EVS Studenten Symposium 2012


BRICS: Changing the rules of the game?

Chances and challenges for international cooperation and developing countries.

Not a dusty and old fashioned policy recommendation, but a fancy 2.0 app that indicates whether a product is made with fair minerals, was the winning idea of the Student Symposium. The jury, four experts that are related to development cooperation and the emerging countries, unanimously voted for this policy recommendation. The fortunate winners are now able to make their voices count by presenting their arguments in Brussels.

That the rules of the game are changing clearly came to the fore in the discussions during the EVS Student Symposium 2012. How will the emerging powers affect global politics and how should we deal with them? Answering these questions and formulating policy recommendations were the main objectives of the symposium. The Student Symposium started off with an introduction about the emergence of the BRICS countries by Arjen Berkvens, director of the Evert Vermeer Stichting. A short movie about the relation between the EU and the BRICS showed that these countries are ‘entering the game’ and that the global playing field is changing. It was the job of students to decide how Europe should deal with this new world order and the challenges it brings. The participants, eager to deal with this job, had gathered at University College Utrecht to take up this challenge.  Professor Gerrits, professor Russian and international history, gave an opening speech in which he gave an introduction on the economic and (geo)political influences of the BRICS countries on the world order. He illustrated this influence by showing figures that indicate that by 2050 the BRICS countries will economically take the lead. This shows the importance of the BRICS countries and proves we can no longer ignore them. To conclude the opening session Mr. Singh, counsellor of the Indian Embassy, gave the students some inside information from the perspective of a BRICS country. He stressed that we, ‘the Western world’, should not only focus on the negative aspects of the BRICS but also have an eye for the fact that every country needs some time to develop.

After this interesting introduction the students went to the master class of their choice and continued the discussions. The six master classes all covered different aspects of urgent global issues: Land Grabbing, Democracy and Human Rights, Raw Materials, Financial Markets, Millennium Development Goals and Climate. The students worked hand-in-hand with experts and formulated inspiring policy recommendations; from creating a international mechanism for financial regulation to the organisation of a MDG+15 conference with special focus on MDG 8 to realise the MDG’s. Some groups even found asking questions to the masterclass experts and preparing their final presentation more important than the lunch and coffee break. In a final session the policy recommendations were presented in a one minute pitch. The jury provided constructive critique to the recommendations. The master class group Mine! The Race for Africa’s Minerals was graded as the best and most innovative recommendation of the symposium. This group of students will go to Brussels to convince politicians of their recommendation. Let’s hope we can all use their app in the future and stop illegal mining activities in Africa!

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