Perhaps Jim O'Neil, an economist with Goldman Sachs, would have never imagined that the word "BRICs" he coined in a 2001 research paper could have in reality helped assemble the power of the world's five emerging market economies.
Eight years after the birth of the coinage, leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, four emerging economies that were the initial members of the grouping, gathered in the Russian city of Yekateringburg for their first summit to discuss how the world could survive the crippling international financial crisis and reform global financial regulatory system.
Since then, the "BRICs" has ceased to be an idea on a piece of paper. It has grown into a strong force that has championed global economic recovery and is working to deliver a fairer and more just world order.
In late 2010, South Africa joined the grouping, completing the acronym BRICS.
Continue to Lead Global Recovery
Fast economic growth is no doubt the most visible hallmark among the BRICS nations. According to the World Bank, the average growth rate of the BRICS nations in the first decade of the 21st century was well above 8 percent, much faster than that of both the developed economies and the world at large.
Their resilient economic performance, especially since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, has served as the locomotive that drives economic recovery worldwide.
In 2010, the emerging market group has contributed more than half of the overall global economic growth. In 2012, that contribution was about 2.2 trillion U.S. dollars, roughly the size of the entire Italian economy.
It is true that the BRICS nations saw their growth rates slowing down last year amid a worsening debt crisis in the eurozone and a staggering world economic recovery.
Worldwide watchers, particularly those from the West, began to wonder whether BRICS members could maintain their economic vitality, and question their ability to withstand the future economic challenges.
However, the pessimists and skeptics may well be proved wrong, and there are good reasons.
With almost 30 percent of the world's territory, 42.9 percent of population, the BRICS nations have been in the middle of their pursuit toward urbanization, industrialization and modernization, all of which would nurture huge market demands, a key source of power that would continue to walk the world economy back to sustainable growth.
The growing demands among the BRICS countries would not only present great opportunities to the stagnated Western economies, but also boost the exports of other developing nations and their economic development.
In China, for example, the country's total imports during the 12th five-year plan period (2011-2015) are expected to hit 11 trillion U.S. dollars, and such a tremendous demand will benefit both the wealthy nations and the developing countries.
Toward Better Global Governance
The BRICS nations' contribution to the world, however, is beyond economic terms as they have also tried to promote a reasonably structured global governing system that could better interpret the current global economic and political transformations.
For decades, the existing international institutions, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, are reluctant to make substantial reforms so as to reflect and guarantee the interests of the developing and the less developed nations.
According to media reports, the BRICS nations would announce the establishment of a development bank at the upcoming fifth summit in Durban, South Africa. That idea was first exposed at the fourth BRICS summit at the Indian capital city of New Delhi.
Meanwhile, the BRICS nations would also consider the option of setting up a foreign reserve fund, a business council and a think tank.
Once established, they would certainly serve as a major breakthrough for both inter-BRICS cooperation and global financial system.
However, these proposed organizations do not indicate that the BRICS nations are trying to overthrow the old global rules.
Isabel Christina Heyvaert, Brazilian ambassador to Ethiopia, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the idea of a development bank is to create fund to improve cooperation with the developing countries.
South African Standard Bank's Simon Freemantle, senior analyst in the African Political Economy Unit, and Jeremy Stevens, an international economist based in Beijing, said in their latest Africa Macro report that the bank is not a counterweight to multilateral development banks.
"However, on this specific score, the envisioned BRICS bank is an auxiliary funding institution -- albeit more aligned to BRICS' development agenda," their report said.
Still, they said that for the proposed BRICS development bank to be operational, the member nations have to answer a string of questions that concern the bank's funding mechanism, management, and business focuses. How to coordinate the different financial policies of the five members would also pose serious challenges.
Meeting Common Challenges
As the BRICS nations deepen their cooperation, their increasingly better coordinated efforts have played an important role in defending the interests and rights of the developing nations as the human race are striving to meet such pressing global challenges as climate change and food security.
To curb the adversities of climate change, the BRICS members have been persistent in demanding the developed countries of taking the lead in cutting green house gas emissions, and delivering promised assistance in terms of funds and technology to the developing and the less developed nations so as to promote green growth.
Together, the BRICS group could lend to the developing nations much heavier bargaining leverage in the future negotiations over the distribution of emission reduction quotas.
Food security is another topic that is high on the agenda of the BRICS nations.
Back in 2011, five BRICS members issued a joint statement, calling for closer cooperation to help ensure global food security, which has to start with feeding almost half of the world's total population living in these BRICS countries.
Apart from that, the BRICS nations should also step up their assistance to other developing and poor nations, particularly in the area of agriculture technology so that these nations could better deal with the negative impact of the climate change.
Meanwhile, the five emerging economies should also work to establish a fair global food trading system so as to ensure that food supply is secure worldwide.