|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2014 Substantive Session
37th & 38th Meetings (AM & PM)
Speakers Call for New Development Cooperation Strategies in Post-2015 Agenda,
as Economic and Social Council Commences Forum
Panels Discuss Official Development Assistance, South-South Cooperation
Commencing its Development Cooperation Forum, the Economic and Social Council explored the shape that assistance, investment, aid and partnerships on all platforms should take in the post-2015 agenda and their roles in finding multidimensional solutions to poverty and sustainable development.
Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the Secretary-General’s report “Trends and progress in international development cooperation”, said that the text had gathered a wealth of perspectives from multi-stakeholders that contributed to the two-year preparatory process. It highlighted a reorientation of global development efforts. While the focus to improve aid effectiveness was ongoing, sector-wide and programme-based approaches had shown strong results. Foreign direct investment remained the largest external source of private financing in developing countries, but effective public policies were needed to ensure it benefited strategic sectors.
However, he also pointed out that even if past official development assistance (ODA) commitments had been met, those resources would fall short of what was needed to finance the global development agenda. Meeting ODA commitments, however, would boost the confidence and trust of other development actors. A renewed global partnership for development should be agreed upon on an intergovernmental level and engage the full range of development partners, with a focus on eradicating poverty and putting the world on a more sustainable development path.
Mr. Wu then went on to deliver a keynote address on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (see Press Release SG/SM/16014), saying the world was now developing a transformative post-2015 development agenda that aimed to complete the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and would put the world on a more sustainable path. Development cooperation would remain central to the new agenda, but to succeed, it must evolve. The international community must devise new ways to raise additional resources to continue helping countries and people lagging behind.
Robert Chambers, Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex, United Kingdom, in his keynote address, said it was a “thrilling” time in development and development cooperation, with a post-2015 vision that included a universal and unified set of agreements, the idea of transforming almost everything and the monitoring and reducing of inequalities. There were new relationships in development cooperation, with rising powers such as South-South cooperation, as well as between donors and recipients, and new ways of relating, as in the case of Timor-Leste helping Guinea-Bissau in the area of post-conflict. That sort of exchange was pleasing because it was not associated with power or funding.
However, the challenges faced were centred in language, he stated, pointing out the discrepancy between what was being said and the reality behind the words. A paradigm shift in the 2000s went from “people” to “things” and the language reflected that shift. He shared that in 6,000 interviews with recipients of aid, they wanted “personal”, direct relationships with donors. The personal dimension in development was crucial as well. Wherever something good was happening there was always a person at the core. Those relationships were vital and anchored in two sentences: “ask them” and “listen”.
The Forum also held three panel discussions throughout the day, titled, respectively, “Advancing a unified and universal development agenda”, “The critical role of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in development cooperation post-2015”, and “Learning from South-South cooperation in looking to the future”.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 9 a.m. on 11 July to conclude the forum.
Martin Sajdik (Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council, underscored the focus on what development cooperation should be and the need to find multidimensional solutions to poverty and development cooperation. During the two-year preparation for the Programme, the Economic and Social Council had advanced an inclusive development process that would support Member States and other stakeholders towards strong cooperation. That would play a significant role in implementing policies and initiatives to the post-2015 agenda, but only if it adapted in real time to the realities of the day.
He noted that other resources needed to be explored, including the business sector and other stakeholders, while emphasizing the importance of the business sector’s parameters. Renewed partnerships needed to bring together the Monterrey Consensus and the Rio track. The meeting would be a chance for delegations to have a last reflection before the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals and he urged that they be bold and challenging in their dialogues and exchanges.
Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report “Trends and progress in international development cooperation” (document E/2014/77) saying the document highlighted that there had been a reorientation of global development efforts. Official development assistance (ODA) continued to be a critical source of development finance, rebounding to $134.8 billion in 2013. However, the share of ODA flows to least developed countries had decreased in recent years. Efforts to improve aid effectiveness were ongoing, while sector-wide and programme-based approaches had shown strong results. Foreign direct investment remained the largest external source of private financing in developing countries, but effective public policies were needed to ensure it benefited strategic sectors.
