICS+. It is therefore already a voice for a significant portion of the global majority, i.e. most of the people occupying our planet, and could soon be even larger; hopefully it will be a byte louder too.

BRICS+ operates within a very turbulent period in world history as the economic weight of the collective West continues to decline. The group currently accounts for approximately “36 per cent of global GDP, and 25 per cent of world trade, measured in terms of exports” (Holtzmann, 2024). The resilience of the BRICS and its evolution into BRICS+ also presents further evidence against the ill-informed narrative of the end of history and the false triumphalism of globalised neoliberal capitalism. 

Drawing upon these empirical facts, I would like to contribute some ideas regarding the emergence of the new world order and the role of BRICS+. I have organised these along three vectors: plausibility, possibility, and probability.

The plausibility of the BRICS+ advancing the new world order has increased as the existing hegemony, and the unilateralism of the group of seven highly industrialised and mature capitalist economies in our contemporary conjuncture, comes under widening criticism and deepening polycrises. The so-called ‘rule-based’ system that apparently followed the end of the Second World War has been exposed in its hypocrisies and biases. 

It will prove extremely difficult to return to the previous world order, as its legitimacy and support dwindles in the face of the realities experienced by the global majority. Even within the G7 countries, their domestic majorities are confronting the inequities of combined and uneven development that have witnessed an expansion in poverty and underdevelopment while a privileged minority thrives.

The probability of the BRICS+ fulfilling the expectations and demands of the global majority is, however, neither automatic nor predetermined. Rather, the cooperation and collaborations between the BRICS+ nation have generated goodwill and increased people-to-people opportunities through programmes and initiatives such as the successful World Youth Festival recently hosted by Russia. These offer seed-crystal potential that could over the next few decades radically alter world systems.

Valdai - New Generation: Seeing the Future Is Difficult, but Let Us Try
What will the world look like in 2040? What new values does the younger generation offer? What is technological progress – a danger or an opportunity? Will people become “hamsters” and “cockroaches” for artificial intelligence? This was discussed by the participants of the Valdai Club workshops, held as part of the first Youth Conference of the Club on March 3–4 at the site of the World Youth Festival.
Club events

By working together, the BRICS+ nations have shown that multipolarity can work, notwithstanding differences amongst them. This has been achieved while those adhering and aligning with unipolar efforts at enforcing homogeneity flounder amid the realities of an international political economy in flux. The global CoVID-19 pandemic and vaccine apartheid showed the world that the current hegemonic forces in world affairs are only interested in their own interests, and that the profitability of their transnational corporations trumped saving people’s lives. 

We are at this time also witnessing genocide in praxis as the present government of the United States of America fails to adhere to both General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on conflicts in west Asia and in Palestine in particular. With death tolls expanding and precarity rising, we cannot continue to claim to be United as Nations. Many of the BRICS+ countries are playing a leading role in seeking a sustainable resolution to the catastrophe, or at least halting the devastation. 

Some amongst the BRICS+ members have made significant contributions towards reforming, and even transforming some of the institutions of global governance. The current array of institutional apparatuses such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, and the various agencies of the United Nations have already gained geriatric status as they age beyond the 65-year-old threshold. Notwithstanding continental and regional variations, the median age of the world population is estimated at less than half that age, or approximately 30.7 years old. The median age in Africa is 18.8 years. Addressing this chasm and enabling inter-generational work across the BRICS + countries significantly enhances the possibilities for consolidating multipolarity and enabling pathways towards better futures for all. 

To conclude, while it is important to remain critical and forge perspectives which reject that which fails to serve our collective interests, it is also absolutely imperative to consolidate our views about what we actually want from the new world order.

Rather than only being against the collective West, BRICS+ stands to gain significantly from articulating a vision of the new multipolar world order. Realising a better world for all is within the grasp of the BRICS+ and will be constructed through the efforts and initiatives of the people and institutions that constitute the association. 

Transcending narrow economics, and intersecting with the wider domains of society, culture, and governance will become increasingly more necessary as the current hegemonic arrangements falter and fail. Our success at the level of our species-being has allowed us to expand beyond 8 billion people. This has most essentially been driven by the deployment of the capacities and capabilities which we have constructed through learning and the intergenerational transmission of knowledge. 

BRICS+ must confront all efforts which seek to capture, enclose, and expropriate the global knowledge commons for the exclusive benefit of the few. Learning from and with each other, should prove to be our best strategy for resilience, in both thoughts and deeds: contributing to resolving the various polycrises prevalent in contemporary world systems.

Forward to the Future: Between Fear and Hope
The Valdai Club youth conference on March 5 consisted of three thematic sessions and an open discussion. As during the closed-door workshops held on March 3–4, which you can read about here, the participants in the open session were guided by the image of the future presented in the new Valdai Club report “Charting the 2040: Younger Generation Insight on the World in the Making.”
Club events
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.