Today, the BRICS represents 41% of the population and are responsible for 31% of global GDP as to purchasing power parity.
But we face a scenario that is more complex than when we first got together.
In just a few years, we have left behind a scenario of benign multipolarity towards one that resumes the obsolete mentality of the Cold War and geopolitical competition.
This folly creates great uncertainty and corrodes multilateralism.
We know where this path can lead us.
The world must understand that the risks involved are unacceptable to humanity.
We cannot avoid dealing with the main current conflict taking place in Ukraine with global effects.
Brazil’s historic stance is to defend sovereignty, territorial integrity and all the United Nations’ purposes and principles.
We find it positive that an increasing number of countries, among them the BRICS countries, are also engaged in making direct contact with Moscow and Kiev.
We do not underestimate how difficult it is to achieve peace.
Nor can we remain indifferent to the deaths and destruction that increase every day.
We stand ready to join an effort that can effectively contribute to a prompt ceasefire and a fair and lasting peace.
Everyone suffers the consequences of war. Developing countries’ most vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected.
The war in Ukraine highlights Security Council limitations.
BRICS must act as a force towards understanding and cooperation. Our willingness is expressed in the contributions of China, South Africa and my own country to the efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
Many other conflicts and crises do not receive due attention even though they cause vast suffering to their populations.
Haitians, Yemenis, Syrians, Libyans, Sudanese and Palestinians all deserve to live in peace.
It is unacceptable that global military spending in a single year exceeds 2 trillion dollars, while FAO tells us that 735 million people go hungry every day in the world.
The search for peace is a collective duty and an imperative for fair and sustainable development.
In many places, while men wage war, it is women who fight for conciliation. Valuing and strengthening the role of women in conflict resolution will be increasingly central to a peaceful world.
More than that, women's empowerment is a precondition for full economic and social development.
To paraphrase great pan-African leader Thomas Sankara: we cannot aspire to a society in which half the population is silenced by male chauvinism and discrimination in political participation and in the world of work.
The breakdown of global governance is also evident in the agendas of development, financing and climate change.
Upon returning to the Presidency of Brazil, it saddens me to see that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is at risk worldwide.
A recent UN report indicates strong setbacks.
We are seeing the greatest increase in inequality between countries in three decades. In 30% of the goals, we are stagnated or going backwards.
It is very hard to combat climate change while so many developing countries are still dealing with hunger, poverty and other violence.
The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is still relevant.
Those largely responsible for the carbon emissions that caused the climate crisis were those who carried out the Industrial Revolution and fed a predatory colonial extractivism.
They owe a historic debt to planet Earth and humanity.
We must value the Paris Agreement and the Climate Convention instead of outsourcing climate responsibilities to the Global South.
Brazil is recovering its leading role in the environmental agenda.
Coordination with other developing countries harboring tropical rainforests for action in the Climate and Biodiversity COPs will be vital to highlight our interests.
The Amazon Summit held on August 8 and 9 is a milestone towards the necessary construction of a fairer sustainable development model.
Our resources must not be exploited for the benefit of a few, but valued and put at the service of all, and especially for the well-being of local populations.
For the promises that were already made by rich countries to be fulfilled, however, climate and biodiversity finance must be truly new and additional to development finance.
We need an international financial system that, instead of fueling inequalities, helps low- and middle-income countries to implement structural changes.
This will only happen with adequate representation in Bretton Woods institutions and their climate funds.
External indebtedness constraints sustainable development. It is unacceptable that developing countries are penalized with interest rates up to eight times higher than those charged to rich countries.
Liquidity and concessional financing must be expanded; conditionalities must cease.
The multilateral trading system must be revived to once again act as a tool for fair, predictable, equitable and non-discriminatory trade.
No one remembers the WTO Development Round anymore.
The decarbonization of our economies must be accompanied by the creation of decent jobs, industrialization and green infrastructure, and with public services for all.
We can offer our own financing options through the New Development Bank – all of them suited to the needs of the Global South.
I am certain that, under the leadership of my partner Dilma Rousseff, the Bank will rise to these challenges.
The creation of a currency for trade and investment transactions between BRICS members increases our payment options and reduces our vulnerabilities.
Today BRICS is fully consolidated as a brand and political asset of strategic value.
The participation of dozens of Heads of State and Government in tomorrow's expanded session will be a historic achievement.
The interest of several countries in joining the group is recognition of its increasing relevance.
There will also be a troika with only G20 BRICS members from 2023 to 2025.
This is yet another opportunity to advance the Global South’a as to inequalities and sustainable development.
May the impetus that motivated the creation of the BRICS 15 years ago continue to inspire us in building a multipolar, fair and inclusive order.
By HE Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President of the Federal Republic of Brazil