South-South cooperation continued to demonstrate its strength, yet it could only compliment and not substitute for North-South cooperation, he noted. The report gathered a wealth of perspectives from multi-stakeholders that contributed to the two-year preparatory process. Even if past ODA commitments had been met, those resources would fall far short of what was needed to finance the global development agenda. Meeting ODA commitments, however, would boost the confidence and trust of other development actors. A renewed global partnership for development should be agreed-upon on an intergovernmental level and engage the full range of development partners, with a focus on eradicating poverty and putting the world on a more sustainable development path.
Mr. Wu went on to deliver a keynote address on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, saying the world was now developing a transformative post-2015 development agenda that aimed to complete the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and would put the world on a more sustainable path. Development cooperation would remain central to the new agenda, but to succeed, it must evolve. Past ODA commitments would remain critical beyond 2015, although that assistance alone would not meet the additional financing needs for the post-2015 agenda. The international community must devise new ways to raise additional resources to continue helping countries and people lagging behind.
The new, unified and universal post-2015 agenda, he stated, would require supporting developing countries at all stages, with the transition towards sustainability. More and more countries were advancing and becoming less dependent on aid. Moving forward, cooperation must match their needs by shifting to capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. The international community must do much more to optimize technology, while trade was also a driving force.
He said there were four essential building blocks to the post-2015 agenda, including: a far-reaching vision with a compelling narrative; a set of concise goals and targets; a renewed global partnership for development; and a framework for review, monitoring and accountability at all levels. He went on to pose three basic questions for consideration: how could a post-2015 financing framework function in practice, how could the international community bring greater coherence to discussions on means of implementation and how could leaders foster trust and mutual learning?
ROBERT CHAMBERS, Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex, United Kingdom, recalled a note on a wall that said: “Let’s speak truth to power”. Below, someone had written, “Sure. If somebody funds it.” Power went with funding, pervaded everything and distorted relationships, he stressed. Nonetheless, it was a “thrilling” time in development and development cooperation, with a post-2015 vision that included a universal and unified set of agreements, the idea of transforming almost everything and the monitoring and reducing of inequalities. There was accelerated change in every dimension, notably in communications, the ways of working and in the lives of poor people, “the people we are to be working for”. There were new relationships in development cooperation, with rising powers such as the South-South cooperation, as well as between donors and recipients, and new ways of relating, as in the case of Timor-Leste helping Guinea-Bissau in the area of post-conflict. That sort of exchange was pleasing because it was not associated with power or funding.
He said that the challenges being faced were centred in language — what seemed to be said and the reality behind the words. Participation had been big in the 1990s. Poor people were primary stakeholders. That was no longer the case. A paradigm shift in the 2000s went from “people” to “things” and the language reflected that shift. That focus on “things” worked in big infrastructure, but in other contexts it was misapplied. The Paris Declaration did not include words such as “agreement”, “evolve”, “negotiate”, “power”, “relationship”, “poor” or “people”, among others. Even in the preparatory meeting to the Development Cooperative Forum, the common words used were “partnership” and “accountability”, to name a few. Words like “low-level”, “grassroots”, “radical”, “people”, and “mind-set” were not used. That was important to know if development cooperation was to be done well. “Deliver”, another word not used 10 years ago, implied “supply” when what was needed was cooperation and flexibility. He pointed out the Economic and Social Council President had used the words “trust” and “transparency”, and when they were present, truth followed.
He then presented several books and studies, including “Time to Listen” which included 6,000 interviews with recipients of aid who described aid as too time-bound. They wanted “personal”, direct relationships with donors, with more staff making contact and with fewer managers. “Procedures” were imposing limitations, often creating a situation that had been compared to running an obstacle course in a straitjacket. It was critical to radically simplify the process. The personal dimension in development was crucial as well. Wherever something really good was happening there was always a person at the core. Who was being recruited and how were they were being trained?
