The emergent powers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are drawing attention as they change the political and economic map of the 21st century. But does each country have the institutional framework needed to advance its path of development and to effectively address needed reforms with sustainable solutions? With the support of an international network of experts, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has conducted an indicator-based inventory of the state and performance of governance in each BRICS country. Focusing on success factors and policy challenges, this study draws upon the analytic tool of the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI), allowing for a cross-national analysis of the need for reform in core policy areas such as economic and social affairs, environmental policies and innovation strategies. At the same time, the capacities of each country’s system of governance are explored in each BRICS state. explores the the extent to which problems are identified and strategic solutions implemented in each of the five political systems. By looking at both reform needs and reform capacities, this study points to considerable differences in the prospects for development in each country – prospects which, in some cases, fall short of the expected growth and progress.