This week, Brazil, Russia, India and China — dubbed the BRIC nations — held their first leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg. The web of bilateral connections among these four emerging powers is intense, with presidential summits a routine occurence. This quadrilateral format was the first for heads of state, however.
Perhaps predictably for a group that has such divergent interests, not much concrete came of the first BRIC meeting. Nevertheless, surely all the leaders — especially Russia — enjoyed the symbolism of the moment.
It doesn’t particularly matter, but I can’t help but think that the motivation for this meeting must have originated during the Bush Administration, which all but dared these countries to unite to oppose American interests. As it happens, they made some vague calls for a monetary system diversified away from the dollar, but that was about it.
These pivotal powers are at a privileged point in their evolution — they are not wealthy or influential enough for the world’s citizens to expect them to solve serious problems. And yet they are increasingly powerful and can increasingly demand, and deserve, a greater voice in global decision-making.
But this time will pass and, because they are emerging or re-emerging in an era when technology has made this planet very small, their summits will soon be marked by protestors demanding all variety of actions and commentators expressing disappointment that nothing got done, again. They would do well to take bold responsibility for the common good before that time comes. For starters, let’s see if China and India agree to targets for emissions reductions later this year in Copenhagen…
– Nina Hachigian