Let me begin by thanking South Africa and Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor personally, for hosting us today at Capetown, this beautiful Indo-Atlantic city. A BRICS meeting is an important event in our diplomatic calendar, and more so, at a time when the international situation is challenging.
The global environment today, demands that we, the BRICS nations, approach key contemporary issues seriously, constructively and collectively. Our gathering must send out a strong message that the world is multipolar, that it is rebalancing, and that old ways cannot address new situations. We are a symbol of change and must act accordingly.
This responsibility is even greater as we contemplate the devastating after effects of the Covid pandemic, the stresses arising from conflict, and the economic distress of the Global South. They underline the deep shortcomings of the current international architecture which does not reflect today’s politics, economics, demographics or indeed aspirations. For two decades, we have heard calls for reform of multilateral institutions, only to be continuously disappointed. It is therefore, imperative that BRICS Members demonstrate sincerity in regard to reforming global decision making, including that of the UN Security Council.
At the heart of the problems we face, is economic concentration that leaves too many nations at the mercy of too few. This may be in regard to production, resources, services or connectivity. Recent experiences impacting health, energy and food security only highlight this fragility. India undertook the Voice of the Global South exercise to place these issues before the G20. We urge that BRICS give it particular consideration and promote the economic decentralization that is so essential to political democratization.
Among the key threats to international peace and security is that of terrorism. All nations must take resolute measures against this menace, including its financing and propaganda. It must be combated in all its forms and manifestations and never be condoned under any circumstances.
The United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Encouraging climate resilient and nutritious grain production, will surely enhance global food security. The Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) initiative, tabled by India, is another important step towards sustainability that the BRICS should support.
Our meeting will also be considering the comprehensive institutional development of BRICS. We approach that exercise in a positive spirit and with an open mind. The level of interest in this grouping is a matter of satisfaction and a testimony of our growing influence. For that very reason, decisions we take have far reaching consequences. They will also enhance our mutually beneficial cooperation in the times to come.
We have today many crucial issues to deliberate upon. And we will do so in the spirit of equality, mutual respect and complete consensus, that is the hallmark of BRICS.
I look forward to our discussions.