11 March 2013

The South African government has appointed the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to serve as an incubator for the South Africa BRICS Think Tank ahead for an initial period of one year, the HSRC announced last week.

South Africa will be hosting the fifth summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of influential emerging countries in Durban from 25 to 27 March.

Officials from the five countries met in Durban over the weekend for a workshop aimed at mapping a long-term strategy for a mooted consortium of BRICS think tanks. The meeting was co-chaired by HSRC chief executive Dr Olive Shisana and Dr Diane Parker of the Department of Higher Education.

“South Africa is the latest member to join BRICS and is the only one among the member countries that did not have a dedicated think tank until now,” Shisana said in a statement last week.

“The HSRC has been tasked to nurture and grow the SA BRICS Think Tank, which will be operated within the HSRC’s legislated mandate as an independent adviser to government.”

Shisana said the HSRC’s expertise in social policy research made it well-equipped to anchor such a structure and provide support for BRICS-related policy dialogues.

According to the HSRC, the South African BRICS Think Tank will conduct policy research and analysis to help inform the BRICS group’s long-term strategy. It will also provide a forum for discussion among academics, policy makers and non-governmental organisations on the BRICS developmental strategy.

“Scholars will be able to make contributions to government policies and related research projects with the objective of immediate and tangible impacts on the strategic economic, social and geo-political policies of the country,” Shisana said.

The HSRC aimed to co-operate with various local experts and organisations to strengthen and build on its analytical and scholarly capacity in this field.

“This will be crucial to create networks and to stimulate fresh thinking in relation to BRICS and not simply to repeat what others are doing,” Shisana said.