South-South cooperation and LDCs

South-South cooperation –  “whereby two or more developing countries pursue their individual and/or shared national capacity development objectives through exchanges of knowledge, skills, resources and technical know-how, and through regional and inter-regional collective actions”[1] – has become increasingly important. LDCs have been actively involved.

South-South cooperation involves more than governments. It includes partnerships with and between “regional organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector, for their individual and/or mutual benefit within and across regions.” For example, the Least Developed Countries Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC) is a south-south, long-term capacity-building programme involving universities in LDCs to build capacity to address climate change.

Many developed countries and multilateral organizations support South-South Cooperation through what is known as triangular cooperation.[2]. South-South and Triangular cooperation can be leveraged to scale up successful development policies, best practices, knowledge sharing and transfer of technology, and are playing an increasingly important role in addressing the development challenges of LDCs. There are numerous cases of South-South and Triangular cooperation involving LDCs. For example:

  • The LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development (LDC REEEI) initiative is  dedicated to driving transformative change towards universal energy access and the transition to renewale energy and energy efficiency in all LDCs.  It is fully owned and driven by LDCs.
  • Brazil and Germany have implemented projects on institutional strengthening of the National Institute of Metrology and on risk management and prevention of natural disasters in Mozambique.[3]
  • Purchase from Africans for Africa, known as PAA Africa, is a Triangular Cooperation arrangement between Brazil and five African LDCs, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal, supported by WFP and FAO. PAA Africa aims at promoting food and nutrition security through pilot technical cooperation projects.[4]
  • The Neighboring Countries Economic Development Fund (NEDF) formed in 1996 formalized cooperation of Thailand with Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar (in addition to the non-LDC Viet Nam). The Phone Hong Hospital development programme is one of the current initiatives.
  • Thailand has cooperated with Mozambique and Lesotho on fisheries and agricultural projects.[5]
  • The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched by China in 2013, includes projects with more than 100 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe, integrating resources and building long-term and multidimensional partnerships. [6]. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) is partnering with governments and research institutions on a multi-year project to “strengthen national capacities for jointly building the Belt and Road towards the Sustainable Development Goals”, funded by the 2030 Agenda Sub-Fund of the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund. The project scales up the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in support of South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation. Several LDCs are among the pilot countries. For more information, please visit

LDCs also collaborate with each other in international negotiations such as those on climate or trade, sometimes negotiating as a group.  More information on the LDC Group in climate negotiations here.

[1] United Nations, ‘Framework of Operational Guidelines on United Nations Support to South-South and Triangular Cooperation,’ High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, New York, 2012 (SSC/17/3). The definition is based on the Nairobi Outcome Document, negotiated at the UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation and adopted by the General Assembly in December 2009. According to this definition, all developing countries are considered as part of the Global South, and equal partners in South-South Cooperation.

[2] United Nations, ‘Framework of Operational Guidelines on United Nations Support to South-South and Triangular Cooperation,’ High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, New York, 2012 (SSC/17/3).


[4] Brazilian Triangular Cooperation in Social Protection: Contribution to the 2030 Agenda, 2016 UNDP

[5] South-South in Action Sustainability in Thailand: Experience for Developing Countries (UNOSSC).