BRICS and Rising Powers

Globally and politically, the influence of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is rapidly increasing. These countries bring together five major emerging economies, comprising 43% of the world population, having 30% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade. They have been engaged in official and non-official development cooperation for decades, but their role as development actors has only recently been acknowledged by the development community.

Sven Torfinn / Panos. Food warehouse storage in Mali. BRICS image.

These rising powers, once predominantly regarded as aid recipient countries, are now becoming more active as donors in their own right, raising important issues for debates on the future of international development cooperation.

Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development

The Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development (CRPD) draws together work from across IDS and the University of Sussex campus and works with partners across the world.

CRPD is at the forefront of research and practical analysis that helps connect governments, donors, civil society, and academia to explore new way to address global development challenges, with a particular focus on the BRICS and other increasingly influential middle-income countries.

The centre builds on earlier IDS work on the BRICS and other rising powers, including:

  • The Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) Programme – one of IDS' flagship programmes, launched in 2012 to understand the role of the BRICS and other regional powers in international development.
  • The Rising Powers and International Development Eldis Resource Guide - launched under the RPID programme, this guide contains 1,300 free resources and grey literature on the topic, drawing on the work of a number of organisations based in the BRICS countries and beyond.
  • The IDS BRICS Initiative marked the launch of a partnership between IDS and academics, research institutes and civil society in the BRICS countries to establish a conceptual framework and common methodology to study the emergence of the BRICS.
  • Brazil and China in Africa – the Future Agricultures Consortium is examining how the rising powers are changing agricultural development in Africa, and the Globalisation team are exploring China's approach to governance, development and state-building in Africa's fragile states.
  • Building Russia's capacity as a donor – IDS is providing teaching and training courses on development aid to Russian academic institutions.
Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Anuradha Joshi, IDS researcher More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Photo of Hayley MacGregor More details

Photo of Hubert Schmitz from Green Transformations Cluster More details

Photo of Jennifer Constantine More details

Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow More details

Photo of Jing Gu More details

Lidia Cabral photo More details

Photo of Lizbeth Navas-Aleman More details

Photo of Louise Oakley More details

Rômulo Paes de Sousa, Director of the World Centre for Sustainable Development, the Rio+ Centre and Senior International Associate with the IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme More details

Photo of Rosalind Eyben More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Sohela Nazneen More details

Professor Xuilan Zhang, Senior International Associate with the Rising Powers in International Development programme and Director, Institute of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University. More details

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Advisory Council and Network Development

The RPID Programme aims to provide high-level guidance on key debates in international development policy and on how IDS and its partner organisations can best influence these debates through research and other activittes. More details

Brazil and International Development Cooperation

Brazil is a founding member of the BRICS group, Latin America's largest economy and the world's sixth-largest economy. The Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) programme is looking at Brazil's growing role in the field of international development cooperation. More details

BRICS Economic Engagement Footprint Study

This project investigated the nature of economic relations between the BRICS and Africa, in order to quantify the development footprint, focusing on various elements such as trade, investment. finance, ODA and migration. The current phase aims to look at development finance and the role of BRICS development banks. More details

Business from the BRICS

The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of business from the BRICS countries in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Changing Knowledge Divide in the Global Economy

The question driving this project was how was the 'organisational decomposition of the innovation process' (ODIP) changing the global distribution of innovation activities. More details

China and Brazil in African Agriculture

The question of how Brazil, China and other 'rising powers' may change African agricultural development is critical and timely. More details

China and International Development Cooperation

China is now the African continent's biggest trading partner, and also involved in a wide range of development cooperation projects including in agriculture, health and social policy. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of China in the field of international development cooperation. More details

China-UK Cooperation on African Trade and Investment for Poverty Reduction

This IDS led project aims to evaluate changing trade and investment relations between China, and also the UK, with Kenya and South Africa and the consequences of these changes. More details

Civil society and the BRICS

The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of civil society from the BRICS countries in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Development Studies Learning Partnership

The Development Studies Learning Partnership was created under the BRICS Initiative in 2011, and enables collaborative learning between traditional and emerging actors in development, be they academics, researchers, practitioners or policy-makers. More details