Grassroots immersion was also important, he said, noting that that was something the World Bank used to do and what Germany was currently doing. There was a need for more staff, yet agencies were reducing personnel while increasing their budget, a situation that was “ridiculous”. Cost effectiveness of the total budget was what mattered. Also needed were people with “passion” and guts to get in there and stick in there. It was a “privilege” to be engaged in such an important enterprise with the potential to help human beings. Relationships were critical and anchored in two sentences: “ask them” and “listen”. “In order to listen, you have to shut up,” he said.
In the ensuing discussion, VIVIANA CARO HINOJOSA, Minister for Development Planning of Bolivia, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the current development situation was impacted by the recent financial and economic crisis, which posed new challenges for development. It was essential that the international community provide more permanent and stable, predictable, concessional, conditionality-free financial resources for developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable and least developed among them. The Development Cooperation Forum should not be diverted to specific agendas pursued outside the United Nations framework. Instead, international development cooperation should be pursued in an inclusive and transparent matter, drawing from a wide range of experiences and practices.
The Group, she said, believed the Forum should focus on priority issues for action that were based on practical outcomes that could lead to concrete results. Mutual accountability and aid transparency should be discussed as well as South-South and triangular cooperation. There was the need for a new and stronger commitment by developed countries to international cooperation. Leaders should agree and commit to a new phase of cooperation through a strengthened and scaled-up partnership for development. That partnership should address issues such as ODA, debt relief and restructuring, trade, technology transfer and greater participation of developing countries in global economic governance.
The representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that an effective financing strategy for sustainable development would require the mobilization and effective use of new and additional financial resources — public and private, domestic and international. ODA would remain crucial for least developed countries, while also supporting the transition of middle-income countries, tackling structural gaps and barriers and building institutional frameworks needed for economic growth, good governance and investment. The Community stressed its deep concern regarding proposals to redefine the methodology for measuring ODA, while recognizing the importance of South-South cooperation as a concrete manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South.
Much more could be achieved if developing countries received required financial and technical support from developed countries and the United Nations system. A global partnership for development would only be effective in an enabling environment, which would require reform of the governance mechanisms of the international financial institutions. It would require strengthened commitments from developed countries to engage in international cooperation and sufficient policy space for developing countries, taking into account their different national circumstances, priorities and capabilities.
The representative of Colombia, associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, urged the international community to rethink the role and classification of middle-income countries in the post-2015 development agenda. There must be more transparency, accountability, and political will. Middle-income countries maintained that their classification according to income levels created a detrimental bias on the international level. There must also be greater coordination with regional and global agencies in the establishment of the new development goals.
Vladimir Drobnjak (Croatia), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, introduced the panel “Advancing a unified and universal development agenda”.
Moderating was Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning. Pio Wennubst, Assistant Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, was the keynote speaker and a panellist.
The other panellists included Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, Sri Lanka; Mawussi Djossou Semodji, Minister of Planning, Togo; and Manish Bapna, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute. Lead discussants were Hélène Laverdierè, Member of Parliament, Canada, and Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Ms. MOHAMMED, opening the panel, said that the process over the past two years had occurred through consultations and consensus building with Member States. Going forward, ownership would be the most important aspect. However, the negotiating phase developing agreements would be starting in September towards the Summit in 2015. International cooperation would be centre to a transformative agenda. As well, how business was done would need to be changed.
Mr. WENNUBST, in his address, said the key feature of post-2015 agenda was the universality principle towards sustainable development while guaranteeing a decent future for people around the world. The post–2015 agenda should not be a struggle around structure and administrative features. It needed to be a bold action to achieve goals, as people did not like to change unless forced to. It was not a joke what was happening on the planet. Nonetheless, “these are bloody exciting times”, he stated. The question of how development cooperation would contribute would be built on passionate support. However, it was overshadowed by private financing flow. Official development assistance was a fraction of external economies.
