Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Remarks at Conference of South-South Cooperation Partners

Mr. Ranjan Mathai (Foreign Secretary, Ministry for External Affairs),
Mr. Dinesh Bhatia (Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs),
Dr. Biswajit Dhar (Director-General of RIS),
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank the Government of India and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries for launching this first dialogue of South-South cooperation partners.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is very pleased to support this initiative. I am also delighted to address the opening of this Conference.

India has long played a pivotal role in pioneering and promoting South-South cooperation.

Three weeks ago, at the Durban BRICS Summit, the five emerging economies took an historical step, by setting up the BRICS development bank and reserve fund.  The key elements of this initiative were nurtured here in New Delhi, during the 4th BRICS Summit last year.

So, we find ourselves with fine hosts and on fertile ground to begin this new dialogue among South-South cooperation partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The past 60 years – and especially the last 10 – have witnessed fundamental transformation of South-South cooperation. New contours are emerging.

South-South cooperation is no longer a one-way flow. Developing countries, as a group, now have a broad range of modern technical competencies, with centres of excellence across countries.

All countries, big or small, have something to offer. Many low-income countries, for example, are now transferring technology and solutions to the emerging economies.

The approach and platform for South-South cooperation have become increasingly diversified. Guided by common principles, South-South cooperation partners embrace a wide range of approaches, reflecting their very different development paths, priorities and unique strengths.

Regional groupings, country-continent forums (such as China-Africa, India-Africa forums) and bilateral institutions are evolving – and they are yielding concrete development results.

Mutual benefit has driven this transformation. It has boosted the scale and depth of South-South cooperation.

Trade, investment and development cooperation that benefit all partners, has ensured the test of time. Closer cooperation has, in turn, fostered strategic collaboration in global affairs.

Yet, South-South cooperation is still far from realizing its full potential.


What brings you all here today is a shared sense that South-South cooperation can be much better leveraged – for mutual benefit and for stronger impact on global development.

The question is how. Allow me to suggest a few concrete steps.

First, evidence-based analysis of South-South cooperation needs to be improved.

South-South cooperation has evolved far beyond its original forms, encompassing financial and monetary cooperation, sharing of knowledge and experiences, and technology transfer. The ways to assess the impact of South-South cooperation must be up-to-date.

Evidence based analysis must be demand-driven. It should be initiated by, and respond to, the needs of South-South cooperation partners. Such analysis can also work to clarify some misunderstanding about South-South cooperation. This dialogue is timely and can help to spur concrete steps in this direction.

Second, we need to strengthen institutions.  While there are a growing number of opportunities for dialogue on South-South cooperation, none of the existing institutions or platforms adequately address the emerging demands, challenges and common concerns of South-South cooperation partners.

This Conference provides an opportunity to consider institutional options to foster cohesion and joint action among South-South cooperation partners, both to engage in global processes and to address the needs of beneficiary countries.

Whatever the institutional setup – building on existing institutions or creating a new one – it needs to be tailored to the new contours of South-South cooperation.

Thirdly, multilateral support needs to be enhanced. As conveners, multilateral organizations must ensure that they provide support to all constituencies. Their business models and operations should be made flexible and cost-effective to accommodate the different approaches of South-South cooperation.

South-South cooperation should also be mainstreamed in the corporate strategies, programmes and resources allocation of multilateral institutions.

Last December, the UN General Assembly, in a landmark resolution (67/226), called on the entire UN development system to mainstream South-South cooperation in regular country-level programming.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Growing South-South cooperation comes with new expectations, on all sides.

Partners in South-South cooperation demand tailor-made support and long-term impact. 

Major providers of South-South cooperation seek greater voice in global governance and agenda setting. The formation of various global groupings and alliances of developing countries shows a desire to rally collective strengths to address common quests.

There are also calls to apply global assessment frameworks to South-South cooperation. Improving the transparency and accountability has been at the core of such efforts. South-South cooperation partners, pointing to the distinctiveness of South-South cooperation, are calling for differentiated frameworks and responsibility.

These issues have permeated recent intergovernmental negotiations and will surely resurface in the ongoing preparations for the post-2015 global development agenda.

Coming together – to identify and address common challenges – will position South-South cooperation partners to strengthen their impact on the global policy dialogue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope that this meeting will lay the foundations for further work on the issues that I have identified. I would like to assure you that UNDESA will be there to facilitate future work in this area.

I wish you productive deliberations.

Thank you.

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