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

Opening Remarks
Meeting of the Core Group of Southern Partners

Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 3rd meeting of the Core Group of Southern Partners.

South-South cooperation has become increasingly visible in international cooperation for development, offering solutions to address a diverse range of issues such as gaps in infrastructure, social protection as well as environmental sustainability.  South-South development cooperation accounts for about 10 per cent of international development cooperation.

South-South trade represents over a quarter of world trade. South-South FDI showed resilience despite the economic crisis.  

Southern partners are assuming greater responsibilities at their own pace, in spite of their tremendous domestic challenges.

The 15 countries of this Group are the main partners in South-South cooperation by the volume of development cooperation provided. However, many face daunting development challenges. For example, three countries have about half of their population living in poverty, while five countries have about a quarter of their population living in poverty.

Today, the South has become an increasingly diverse group in terms of the size of their economies and capabilities, but the concept that underpins their past cooperation remains robust. It is exactly the spirit that makes the South the South.

There are expectations that south-south cooperation may fill the gaps left by the unmet ODA commitments and consequently be subject to the standards governing traditional development cooperation.

As repeatedly called for by the Secretary-General, ODA commitments must be fulfilled. Assigning more responsibilities to the South while reneging on ODA commitments will simply compromise the spirit of partnership and trust building.

While encouraging and promoting effective and responsible South-South Cooperation, we must also respect the sensitivity of accountability in the context of South-South cooperation. Southern partners tend to perceive accountability as a matter of national sovereignty. A third party or international institutions should play a facilitating and supporting role whenever requested.

Dear colleagues,

South-South cooperation is not static. New issues and challenges are emerging.

The Core Group was formed exactly to enable solutions to addressing emerging needs, concerns and challenges. Last June in Addis, you identified five priority issues, namely, principles, definition, measurement and indicators, framework of understanding and renewed global partnership for development.

The work of the Group over the past year has revealed the wealth of your principles and approaches in development cooperation. You expressed the desire to learn from each other in a more systematic way. In the meantime, there is a proliferation of reporting on South-South cooperation, mostly not led by the South.

In my view, the most authoritative account of south-south cooperation should also come from you, southern partners. I am aware that efforts are already underway at regional level.  Preparatory work needs to be initiated to a larger extent.

At the last meeting in Mexico, a proposal to prepare a report by southern partners was tabled. The report is expected to articulate your own perspectives, activities and practices. We were also reminded that there is a qualitative difference between reporting and report. You will not report to a third body. The report will be defined and led by you and serve your needs solely.

It is my understanding that Mr. Martin Rivero, Executive Director, Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation, will share some concrete ideas based on the experience of Latin-America. I look forward to hearing his presentation. DESA and the Office of South-South cooperation will be available to support you if and when requested.

Let me now turn to the second agenda item. There has been increasing interest to systematize the sharing of information and expectations about the work of the Core Group among the members of the Group. Virtual platforms provide certain means to do so. But, more regular and interactive, preferably face-to-face communication is a preferred way of working, which will allow you to dedicate time to the work of the Group during an extended period of time. I welcome your ideas in this regard and invite you to consider hosting the next meeting of the group.

I wish you fruitful discussions. Thank you.