Partners would have to tackle policy coherence, he said. In the past 30 years, partnerships were imbalanced. Now those relationships needed to be based on what united the world with each stakeholder taking their share of their responsibility. Global partnership needed to be transparent and broad multi-stakeholder engagement, from science to civil society, needed to become complementary to intergovernmental bodies. The ODA had a catalytic function, which was an important normative component to mobilizing other resources. That meant regulation and accountability must be brought to the table, and be powerful to implementing the post-2015 agenda. Effective monitoring frameworks were critical in efforts forward.
Mr. WENNUBST, responding to what defining features and key elements should be present in post-2015 development cooperation, said that it was important to think globally but think locally, which was not that easy. It was important to, in collecting data, use that as a learning experience, and not just be focused on accountability. In local initiatives, it was important to think about those programmes’ relationship to the global platform.
Mr. BAPNA said that the role of development cooperation in implementing a forward post-2015 agenda was that of a catalyst that could accelerate local levels and efforts. Among his comments, he noted that ODA continued to make up 70 per cent of financial sources, so it was important the international community deliver on commitments made. Investments made in low-income countries, when the environment allowed, were also significant in eradicating poverty. In those countries, tax revenues were still lower than others. However, utilizing the ODA more strategically to improve tax collection structures had resulted in every $1 of that assistance translating into $350 of Government revenue. Tax avoidance, in particular corporate tax avoidance, was a huge issue representing hundreds of billions of dollars, and more could be done in that area. He also pointed out that non-concessional loans, which had often acted as a bridge between aid and investment, had declined significantly and needed to be reinvigorated.
Mr. SEMODJI, noting that “States don’t have friends; they only have interests”, said that today interests had changed. However, it was crucial to see that the world shared common interests, as demonstrated by climate changes crises and the interconnected relationships between countries and regions. In 1999 Togo had established national development strategies. Countries themselves needed to contribute financial support themselves. The Monterrey Consensus had envisioned that international actors would provide assistance on a concessional base and the Paris Declaration stated they had an obligation to do so. But some things did not work, as the capacity of recipients was weak. Partners would come and identify the programmes that aligned with their own goals but the recipient countries “couldn’t identify which programme was being identified”.
Mr. PREMAJAYANTHA said that, in terms of strengthening national efforts in a multidimensional landscape, State, municipalities, and local governing bodies all represented different ideas and political parties, as well as different priorities. Selection of projects was a key focus, and intervention and coordination of stakeholders and projects, with targets achieved within time frames, was critical. A peaceful atmosphere, political stability, and managing human and physical resources were critical to poverty eradication. Sri Lanka, until 2009, had conflict and terrorism, and in 2004 a natural disaster that claimed 40,000 lives. The country had fully recovered in the last 10 years, he said, pointing to several indicators, including national poverty reduction from 23 per cent in 2004 to 8.9 per cent in 2014.
Ms. LAVERDIERÈ said that the number of actors was growing and they were increasingly active, including trade associations and unions. However, parliamentarians should not be forgotten when speaking about accountability, monitoring, and new laws. “That’s our job description,” she said. It was clear that coordination among multi-stakeholders and actors was enormous and the role of Government must change. Precise goals needed to be present. “We need to think about common interests as we are all in the same boat,” she said. Reduction of poverty could not be done without sustainable development.
Ms. AKHTAR said that efforts had to be more radical than what was being suggested. There needed to be a broader intergovernmental system reflecting global realities. Global partnerships needed to extend to finance and beyond, infusing equitable trade and environmental regimes. Partnerships had been looked at in a narrow context. The Millennium Development Goals had design issues and lacked political commitments. Pointing out that the Asian Pacific region held 66 per cent of the world’s poor, it also received the lowest aid per poor person among developing regions. Global partnership needed to examine alternative funding avenues, going beyond tax collection and revenue. Development cooperation, which was voluntary, was only effective by accountability mechanisms. South-South cooperation flows needed to be effectively tracked but were not a substitute for North-South flows.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of South Africa said that intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 agenda needed to be strengthened and scaled up, based on national ownership of development strategies. Member States should be main drivers.
