Speech by President of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, during the BRICS and Friends of BRICS Dialogue, in Johannesburg, South Africa

I would like to congratulate President Ramaphosa for dedicating this debate to BRICS’ partnership with the Global South and particularly with Africa.

It’s time to revitalize cooperation among developing countries.

We are presently seeing the emergence of new challenges adding to long-standing problems.

While working to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we were hit by a pandemic, by new conflicts and by a severe climate emergency.

When adopted, the 2030 Agenda charted a course towards a better future.

Today, half of the goals are behind schedule – and stagnation or retrogression hit almost a third of them.

Food insecurity has regressed to 2005 levels.

In many places democracy is threatened by extremism or corroded by xenophobia.

And once again in history we are facing the risk of nuclear war.

The world has moved backwards.

Many of the answers we are seeking to build a more equitable world are in Africa.

Covid-19 claimed millions of lives, but – despite unjustifiable obstacles in its access to vaccines – Africa’s death rates are low.

As security concerns increasingly limit technology sharing, the African Union has launched a digital transformation strategy, and hundreds of startups and innovation hubs have emerged in Africa.

As unilateral measures that threaten the integrity of the trade regime proliferate, the African continent is becoming the world’s largest free trade area – harboring 1.3 billion people and a combined USD 3.4 trillion GDP.

As multilateral bodies fail to respond to threats to peace, the African Union has taken on an increasingly important role in conflict resolution.

On the one hand, exclusionary alliances are reemerging and intensifying tensions; on the other, African and Latin American countries are uniting to preserve the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic.

Just as in other regions, however, the great constraints imposed on developing countries are also evident in Africa.

The promises of globalization have not been fulfilled.

Today, many nations are hampered by unpayable debts.

In recent years, the volume of resources directed to countries in the Global South via trade and investment has been decreasing.

Most of the developing world depends on exporting commodities – but this demand is volatile – and on importing basic necessities whose prices have soared.

Meanwhile, financial institutions impose high interest rates and conditions that narrow the space for State action.

It’s impossible to promote sustainable development if the public budget is consumed by paying debts.

Tackling climate change offers us an opportunity to rethink finance, trade and development models.

The energy transition must not reedit the exploitation relationship of the colonial past.

We need solutions that diversify and add value to production in developing countries.

The clearest sign that the planet is becoming an even more unequal place is increasing hunger and poverty.

This is unacceptable. Despite their magnitude, these problems are not addressed with the urgency they deserve.

Emissions by the richest 1% of the world’s population are 100 times greater than emissions by the poorest 50%.

As Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai said: “We are very fond of blaming the poor for destroying the environment. But often it is the powerful, including governments, that are responsible.”

There are sustainable ways to increase agricultural productivity, generate income and provide social protection.

This is what we discussed at the Amazon Summit in Belém earlier this month – and what we want to discuss with the countries of the other tropical basins, the Congo and the Borneo-Mekong.

Brazil will assume G20 presidency in December, and wants to place the reduction of inequalities at the center of the international agenda.

We cannot do this without greater representation for Africa. This is why we support the African Union’s entry into G20.

With this trip to South Africa – from where I will head to Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe – I intend to inaugurate a new cooperation agenda between Brazil and Africa.

We are going to resume our universalist vocation and reestablish our historic links with developing countries.

Prosperity is only real and complete when shared.

The presence here of dozens of Global South leaders proves that the world is more complex than the Cold War mentality that some want to restore.

Instead of adhering to the logic of competition – which imposes automatic alignments and fosters distrust –, we must strengthen collaboration between us.

A world with well-being for all is only possible through a more inclusive and solidary international order.


Brasília in Foco