Address by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the BRICS-National Youth Consultative Forum hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, O.R. Tambo Building, Friday, 01 November 2013.

Programme Director;
Minister and Deputy Ministers with us today;
Acting Director General;
Deputy Directors General and Senior Managers;
Our Speakers for the day;
Leadership of the NYDA and the South African Youth Council other Youth formations here;
Young Entrepreneurs;
DIRCO staff;
Invited guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;

Today marks the very first BRICS-National Youth Consultative Forum Youth Dialogue in the history of this powerful formation of emerging economies of the south. This Forum is a response to the commitments we made during the 5th BRICS Summit we proudly hosted in March this year.

Please allow me therefore to welcome you to this new episode, as we turn a new leaf in the life of the BRICS Forum for dialogue and cooperation amongst countries that represent 43% of the world’s population.

The BRICS economies, already constitute between 20 and 25 per cent of global GDP, and will link a large part of Africa with the fastest growing economies in the world. This is a journey we cannot afford to traverse without the future of our countries – the youth.

We are gathered here today to give you all the assurance that you can count on our support and custodians of BRICS. We will walk side by side with you towards the realization of the developmental goals you have set ourselves to achieve as the Youth.
Programme Director;

As you may know, the month of October was dedicated to celebrating the live and times of O.R. Tambo. As we usher in the month of November, let us continue to celebrate the values espoused by this very icon of our struggle for freedom and liberation. Let us look at how O.R. Tambo’s values can inspire, guide and enrich this dialogue.   

I have no doubt that you will have some valuable lessons to learn from his teachings.

Programme Director;

The theme for this event is aptly titled: “The Role of BRICS on Youth Development”.  

As a founder member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), issues of youth development occupied a very special place in O.R. Tambo’s heart.

Had he been alive today, he would hold in high esteem the work we continue to do for the development of the youth of this country, Africa, and the world.

Ladies and gentlemen;

To this end, the theme of this event must be seen as a befitting tribute to the youth of South Africa, and to those youth who selflessly offered their services to achieve a truly democratic South Africa, inspired by the values espoused by O.R. Tambo.

It is for this reason that we must continue to remind the youth of today to guard this democracy jealously - lest we betray those who came before us.

Since this forum will focus on international partnerships, my address will focus on the value of partnerships in 21st century, especially for developing nations.

This BRICS-National Youth Consultative Forum is aimed at responding to the many challenges faced by the youth of South Africa and a concerted effort to address them in conjunction with our major international partners as represented in BRICS.

It will be recalled that South Africa joined BRICS in December 2010.  Since then, we have attended and participated in three BRICS Summits as well as the other high level meetings.  South Africa played host to the Fifth BRICS Summit in eThekwini during March 2013. 

It was during our hosting of the BRICS Summit that our country proposed that a BRICS Youth Policy Dialogue Forum be explored as a new area of Cooperation in the BRICS Forum. This proposal was not new. It was discussed, and included in the Delhi Action Plan at the 2012 Delhi Summit. Nevertheless, it remained unexplored.
 
Ladies and gentlemen;

It will be recalled, South Africa’s engagement with BRICS is premised on three levels or priorities, namely:

  • domestic;
  • regional; and
  • international

In terms of or domestic priorities, I wish to recall President Zuma’s address to the BRICS Business Council on the sidelines of the 5th BRICS Summit on 27 March 2013 in Durban:

(I quote)

“We will also work tirelessly in tandem with our BRIC counterparts to forge stronger partnerships to deliver prosperity and progress to the people of South Africa”.

(Unquote)

Here, President Zuma reminds us that for South Africa to achieve its developmental aspirations, we have to work closely with our BRIC counterparts.
 
In the BRICS strategy that Cabinet approved, we underscore the shared belief that social development is the backbone of growth, employment and redistribution which focused on the social development of youth.

At the regional level, our quest is to continue enhancing the African agenda and to promote Africa’s sustainable development.

On the international front, we remain resolute, working together with our BRIC partners, to pursue issues of global governance, and the reform of Bretton Woods institutions such as the WTO, the World Bank, etc.