DFID Country Programme Evaluation - Evaluation of DFID China Programme

An evaluation of DFID's China Country Programme, assessing the country strategy, links to poverty outcomes and DFID's corporate objectives. More details

European Development Co-operation to 2020

Multi-institutional study of the challenges for European development cooperation in the period up to 2020. IDS research will focus on new actors in international development. More details

Future Agricultures Consortium

The DFID funded Future Agricultures Consortium is an Africa-based alliance of research organisations seeking to provide timely, high-quality and independent information and advice to improve agricultural policy and practice in Africa. More details

Future Health Systems Research Programme Consortium

Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. More details

Global Brands from China?

A comparative study of the acquisition of branding capabilities in domestic and global value chains. More details

Global Power Shift and Low Carbon Transformation

Two transformations are likely to dominate the first half of the twenty-first century. One is the shift in economic power from the West (North America and Western Europe) to the East (China and the East Asian production system). The second is the transition from a high to low carbon economy. More details

India and International Development Cooperation

Trade and investment linkages between India and the African continent have been growing rapidly, and recently, its role providing foreign assistance has become more prominent. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of India in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Political Economy of Low Carbon Investment in China and India

This project investigates whether and how coalitions of public, private and civic actors influence low carbon investment. More details

Rising Powers Young Researchers Network (RP-YOUR)

Initially bringing together PhD students and early-career researchers exploring the role of rising powers in international development from across IDS and the University of Sussex, the Rising Powers-Young Researchers Network seeks to expand within Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development global networks. More details

Russia and International Development Cooperation

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was redefined as an aid recipient, but in 2007, it officially signalled its intention to reverse this role. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of Russia in the field of international development cooperation More details

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Non-IDS publication

From Policy Transfer to Mutual Learning? Political Recognition, Power and Process in the Emerging Landscape of International Development Cooperation

This paper explores the implications of this for international policy diffusion in the age of "universal" development envisaged by the UN's Agenda 2030. More details

ER218_FrontCover

China–UK–Africa Trilateral Cooperation on Trade and Investment: Prospects and Challenges for Partnership for Africa’s Development

IDS Evidence Report 218 (2017)

This study was conducted in the context of the China–UK Cooperation on African Trade and Investment for Poverty Reduction. It focuses on the evolution of bilateral relations between China and the UK towards trilateral relations with Africa and on building a framework for future cooperation. More details

PB127_FrontCover

Strengthening International Disaster Risk Reduction through Collaboration with China

IDS Policy Briefing 127 (2016)

Natural disasters hit developing countries particularly hard. Worldwide, the incidence and intensity of such disasters remain substantial. More details

The BRICS in International Development book cover from Palgrave Macmillan website (http://www.palgrave.com/de/book/9781137556455)

The BRICS in International Development

This book offers a comprehensive comparative perspective on the increasingly significant development cooperation activities of the BRICS. Providing a powerful set of insights into the drivers for engagement within each country, it brings together leading experts from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and OECD countries. More details

IDS Policy Briefing 123 Front Cover

Towards Mutual Learning with the Rising Powers

IDS Policy Briefing 123 (2016)

Mutual learning is emerging as a new way of talking about the ‘how’ of development cooperation, particularly in contexts of rapid change, with countries increasingly recognising that they have much to learn from each other’s experience. More details

Front cover of IDS Evidence Report 202

Building Mutual Learning between the Rising Powers

IDS Evidence Report 202 (2016)

This Evidence Report provides a summary account of the Mutual Learning research initiative at the Institute of Development Studies, carried out from 2012 to 2014 as part of the Rising Powers in International Development programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Brazil’s Tropical Solutions for Africa: Tractors, Matracas and the Politics of ‘Appropriate Technology

The European Journal of Development Research 28.3 (2016)

This article focusses on mechanical farming technology sponsored by Brazil's South-South cooperation in Africa. Tractors and matracas are taken as symbols of different agricultural development pathways promoted by Brazilian players. More details

PB121_FrontCover

Can China’s Bold New Plans Make the Difference in Pakistan?

