BRICS and Rising Powers

Globally and politically, the influence of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and since 2011, South Africa – is rapidly increasing. 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.

IDS work on the BRICS and rising powers includes:

  • The Rising Powers in International Development Programme – one of IDS' flagship programmes, launched in 2012 to understand the role of the BRICS and other regional powers in international development.
  • 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.
  • The Development Studies Learning Partnership – working with research and teaching institutions in the BRICS countries to co-construct new thinking and resources for teaching and learning within the discipline of development studies.
  • 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

Alex Shankland - Research Fellow

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Anuradha Joshi - Team Leader

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Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow

Deepta Chopra - Research Fellow

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

Gerry Bloom - Research Fellow

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Hayley MacGregor - Research Fellow

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Photo of Hubert Schmitz from Globalisation Team

Hubert Schmitz - Professorial Fellow

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Jennifer Constantine -

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Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow

Jeremy Allouche - Research Fellow

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Photo of Jing Gu

Jing Gu - Research Fellow

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Photo of Jodie Thorpe, Globalisation research fellow

Jodie Thorpe - Research Fellow

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Photo of John Humphrey, IDS Globalisation Team Research Fellow

John Humphrey - Professorial Fellow

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Lidia Cabral photo

Lidia Cabral - DPhil candidate

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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.

Xiulan Zhang - Senior International Associate

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Ricardo Santos - PhD Researcher

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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

Rômulo Paes de Sousa - Senior International Associate

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Rosalind Eyben - Professorial Fellow

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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

ARCADE HSSR: African Regional Capacity Development for Health Systems and Services Research

A Consortium led by Karolinska Institutet strengthening research training capacity at Sub Saharan African universities for health systems and services development. Focusing on doctoral and post doctoral training, institutional strengthening for education and research management. 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 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 Low Carbon Platform

A new knowledge-sharing web platform supporting an international network for low carbon energy and low carbon development in China. More details

China-Africa Development Prospects and Perspectives

The study aimed to generate knowledge on what is the best way that Africa can benefit from China's strong economic engagement with the continent. More details

China's Private Sector Investment and the Investment Climate in Africa

Based on extensive fieldwork interviews in China and Africa, this project examines the role of Chinese private enterprises in Africa. 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

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. Through a network of over 90 researchers across the region and around the world, we are showing how agricultural policy in Africa can help to reduce poverty and strengthen agricultural growth. 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

Low Carbon Innovation Paths in China, India and Europe

Mitigating climate change requires technological innovation. This project analyses the innovation paths pursued in Europe and Asia. More details

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ER95 Front Cover

Indian Development Cooperation: the State of the Debate

India’s recent development cooperation activities with the South have provoked global curiosity. Two factors shape this interest. More details

ER93 Front Cover

Senior International Associate Report (Ambuj Sagar): Meeting Multiple Energy Challenges: Lessons from India

The Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) programme includes a provision for drawing on the experience of senior policymakers and policy advisers. This ‘Senior International Associates’ scheme is an effective way of injecting policy experience from the Rising Powers directly into the work of the RPID. More details

ER91 Front Cover

Rising Powers in International Development: the State of the Debate in South Africa

South Africa occupies an interesting position in the international development debate. On the one hand, as Africa’s most developed, diversified and, until recently, largest economy representing close to one-third of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), it is an active player in numerous global governance and development fora. More details

ER88 Front Cover

The Russian Federation’s International Development Assistance Programme: A State of the Debate Report

Russia is unique among emerging donors for being a ‘re-emerging’ donor: the Soviet Union was one of the largest donor countries in the world, and Russia’s period as an aid recipient was relatively brief. Russian development cooperation is driven by key security and economic priorities, as well as resulting from commitments made to multilateral organisations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Banking on a New World Order

The establishment of a BRICS bank may see a geopolitical shift from developed countries to developing ones. More details

PB70 Front Cover

Learning from India's Development Cooperation

In recent years, India has substantially increased the levels of its development cooperation. It has streamlined its development cooperation activities and put the principles of South-South Cooperation, including respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, non-conditionality and mutual benefit, into action. More details

This is the cover image for the IDS Bulletin, 'China and International Development: Challenges and Opportunities'.