Ladies and gentlemen;

Turning into some of the outcomes of the eThekwini Summit, it was clear that education remained central to most discussions.

On this note, you will be pleased to know that the BRICS Ministers responsible for Education in the five BRICS countries intend to meet in Paris on 5-6 November 2013. This meeting will take place on the margins of the UNESCO General Assembly to discuss skills development initiatives. These discussions will help empower our youth and provide employment opportunities.

Programme Director;

It is important at this juncture that I remind our youth about some facts about BRICS.

This formation represents 43% of the world’s population, 18% of global trade, attracts 53% of foreign capital, accounts for 20% of global GDP and has an estimated USD 4,4trillion foreign reserves base and is considered as the engines of global growth accounting for 61% of global growth.

It must also be highlighted that BRICS economies represent shifting global economic architecture from North to South, and BRICS economies will account for 40% of global output by 2040.

BRICS-world trade amounted to an estimated USD5.6trillion in 2012 and intra-BRICS trade has increased 11 fold from $28 billion in 2002 to $310 billion in 2012. It is projected to reach $500 billion by 2015. Intra-BRICS trade accounted for 20% of total BRICS trade in 2012 from 13% in 2008- BRICS traded less with the EU in 2012 than they did in 2008. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to BRICS countries tripled to $263 billion in 2012 (20% of global FDI, up from 6% in 2000).

Ladies and gentlemen;

According to the IMF study, the contribution of BRICS to global economic growth has reached over 50% over the past decade, making it the principal driver of global economic development and significantly contributed to support Low Income Countries during the crisis.

Programme Director;

Please allow me to make a submission for this dialogue. I would like to propose that discussions in this dialogue should consider cooperation initiatives on quality education, universal access to education.

Particular attention must be given to young women, out-of-school youth, youth with disabilities, youth in rural areas and youth living with HIV and affected by AIDS. This will ensure that they too can acquire knowledge, capacity and skills in critical fields.  

It is also critical that we also explore opportunities to access scholarships and other mobility programmes, non-formal education, as well as technical and vocational education and training exchanges between our countries.

Ladies and gentlemen;

If we are to give life to the BRICS Youth Empowerment Action Plan, we could for instance consider to:

  • Promote gender aspects and the role and needs of youth in capacity building activities within BRICS.

  • Develop a working plan on the inauguration of the 1st BRICS Youth Consultative Forum.

  • Chart a way forward on the development and implementation of BRICS Youth Strategy.

  • To encourage the expansion of channels of communication, exchanges and people-to-people contact amongst the youth of BRICS countries in mutually agreed areas;
  • Greater economic cooperation amongst BRICS countries is imperative for economic growth.

Programme Director;

The task ahead is to build what the member states have committed to, and reposition themselves to the cause of promoting sustainable growth and development. In essence, the BRICS formation encourages the member states to take steps to deepen economic engagement amongst their countries.

What remains a task for us as a country is to ensure that we reposition our youth to benefit from these commitments.  We must create an enabling environment within which youth development can flourish through our membership of BRICS, and be mainstreamed in the various BRICS Sectoral mechanisms to the extent possible.

This formation must be able to guide us in developing key strategic developmental models from which our youth could launch their enterprising skills. This is one of the issues that
needs to be discussed today.

At an opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Conference on Education and Training of Youth Workers held in March this year, President Zuma had this to say:

(I quote)

“South Africa's youth employment and empowerment drive will be central to our engagements and discussions with the BRIC(S), and we are certain that BRICS will contribute immensely to satisfying the employment and development needs of our young population,"

(Unquote)

This event is the first step towards realizing an employment and empowerment drive we all desire. Government is committed to travelling this journey with you throughout the realization of the objectives of the agenda you will set during this dialogue today.

In conclusion, please allow me to wish you well in your engagements towards shaping a future we desire for the youth of South Africa, Africa and the world.

I thank you.

For enquiries please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, at 082 884 5974.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

www.dirco.gov.za
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