BRICS Academic Forum
Opens in Moscow: Key Event to Help Shape Future BRICS Agenda
The BRICS Academic Forum officially opened on May 22 under the motto "BRICS: New Figures at the Global Chessboard," bringing together more than 200 representatives of the expert community from across the BRICS member states. Representatives of more than 10 countries are taking part in the forum.

The event's opening ceremony featured a number of prominent speakers, including Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and Russian BRICS Sherpa Sergey Ryabkov; HSE University Rector Nikita Anisimov; First Deputy Chair of the Committee on International Affairs of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Federal Assembly and Board Chair of the National Committee on BRICS Research Vyacheslav Nikonov; and Head of the BRICS Expert Council-Russia, HSE University Vice Rector and Russian W20 Sherpa Victoria Panova.
The Forum's inaugural session began with a moment of silence as the participants honoured the memory of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in an aviation accident on May 19.

Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexey Overchuk, whose portfolio covers Eurasian integration, cooperation with the CIS, BRICS, and G20, and international events, sent his greetings to the Forum's participants, guests, and organizers. He highlighted the critical role that the expert community plays in developing the group's agenda. It not only helps to focus the attention of the BRICS member states' national governments on new problems and challenges, but also proposes pragmatic approaches to resolving these problems and meeting these challenges. "I would like to note that a range of initiatives that were proposed in prior years have been approved at the highest level and have helped to accelerate the development of BRICS. Today, BRICS commands significant political authority and colossal economic potential. The countries within the group account for 35.6% of global GDP, or more than the share of the so-called Group of Seven countries, as well as 40% of global oil production and around one-fourth of the global export of goods, and are home to 45% of the world's population," Alexey Overchuk said in his message of greetings.

The Deputy Prime Minister also noted the BRICS' significant role in global politics and economics, thanks to which an ever-increasing number of countries have expressed an interest in becoming involved in and contributing to the work of the group in one form or another. "It's important that BRICS enjoys strong, durable connections to those regions of the world that offer the greatest potential for economic growth: Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. We can state with confidence that, today, BRICS is not only affirming its status as the primary vehicle for promoting the interests of the Global Majority on the world stage but is also becoming a genuinely multipolar structure within which the countries of the Global South and Northern Eurasia can cooperate based on the principles of equality, sovereignty, and mutual respect. It's clear that BRICS and those countries oriented toward BRICS are becoming key elements of the new global architecture," Alexey Overchuk noted in his message of greetings to the Forum.

"Thanks to the growth of academic exchanges, the strengthening of the dialogue between governments and the expert community, and the development of recommendations for the leaders of the [BRICS] countries, such events as the Academic Forum are helping to shape the future agenda of BRICS," the Deputy Prime Minister's greeting message concluded.

In his remarks, Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and Russia's BRICS Sherpa, noted that work within the group is being carried out with a focus on achieving results. "BRICS is an authoritative platform, on which a discussion of the agenda is being conducted in an informal atmosphere. The BRICS' motto is: A dialogue among equals and collective action. The group enables finding points of common interest and options for interconnecting and integrating the policies of our member states while taking into account national interests and civilizational diversity and is continuously moving forward with a constructive agenda and working toward achieving results," the senior Russian diplomat said. He added that the chosen theme of the Forum—"BRICS: New Figures at the Global Chessboard"—precisely reflects the current changes, but in contrast to the game of chess, where black and white pieces are arrayed against each other, and the bipolar framework makes it possible to predict many moves, the appearance of new chess pieces in a multipolar world opens up additional opportunities for taking part in the process of balancing world politics.