A representative for the Minister of Finance of Rwanda said the private sector was critical and investment and trade were needed in development. However, to ensure that, an environment conducive to that was needed. The Government needed to take ownership. Rwanda took ownership and things improved through South-South cooperation. “We need more money, but not from the Government or development cooperation, but from the private sector,” he stressed.
The representative of Bangladesh said that the transformative agenda would require unprecedented financial resources, asking where that would come from. He also questioned if the focus on poverty reduction would be lost if sustainable development was addressed.
A representative of the North-South Institute said it was important to look back from where the world had come from, but asked the panel where they saw participation into development headed.
A representative of Colombia focused on middle-income countries, calling it an historic moment for such countries. She stressed that gross domestic product (GDP) should not be the measurement for development cooperation. All countries needed help to leap forward.
Mr. WENNUBST said, from a donor perspective, that focus would still be on poverty eradication, noting the fragility of certain countries. Considering the vulnerability of certain States, the ODA would have to play a role in re-engaging in an open manner, not in a patronizing way. Global programmes were focused and targeted on specific themes such as health and migration. From there, even if the ODA was a fraction, he would bring focus to those themes, thus making the best use of support. Distinctions were not made between middle-income and low-income, as it was not the quantity of funding but the quality of the exchange.
Mr. PREMAJAYANTHA said that if development could be sustained poverty could be reduced, as seen in Sri Lanka. Evaluation was needed on all levels, national, local and grassroots.
Mr. SEMODJI said the private sector had an important role on national levels, but they must take into account priorities of the country to help the population and not exploit the resources. The private sector could help in technology transfer, particularly in Africa which needed investment in heavy industry. The use of development aid should not just strengthen tax collection capacity but capacity on all levels. Donors selected the programmes they were going to invest in, but national ownership was necessary to partner in that development process.
Mr. BAPNA said that poverty and sustainable development were inextricably linked. It would be important to seek how to protect additional commitments and not have separate streams. Regarding private sector investments, he described it as complex. That sector accounted for 90 per cent of the jobs, but it could not tackle sustainability and poverty unless the environment enabled its presence. Creating that was the role of Government. The model of cooperation looked much different 20 years ago than what it would look 20 years from now. Despite rhetoric, actions to change institutions had been very slow.
Martin Sajdik (Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council, introduced the panel discussion “The critical role of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in development cooperation post-2015”. Moderating the dialogue was Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
The keynote address was given by Judith Randel, Executive Director, Development Initiatives, United Kingdom. Panellists included Fulbert Gero Amoussouga, Minister at the Presidency of the Republic of Benin in charge of coordinating policies and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the sustainable development goals; Erik Solheim, Chair, Development Assistance Committee, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; José Antonio Alonso, Professor, Universidad Complutense of Madrid; and Nguyen The Phuong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, Viet Nam. The lead discussant was María Eugenia Casar, Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Ms. RANDEL said what was needed was international and development cooperation for the next 15 years that was not predicated on the last 15 years. There were two fundamental questions the international community was grappling with — how to target ODA to achieve poverty eradication and how to mobilize more and better resources. The discussion has transitioned whereby poverty eradication was a reality, rather than simply an aspiration. Policies really mattered and were critically important for the ability to make progress. Resources also mattered; not only in volume, but also in the productivity of the resources. Domestic resources were seen as the “spine”; in other words, the critical factor in achieving process. However, they were inadequate to achieve poverty eradication by 2030.
She said that for the poorest people, ODA was seen as essential, although better-off countries also relied on it. The goal of aid should shift in the post 2015-agenda where it delivered the most impact to the bottom 20 per cent of the global population. There must be new benchmarks for measuring the well-being of the bottom 20 per cent, as well. Other resources must also be harnessed to achieve broader global goals, which could be an important first step in transparency and accountability. There must be better data. Currently, of the 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 6 had no survey data at all, and 21 were using data more than 7 years old. The biggest question was about how to harness the 93 per cent of other international resources that did not come from aid, such as foreign direct investment, remittances and South-South cooperation.
