Ze­nar­iah Barends

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE IM­POR­TANCE of a fo­rum such as this can­not be over­stated; it gives us an op­por­tu­nity to deepen our con­ver­sa­tion, share ideas, learn from each other and col­lab­o­rate in a mean­ing­ful way.

We find our­selves at an op­por­tune time in his­tory, a time to re­flect on our short­com­ings, but also our achieve­ments and to see where we can play a role as agents of change.

Me­dia, driven largely by tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion, have changed dra­mat­i­cally over the past few years. So dra­matic is this change, that we see how dig­i­tal and so­cial me­dia have given a voice to mil­lions of peo­ple who may oth­er­wise not have had their views heard.

As the five Brics na­tions, we share the same ob­jec­tive – to grow our economies and give our cit­i­zens hope for the fu­ture. The ex­press over­all ob­jec­tive of Brics to cre­ate a multi-po­lar, multi-lat­eral world is an im­por­tant one to em­pha­sise in a world where the US un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is mov­ing away from multi-po­lar­ity, be­com­ing more in­su­lar, which only serves to po­larise and ex­ac­er­bate ten­sions on the world stage.

We have an op­por­tu­nity to com­mu­ni­cate the Brics vi­sion and agenda to our coun­tries and the rest of the world.

Brics is not an ab­stract ideal, but a coali­tion of vi­sion­ar­ies, strate­gists and work­ers. The role of the me­dia, par­tic­u­larly in the Brics coun­tries, is crit­i­cal in this re­gard. We have a huge role to play in telling the amaz­ing sto­ries, not only those about what Brics struc­tures are do­ing, but also the im­por­tant, life- chang­ing sto­ries hap­pen­ing in Brics coun­tries.

What do we do when news sites pub­lish pieces with a head­line “Has the Brics bub­ble burst?” or “How tur­moil in Brics states un­der­mines their global stand­ing”?

There are count­less opin­ion pieces writ­ten about Brics in this vein. But how many news sto­ries high­light the work un­der­taken by Brics na­tions, in­di­vid­u­ally or as a re­sult of their col­lab­o­ra­tion with each other within the Brics frame­work?

It is also not un­com­mon to see sto­ries pro­claim­ing that “the New De­vel­op­ment Bank is a damp squib”, even though the bank has in­vested over $1 bil­lion in var­i­ous in­fra­struc­ture projects with a strong fo­cus on the green econ­omy since its in­cep­tion two years ago.

While some me­dia may pro­claim the death of Brics to the rest of the world, we know this is not the case. One way of chang­ing the nar­ra­tive is to write and broad­cast our own sto­ries, so that the ma­jor­ity of me­dia about Brics coun­tries is de­vel­oped by me­dia in Brics coun­tries.

We should build on op­ti­mis­ing the op­por­tu­nity we have to­day, to con­tinue to build a Brics com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture which is ag­ile and re­spon­sive. My wish is to see a vi­brant Brics me­dia com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture with a reach across and be­yond Brics coun­tries, in our quest to build a multi-po­lar world or­der.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween our coun­tries in cov­er­ing events and writ­ing sto­ries is a clear win-win sit­u­a­tion. I am heart­ened by the spread of our sto­ries.

There are 7.3 bil­lion peo­ple, liv­ing in 196 coun­tries, on Earth.

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