China and International Development: Challenges and Opportunities

In parallel to its domestic economic boom, China has grown increasingly active and influential on the international stage, including in global development. China’s re-emergence on the global stage is both a cause and a symptom of the fundamental sea change now affecting development assistance and policy. More details

ER83 Front Cover

Brazil Public Opinion Monitor: Causes of Poverty Survey Results

The Brazil Public Opinion Monitor (BPOM) is a longitudinal panel of 2,672 opinion leaders from across Brazil. It aims to provide an ongoing monitor of opinions and perspectives on the economic and social development of Brazil, and on Brazil’s place in the wider world. More details

PB69 Front Cover

Five Fingers or One Hand? The BRICS in Development Cooperation

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are increasingly prominent in development cooperation activities in low-income countries in Africa and worldwide, presenting a potential alternative to the development aid model of traditional donors. More details

PB66 Front Cover

Building Mutual Understanding for Effective Development

In recent years a number of countries, referred to collectively as the rising powers, have achieved rapid economic growth and increased political influence. In many cases their experience challenges received wisdom on inclusive development. More details

ER59 Front Cover

Brazil's Engagement in International Development Cooperation: The State of the Debate

The international development cooperation architecture has changed dramatically over the last decade. The global context, characterised by a lingering financial crisis and the emergence of new powers, has brought South–South Development Cooperation (SSDC) to the core of international development debate. More details

PB64 Front Cover

Understanding South Africa’s Role in Achieving Regional and Global Development Progress

As Africa’s most diversified, developed and (until recently) largest economy, South Africa occupies a unique position in the international development debate. It is an active player in global governance and development fora, maintains an extensive development partnership with its region, and is a member of the BRICS Forum of emerging powers (along with Brazil, Russia, India and China). More details

PB59 Front Cover

Beyond the New Deal: Global Collaboration and Peacebuilding with BRICS Countries

Development in fragile and conflict-affected contexts is both complex and contested. The New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States, endorsed by 35 countries and six organisations, is the current focus of efforts to harmonise aid approaches. More details

PB56 Front Cover

Brazil’s International Development Cooperation at a Crossroads

The IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme has launched a series of studies of key issues and debates on international development cooperation in BRICS countries, working with leading specialists from each country. This brief outlines the key findings of the ‘State of the Debate’ report on Brazil’s development cooperation policy. More details

PB55 Front Cover

The BRICS and the International Development System: Challenge and Convergence?

The sustained growth of rising powers, including the grouping known as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is reshaping global governance arrangements. Annual BRICS summits and inter-ministerial meetings seek to reform existing international financial and economic institutions and promote a multipolar system of global order. More details

ER 56 Front Cover

Who Shapes Climate Action in India? Insights from the Wind and Solar Energy Sectors

Within this paper, we specifically take an actor-centred perspective – focusing on players not just within the government but also private sector and civil society – to better understand the influence of such actors in shaping climate change action within India. Through this analysis, we aim to explore the underlying domestic political economy as well as the international linkages shaping climate action. More details

This is the cover for IDS Evidence Report 50, 'Advisory Council Seminar 3, 20 March 2013: IDS Rising Powers in International Development Advisory Council Discussion'.

Advisory Council Seminar 3, 20 March 2013: IDS Rising Powers in International Development Advisory Council Discussion

This document presents a summary of a discussion held on 20 March, 2013 between five members of the Advisory Council of the IDS Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) programme and three IDS RPID staff members. More details

Image teaser for ER45

Does China's Economic Rise Help or Hinder the Development of its Neighbours?

With its huge size, vast low-cost labour force, and deep industrial foundation, China has become a major producer of a wide range of manufactured goods. More details

The Economic Engagement Footprint of Rising Powers in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Economic Engagement Footprint of Rising Powers in sub-Saharan Africa: Trade, FDI and Aid Flows

Estimates suggest that over the last decade both trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) from emerging economies to Africa ballooned. More details

Image teaser for ER40

Learning Event on the Rising Powers for DFID Advisors, April-May 2012

The Learning Event brought together colleagues from DFID, IDS, and the BRICS, and aimed to facilitate the sharing and learning of experiences in international development and policy More details

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