The contribution of the Forum participants in providing expert insight and conceptualization, analysis, and a content-rich foundation for the work of BRICS will always be carefully studied by the relevant departments of the Russian Foreign Ministry and other Russian federal agencies, the diplomat stated. "I am confident that the [Forum's] recommendations will evoke great interest within the relevant government ministries and agencies of the group's member states," Sergey Ryabkov said. In concluding his remarks, he wished the participants fruitful and successful work on the platform of the Academic Forum.
Humanitarian cooperation is one of the pillars of BRICS, and science and education are shaping the future and promoting and accelerating progress. While the overall BRICS agenda features a wealth of events, the Academic Forum occupies a special place. It is important for everyone as it has become a place where all of the best scientific and research resources from across the group's member states are concentrated, HSE University Rector Nikita Anisimov emphasized in his remarks. "The partnership in the area of science and education can be of a strategic nature only if it incorporates cooperation at the intergovernmental and interstate level," Dr Anisimov said.

For HSE University, academic research and expert work is a priority, and work performed within the BRICS framework plays a major role here. The Rector noted that it is precisely HSE University that has played host to the creation of the BRICS Expert Council, which coordinates the work of the group's expert and social track. "We are doing everything to ensure that the work conducted as part of the BRICS' expert track is productive. The Forum has confirmed its effectiveness, and I am confident that it will enable even further strengthening of ties among experts. I wish all of you much success in your work," Nikita Anisimov concluded.
In her welcome remarks, HSE University Vice Rector Victoria Panova, who serves as Head of the BRICS Expert Council-Russia, noted that the expert communities in the BRICS member states have been cooperating productively over the course of more than 15 years and began their joint work even before the first BRICS Summit in 2009. "In 2013, the final declaration of the [5th] BRICS Summit in Durban expressed support for the decision to create a Council of BRICS expert centres, which would coordinate the group's expert track, set the strategic trajectory for the development of the BRICS as a whole, and develop and elaborate concrete initiatives. One such initiative is the system of indicators for monitoring BRICS activity, which was worked out in 2020 for analyzing and assessing results achieved, as well as the group's contribution toward the development of each member state individually," she said, adding that the expert communities of the new member states will undoubtedly augment and enrich the joint work with fresh ideas.

Victoria Panova emphasized that politicizing scientific and academic cooperation is unacceptable and reiterated that the Academic Forum brings together the best minds among experts, professors, and researchers. This year, experts from the [five] countries that have just recently joined BRICS are also taking part in the Forum for the first time. "The Forum is a platform for an equal, non-discriminatory partnership. I wish to underscore that the doors to our expert community remain open for all who understand the importance of BRICS as one of the institutions of global governance, who understand the need for an international expert dialogue, and as well who recognize that the politicization of scientific and academic cooperation is unacceptable," the Head of the BRICS Expert Council stressed.

The HSE University Vice Rector reported that the event has brought together more than 200 delegates, who are taking part in the work of 12 separate sessions dedicated to the most relevant themes for BRICS, including political and security issues, economics and finance, energy, high technology, climate, culture, and tourism. "As a representative of the expert and academic community, I sincerely hope that cooperation among experts under the umbrella of the new BRICS will become even more productive and successful, from the perspective of both formulating concrete initiatives for the future of BRICS and fostering contacts among members of the academic and scientific communities. I am confident that the current BRICS Academic Forum will provide a powerful impulse for the work to be done in each of these areas," Victoria Panova summarized.

The BRICS Academic Forum, the key expert track event under Russia's Chairship of BRICS during 2024, is taking place in Moscow on May 22–24. The Forum is organized by the BRICS Expert Council-Russia, established in implementation of the Russian Government's mandate at HSE University at the initiative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. The head of the BRICS Expert Council–Russia is HSE Vice Rector Victoria Panova.

Within the framework of the Forum, participants from various countries deliver reports and presentations and discuss the most relevant issues, including those pertaining to the expansion and bolstering of cooperation under the BRICS umbrella, as well as financial and economic mechanisms, and avenues for the further development of multilateral cooperation.

The BRICS Expert Council-Russia will formulate a set of recommendations based on the results of the Academic Forum for submission to the leaders of the BRICS member states before the 16th BRICS Summit to be held in Kazan on October 22–24.