Mr. GERO AMOUSSOUGA said although some said ODA was “dead”, he did not believe that was the case. In developing countries, the protection of public goods was not always possible, which created negative externalities for the whole of mankind. Many developing States had made progress, but remained vulnerable to external shocks, including natural disasters. If the global community wanted to be resilient, then ODA was indispensable in times of crisis. Developing States yearned to move forward through inclusive growth, but gaps in public services made that progress difficult. ODA must be targeted and not guided by political situations.
Mr. Solheim said there had been great progress in development and the eradication of poverty was a real possibility. Government policies had a huge role to play in the success stories of developing countries. The forces of the market had been “unleashed” with much more and better private investment, while increases in ODA were also critical factors. ODA should be targeted more towards the least developed countries and in a way that encouraged more domestic resource mobilization. It should also be targeted in a way that promoted more private investment and supported peace. South-South cooperation needed to be revisited as it was often underutilized.
Mr. ALONSO said one option was to target ODA in a focused way for fighting extreme poverty in the poorest countries and fragile States. However, employing such a narrow focus overestimated the capacities of middle-income countries to overcome their own problems and did not take into account the need to create an incentive-based system. The world had become increasingly complicated and the international cooperation system must be ready to tackle such diversity. Most resources should be dedicated to the poorest countries, but the special needs associated with middle-income countries could not be ignored. The persistence of poverty was not the only challenge faced by the poorest countries. Often there were debilitating structural deficiencies and a grave need to improve institutional frameworks.
Mr. NGUYEN said developing countries needed support from developed countries. ODA, together with public expenditures, could play a catalyst role for attracting private investment, but should also align and support developing countries’ socioeconomic development plans. ODA should be targeted to the areas where it could have the greatest impact, such as large scale social and economic projects to promote private investment and poverty alleviation. Other areas of focus should include: climate change adaptation projects, technology transfer, capacity-building, human resource development, and institutional reform.
Ms. CASAR underscored that implementation of the post-2015 agenda would require a broad partnership. High-quality and predictable ODA would remain important for poverty eradication. ODA should be better-targeted using a variety of indicators to determine development needs, such as in the case of middle-income countries. Donors were increasingly interested in the role ODA could play in increased private sector investments.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Bangladesh asked what would constitute “adequate” funding in the post-2015 period.
The representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said most countries spend money on harmful energy subsidies, which needed to be reformed, post-2015.
The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted the conversation had not taken into account ODA that went towards financing the core functions of multilateral institutions.
In response, Mr. Solheim agreed that the amount of money going to the fossil fuel subsidies was staggering, and often larger than the amount of money developed countries spent on health care and education.
Mr. GERO AMOUSSOUGA noted that the court of public opinion, often driven by the population’s needs, made it hard to make sweeping structural changes, including in the area of fossil fuel subsidies.
Mr. ALONSO said aid generated possibilities for development and opened up opportunities for economic and social change.
Mr. NGUYEN said determining how to use ODA effectively was even more important that the volume of the ODA received.
The representative of Rwanda asked whether it was envisaged that in the post-2015 period non-concessional loans be made available for countries that were making progress and moving into middle-income status.
The representative of France questioned how to strike the balance between redistributing aid and supporting economic growth.
Mr. Géro said the most significant ODA would be that which was routed through multilateral channels.
Mr. Solheim said there must be distinctions between grants and loans, although developing countries needed both.
The representative of the UK Aid Network said it was concerning that the conversation was focused on how to mobilize ODA for private sector investment, rather than focusing on normal market interventions to help those most in need.
The representative of Mexico said ODA would have an important catalysing effect, but the approach must be strategic and in coordination with domestic resource mobilization efforts.
Mr. NGUYEN said Viet Nam had an ODA utilization strategy which focused on how to coordinate with development partners and best use the resources made available.
Mr. ALONSO said it was unquestionable that the bulk of aid should go to low-income countries, although that brought into question the parameters for determining what constituted a low-income country. However, the aim was to not finance but mobilize change.
