South-South cooperation: 40 years after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action

More than 120 high-level experts from government, academia, civil society, private sector and multilateral organizations gathered in Buenos Aires for a three-day Development Cooperation Symposium convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Government of Argentina to discuss challenges and opportunities for South-South and Triangular cooperation in the framework of the Sustainable Development.

The event, which took place at the San Martin Palace which houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, had as its main objectives to make an updated overview of the challenges and opportunities faced by South-South and triangular cooperation 40 years after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action to identify distinctive elements that may contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, based on experience and best practices.

“BAPA+40 will happen against a backdrop of a global South that is economically empowered and has developed important capabilities,” said UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin during his closing remarks. “There are new challenges to all states: among them, the real threat to multilateralism. South-South and triangular cooperation can contribute to a new multilateralism and drive the revitalization of the global partnership for sustainable development.”

In this context, the UN has a unique role to play. “The United Nations is an inclusive and impartial place to discuss South-South and triangular cooperation and to learn how to overcome the challenges of mainstreaming sustainable development at the national level,” said Mr. Zhenmin.

Speaking on behalf of the host country, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Faurie remarked that Agenda 2030 is “a paradigm shift for which we need collective responses to integrate the vision and the efforts of all international cooperation actors, without exclusions.” Argentina’s Vice President Gabriela Michetti noted that “Argentina has a strong commitment with multilateral institutions and mechanisms as the best way to solve and deal with global shared challenges.”

Also speaking during the opening session, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, said “The current global context marked by the weakening of multilateralism contributes to the deterioration and in some cases to the abandonment of a cooperation agenda consistent with the commitments made by the international community in the framework of Agenda 2030.”

“South-South Cooperation is a demonstration of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes to their national well-being, national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals,” said Silvia Espíndola, Undersecretary of International Cooperation of Ecuador, representing the Group of 77.

Stressing the theme of inclusiveness, Mr. Liu Zhenmin remarked: “South-South and triangular cooperation must take inclusiveness to a new level. While governments have the principal role of coordinating and leading development efforts, all actors and beneficiaries must be meaningfully engaged in the process,” he said.  “There is some progress in developing legal and institutional framework to foster effective multi-stakeholder approaches, and we need to build on this.”

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