The BRICS is a political and economic formation of so-called emerging economies from across the globe. Following the ironic inspiration of a Goldman Sachs investment concept developed in 2001, the grouping began to take real political shape from 2006 onwards, when it first met formally at the sidelines of a UN meeting. Since 2009 the BRICS have held an annual heads of state summit in one of the member countries, and from 2011 onwards South Africa joined the original four members to ensure a broad continental representation in the grouping.
The rationale for such an alliance was that the members were regional powers, strong and systemically important emerging economies, and rising international powers from the Global South. BRICS members have an interest and agenda to change global economic and power dynamics and distribution in international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, UN Security Council etc. They feel the Western traditional powers have long dominated global systems of governance, and need to give up some of their power in the context of a changing world in which the emerging economies are contributing more to the growth and development of the global economy.
BRICS has generally operated as an informal grouping, and not set up elaborate structures or a secretariat. It makes formal statements at its annual summit, and on occasion meets on the sideline of other global moments, such as UN, World Bank or international climate change negotiation meetings. The focus of the grouping has been on economic and political cooperation, reform of the international financial system, and recovery from the global financial crisis. BRICS has now and then taken positions on foreign policy issues, such as Russia and Ukraine, Syria, Libya etc, but it is primarily in the economic realm that it has been most active, in particular in being involved in setting up two new multilateral development banks, the NDB and the AIIB.