María Emma Mejía Vélez ( Colombia), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, introduced the last panel of the day, “Learning from South-South cooperation in looking to the future”. She stressed that South-South cooperation was not a substitute of North-South cooperation but a complement. However, there was much to be learned from Southern partners.
Moderating the panel was Afaf Konja, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly. Panellists were Mohammed Al-Jasser, Minister of Economy and Planning, Saudi Arabia; María Andrea Alban, Director, International Cooperation, Ministry of External Relations, Colombia; Fernando Jose de Abreu, Director, Cooperation Agency, Brazil; and Mehmet Süreyya Er, Vice-President, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).
The lead discussants were Kumar Tuhin, Joint Secretary of Economic Relations and Development Partnership, Ministry of External Affairs, India; Thomas Fues, Head of Training Department, German Development Institute; and Paulo Esteves, Supervisor, BRICS ( Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Policy Center.
Keynote addresses were delivered by Aiqing Fang, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Commerce, China, and Martin Rivero, Executive Director, Uruguayan Agency of International Cooperation.
Ms. KONJA said the forum prided itself on delivering pragmatic information, learning from South-South cooperation during a time when the international community was focusing on eradicating extreme poverty and pushing forward a transformative post-2015 agenda.
Mr. FANG said that the global recovery had been slow and painful, particularly for least developed countries. Developing countries were challenged to improve the lives of their populations and improve their economies and South-South cooperation had played an important role. While focusing on its own development, China had contributed to the efforts of the other developing countries. South-South cooperation, in a spirit of non-interference, equality, and impartiality, among others, included inclusive growth focusing on people’s urgent needs, enhancing their well-being and promoting a balanced development of the global economy. China had focused on education, access to water, infrastructure, and reducing poverty, to name a few. It had also stepped up its environmental protection assistance and helped with climate change.
Because South-South followed the principle of mutual benefit, he said, it emphasized capacity-building to help countries develop their own talents and choose their own models of development. The principle of common development meant enjoying the full benefit of globalization, he said, pointing out that when that principle was engaged “one plus one makes more than two”. His country’s growth had been the largest markets to the least developed countries. South-South also played a positive role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The post-2015 development agenda should be consistent and forward-looking, with sustainable development at the core. The international community should help developing countries strengthen capacity-building while enabling developing countries to take advantage of their resources.
In the second keynote address, Mr. RIVERO said there was much activity around South-South cooperation, particularly in the last three to four years when 115 events on the item had taken place around the world. There was an effort to develop more precise data on the quantitative and qualitative value of South-South cooperation to development. A global report on South-South cooperation would go a long way to bettering people’s understanding and assessing its value.
The report should also be flexible to adapt to different understandings, practices and visions around South-South cooperation. Such a document also needed to feature an incremental approach to common understandings of technical terms and methodologies. The report should collect all the data available worldwide with a common technical understanding and methodology. The next steps in developing such a report would be to agree on the principles and nature of the proposed global report. There must also be agreement on the nature of the resources involved, as well as the mechanisms employed.
Ms. ALBAN noted there had been intensive dialogue in the last 10 years, following the increased international attention paid to South-South cooperation. Such cooperation helped create shared agendas to build capacity at the national and regional levels. Colombia recognized that such cooperation fostered development, through which countries benefited from exchange of know-how from those who had overcome development challenges. Colombia had several joint projects which allowed partners to have a clear view on the country’s capacities and strengths. More than 66 projects were under way in Colombia and a fund had been established, specifically dedicated to South-South cooperation.
Mr. DE ABREU said that South-South cooperation needed to be understood from the reality on the ground. Common problems and experiences led to common solutions in South-South cooperation, noting that Brazil was connected with 98 different countries of the South. In Africa, Brazil was working with Mali, Chad, Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo in growing different Brazilian and African varieties of cotton and seeing which would be the best to produce. That commodity would then be used in both Brazil and Africa. Brazil was also working with Jamaica, exploring sickle-cell disease, and collaborating with them based on their own experience. Another benefit was the operational costs in South-South cooperation. His country paid the costs of its own experts’ travel and accommodations, but did not charge anything to recipients. That resulted in only 10 per cent of traditional costs being incurred. Non-conditionality was also the foundation.