IDS Policy Briefing 121 (2016)

Ever since the 1955 Bandung Conference of Afro-Asian states, China has been active in civil engineering projects around the world, especially in Africa, as a sign of its commitment to the world emerging from colonialism. More details

ER196_FrontCover

A New Era for China’s Renewable Energy Development? External Shocks, Internal Struggles and Policy Changes

IDS Evidence Report 196 (2016)

As the world’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) polluter, China’s annual emissions accounted for almost 30 per cent of the world’s total emissions in 2014 – more than the United States (15 per cent) and the European Union (10 per cent) combined. More details

ER193_FrontCover

Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development: Training Course on International Development and Global Health Strategy

IDS Evidence Report 193 (2016)

The Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development delivers intensive training courses for government officials and development professionals to explore the theories, policies and practices of international development cooperation, particularly relating to the growing role of the rising powers in global development. More details

PB119_FrontCover

Understanding the BRICS Evolving Influence and Role in Global Governance and Development

IDS Policy Briefing 119 (2016)

The BRICS Summit process was inaugurated in 2009 as a signal that the global governance system of the future would need to be constituted to reflect a politically diverse, multipolar world. At this same moment, the crisis-driven creation of the G20 Leaders forum put the evolution of such a new global governance system on fast forward. More details

PB115_FrontCover

Rising Powers, Lowering Emissions?

IDS Policy Briefing 115 (2016)

The importance of ensuring that African countries can meet their rising energy needs in a low-carbon way that also benefits the poor, is widely accepted. The so-called ‘rising powers’, such as China, Brazil and India are already investing in energy infrastructure in Africa. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Brazil’s Agricultural Politics in Africa: More Food International and the Disputed Meanings of ‘family farming'.

World Development 81 (2016)

Brazil's influence in agricultural development in Africa has become noticeable in recent years. South–South cooperation is one of the instruments for engagement, and affinities between Brazil and African countries are invoked to justify the transfer of technology and public policies. More details

image for non-ids publications

A New Politics of Development Cooperation? Chinese and Brazilian Engagements in African Agriculture

World Development 81 (2016)

The paper asks if a new paradigm for development cooperation is emerging, and argues that we must move beyond the simplistic narratives of either 'South–South' collaboration or “neo-imperial” expansion of “rising powers” to look at the dynamic and contested politics of engagement, as new forms of capital and technology enter African contexts. More details

ER189_FrontCover

The BRICS in International Development: The New Landscape

IDS Evidence Report 189 (2016)

This Evidence Report provides a summary account of the role of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in shaping the current global development landscape. More details

PB113_FrontCover

What Can the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Learn from Other Development Banks?

IDS Policy Briefing 113 (2016)

Global development has reached a critical turning point. In addition to achieving middle-income status, several recipient countries are now also becoming donors and lenders to other developing countries. China in particular has rapidly expanded its development finance programme and launched new multilateral initiatives. More details

ER187_FrontCover

China as a Development Actor in Southeast Asia

IDS Evidence Report 187 (2016)

This Evidence Report identifies and explains the central factors driving China’s policies towards Southeast Asia. It examines China’s foreign relations through the perspective of foreign policy. In this context, as the title indicates, the report gathers together and evaluates the evidence on China’s role as a development actor in this neighbouring region. More details

ER184_FrontCover

Report of a High-level Roundtable on Rising Powers and Global Development, and Launch of the Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development

IDS Evidence Report 184 (2016)

This high-level roundtable meeting, held on 22 April 2015, was co-hosted by the Institute of Development Studies, the Development Research Center of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, and the China International Development Research Network. More details

ER180_FrontCover

Who Drives Climate-relevant Policies in the Rising Powers?

IDS Evidence Report 180 (2016)

The future of human life on our planet is influenced increasingly by what goes on in the rising powers. This report presents a political economy analysis of their policies, comparing China, India, Brazil and South Africa. More details

ER179_FrontCover

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: What Can It Learn From, and Perhaps Teach To, the Multilateral Development Banks?

IDS Evidence Report 179 (2016)

A striking phenomenon of recent global economic change is the emergence of new development actors, with alternative development experiences and development financing capacity. These actors are now creating collective institutional capacity with the aim of contributing to other countries’ development. They are also increasingly influencing the path of global development. More details

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