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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Development Banks from the BRICS

IDS Evidence Report 111 (2015)

The BRIC acronym was created at the beginning of the 2000s to represent a group of four fast-growing economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and was changed to BRICS in December 2010 with the inclusion of South Africa. More details

IDS Policy Briefing 84 Front Cover

Realising the Potential of Civil Society-led South-South Development Cooperation

IDS Policy Briefing 84 (2015)

Civil Society Organisations from the BRICS countries and Mexico are leading a huge range of South-South Development Cooperation (SSDC) initiatives. More details

ER96 Front Cover

Advisory Council Seminar VI, 7 July 2014: IDS Rising Powers in International Development Advisory Council Discussion

IDS Evidence Report 96 (2014)

This document presents a summary of a discussion held on 7 July 2014 between members of the Advisory Council of the IDS Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) programme and IDS RPID staff members. The discussion was held at the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton. More details

PB75 Front Cover

Understanding China’s Approaches to International Development

IDS Policy Briefing 75 (2014)

China’s impressive economic growth and increasing development activities overseas, particularly in the African continent, have spurred intense debate and criticism over its role as a rising power in international development. More details

ER95 Front Cover

Indian Development Cooperation: the State of the Debate

IDS Evidence Report 95 (2014)

In this changing landscape, India is becoming an important player . India’s increased volume of development cooperation or DC (particularly to African countries), its clearer articulation of a rejection of ‘traditional’ aid principles, and its growing role as a representative of emerging economies that aim to act as a bridge between the North and South have led to it becoming a key figure in shaping the future of international DC. How is this new role being perceived domestically? More details

IDS publications on international development research

Agricultural Development and Food Security in Africa: The Impact of Chinese, Indian and Brazilian Investments

Journal of Agrarian Change 14.4 (2014)

The frenzy mirrors the growing stature of the likes of China, India or Brazil in the world economy and their mounting influence in global governance. More details


Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

ER93 Front Cover

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

IDS Evidence Report 93 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 91 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 88 (2014)

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 Economic Times of India (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 70 (2014)

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

IDS Bulletin 45.4 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 83 (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 69 (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 66 (2014)

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

IDS Evidence Report 59 (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 64 (2014)

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

IDS Policy Briefing 59 (2014)

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