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

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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 More details

Photo of Rosalind Eyben More details

IDS staff or research student More details

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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. 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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Civil Society from the BRICS: Emerging Roles in the New International Development Landscape

IDS Evidence Report 173 (2016)

There is a burgeoning literature on the (re)emergence of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – as significant actors in international development. To date, however, most attention has focused on the government-to-government relations established through state-led South–South Development Cooperation (SSDC) and the BRICS’ engagements in multilateral processes. More details


China’s Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with Africa

IDS Policy Briefing 111 (2016)

Convened in South Africa in December 2015, the 6th Meeting of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) culminated in the Johannesburg Action Plan under the theme ‘China–Africa Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development’. More details


Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development: Learning Events 2015

IDS Evidence Report 170 (2016)

This report provides an overview of the objectives of and discussions held at two learning events held by the IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme/Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development in 2015. More details


A Prognosis and Diagnosis for China and the 2016 G20: The Politics of a New Global Economic Geography

IDS Evidence Report 169 (2016)

The early Chinese Communist regime depicted T’ao Ch’ien as a people’s poet, an ascetic recluse who embraced poverty and a peasant’s life. In fact, he rose as high as provincial governor, and his verses about labour, poverty and gallons of wine were often metaphors. More details


The Role of Business in Driving and Shaping Renewable Energy Policies in China

IDS Evidence Report 166 (2016)

This report investigates the role of business actors in shaping China’s renewable energy policy process and governance. It finds that with the tremendous growth of renewable industry over the past two decades, a new government–business coalition is taking shape in China. More details


Businesses from the Rising Powers: Traditional or Progressive Development Partners for Africa?

IDS Evidence Report 156 (2015)

Expectations about the role of businesses as development actors have become almost unrecognisable from the ones summarised by Milton Friedman: ‘The only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’ (Friedman 1970). Despite Friedman’s relative abruptness, the role of business in contributing to the overall economic growth of a given country cannot be overstated. More details

Non-IDS publication

Reorganising Global Value Chains and Building Innovation Capabilities in Brazil and India

Research Policy 44.7 (2015)

This paper is concerned with global shifts in innovation power. It shows that Brazil and India are accumulating significant innovation capabilities. Most explanations concentrate on factors within these rising powers. This paper concentrates on explanatory factors which have their origin in the old powers (Europe and USA). More details

This is the front cover to IDS Policy Briefing 103, 'Trilateral Cooperation on
Trade and Investment: Implications for African Industrialisation'.

Trilateral Cooperation on Trade and Investment: Implications for African Industrialisation

IDS Policy Briefing 103 (2015)

Africa’s trade and investment relations with China and the UK has changed drastically over the last few decades, especially with Chinese economic growth. However, while economic openness, trade and investment appear to have come hand-in-hand with poverty reduction in the rise of the “Asian Tigers” and, recently, in China itself, the links appear, so far, to be less clear in sub-Saharan Africa. More details


Do Businesses from the BRICS Contribute to Development in Africa?

IDS Policy Briefing 102 (2015)

As businesses from emerging economies become more globalised, expectations are raised about their role as responsible corporate citizens and development actors when operating in low-income countries. More details


China’s Emergence as a Global Recycling Hub – What Does it Mean for Circular Economy Approaches Elsewhere?

IDS Evidence Report 146 (2015)

This Evidence Report investigates how China’s rise as a global recycling hub affects other countries’ prospects for moving towards a circular economy. This question has received little, if any, attention in the burgeoning literature on sustainability. More details


Mutual Learning for Change: An Assessment of the SIA Programme of the Rising Powers Programme

IDS Evidence Report 147 (2015)

The Senior International Associates (SIA) programme is part of the Rising Powers in International Development programme at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), under which senior policy actors in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), specifically India, China and Brazil, have come to IDS to advance mutual learning since 2012. More details


Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details


Is Indian Development Cooperation Taking a New Direction Under Modi?

IDS Policy Briefing 94 (2015)

Rising powers such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are taking independent stands and changing the discourse on development cooperation in international fora. India has played a key role in driving this, most recently contributing to the establishment of the BRICS Development Bank and being nominated to host its first presidency. More details


Who Drives Climate-relevant Policies in Brazil?

IDS Evidence Report 132 (2015)

In this report, the central question of our research is who drives/obstructs climate-relevant policies in Brazil, paying special attention to renewable energy policies, climate policies and politics. More details


National Development Banks in the BRICS: Lessons for the Post-2015 Development Finance Framework

IDS Policy Briefing 93 (2015)

In 2015, the framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be agreed. As described in the outcome document of the United Nations Rio+20 conference, The Future We Want, the mobilisation and effective use of stable, sufficient and suitable development finance must be a crucial part of this framework. More details


China’s Development Finance: Ambition, Impact and Transparency

IDS Policy Briefing 92 (2015)

In a context of lagging reform in the Bretton Woods institutions, China has brought the debate on its role as a rising power in global economic governance onto the front pages, notably with the divided response of ‘the West’ to membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is to be headquartered in Beijing. More details

This is the cover to IDS Rapid Reponse Briefing 9, 'Understanding The Rising Powers' Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals'.

Understanding The Rising Powers' Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 9 (2015)

Rising powers such as Brazil, India and China have been criticised for being obstructive in the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. More details


Is China’s Role in African Fragile States Exploitative or Developmental?

IDS Policy Briefing 91 (2015)

China’s increasing engagement in Africa has generated heated debates over the extent to which its activities are exploitative or developmental. More details


China’s Engagement in International Development Cooperation: The State of the Debate

IDS Evidence Report 116 (2015)

This research aims to investigate the recent evolution of China’s discourse on development and aid. More precisely, how do China’s policymakers and influential scholars understand and debate China’s role in the field of international development aid, specifically in the context of China as a ‘rising power’? More details


Rising Powers in International Development: Learning Events 2014

IDS Evidence Report 115 (2015)

This report provides an overview of the objectives of and discussions held at three learning events held by the IDS Rising Powers in International Development programme in 2014. More details