Mr. AL-JASSER said that for South-South to be effective, all donor countries should keep their commitment of their ODA target of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product. Local leadership and ownership, as well as national coordination, needed to be strengthened, along with communication between countries of best practices and lessons learned. The Arab Development Group focused on bringing aid delivery to the fore. Saudi Arabia had exceeded the Millennium Development Goals, but in regard to the post-2015 agenda, countries would have to work collectively on achievable goals. Because development could not happen in an unstable environment the international community needed to work towards ending conflicts. He also urged that controversial issues be avoided as it undermined collective efforts. Taxation of energy in poor countries also should be avoided, while excessive agricultural subsidies in developed countries should be addressed. The economics of development needed to transform to the economics of efficiency, as the utilization of aid was more important than the size.
Mr. SÜREYYA ER reported on the first meeting of the Core Group of Southern Partners, which took place in December 2013. At the meeting, the Group discussed the key principles of South-South cooperation and the future operation of the Core Group. The meeting resulted in an understanding that despite a diversity of practices around South-South practices, common ground existed. The Group also identified challenges facing South-South cooperation and recognized that the concept of South-South cooperation is still in the embryonic stages. It was envisioned that in the future, the Group would offer partners a dedicated platform for discussion and provide conceptual support to facilitate the sharing of knowledge. It was agreed that the Group would meet regularly, on the margins of other larger meetings and that membership would be open to all.
Mr. TUHIN said development activities should not be grouped into a single framework under South-South cooperation. Development cooperation was evolving globally, but its basic parameters should not change, particularly the important role of ODA. South-South cooperation was a value, rather than an institutional framework. Flexibility and diversity were crucial to the success of South-South cooperation.
Mr. FUES said the role of South-South cooperation in the post-2015 agenda would not come about automatically. It was up to the Governments to create the factors that would enable that. The network of think tanks and universities that included scholars from the South would be publishing a report addressing studies on South-South principles, institutional frameworks, delivery modalities, data collection and dissemination. Those issues would be a decisive issue on the success of that cooperation. Southern providers were reluctant to fund such studies and he called for them to provide funds for studies from think tanks of the South. He also called for a global report on bringing together all aspects of South-South cooperation.
Mr. ESTEVES noted the evolving nature of development cooperation was characterized by a growing visibility of South-South cooperation and the relevance of private investments and trade. Donor countries were linking aid to politics and economics. However, the connection between development cooperation and the private sector should be addressed by South-South cooperation and by traditional donors. The relationship between development and private investment and the “win-win” situation could be problematic. Self-reliance, especially in Africa, focused on structuring cooperation to foster self-reliance and overcome the limitations of capacity-building, not just within the State but within the social context. However, some initiatives were socially weak because of the lack of support from the recipient-partner society. Without public and social support that cooperation could not be sustainable over time.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Mexico said there were several challenges associated with the effectiveness of South-South cooperation; however, the efforts that had been undertaken with regard to reporting were important steps forward.
The representative of El Salvador said her country had a great amount of experience with South-South cooperation in the areas of gender equity and health.
The representative of Ecuador said the efforts of regional organizations could have a unifying, multiplying effect on South-South cooperation.
The representative of the United Kingdom agreed that South-South cooperation was not a substitute for North-South cooperation. He also pointed out that in some respects, the North could learn from the South.
In closing remarks, Ms. KONJA said practices like technology transfer, the promotion of solidarity, ownership for growth and promoting the resilience of the countries made South-South cooperation powerful. It was the window to greater social and cultural understanding, stimulated capital flows, enabled mobility and built trust among nations of the global South. However, it could not deliver without the inclusion and empowerment of human beings.
Ms. VÉLEZ, in closing the afternoon session, noted that rather than one-way cooperation from North to South, a multidirectional approach to sustainable development was being engaged. She also announced a new financial platform with the launching of the BRICS New Development Bank, an initiative with huge capital that would support financial architecture around the world.
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