Press Conference on Launch of Online South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism

23 May 2012

Press Conference on Launch of Online South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism

23 May 2012
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Launch of Online South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism

The concept of South-South cooperation was alive and well and moving into a more dynamic phase as Member States debated their ideas regarding which direction to take the concept going forward, the President of the United Nations High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, John Ashe, said today at a Headquarters press conference in the lead-up to the launch of a South-South cooperation exchange mechanism by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Joining Mr. Ashe at the briefing were Amina Mohamed, UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director; Tomoko Nishimoto, Director of UNEP’s Division of Regional Cooperation; and Yiping Zhou, Director of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Reporting on the seventeenth session of the High-Level Committee, which got under way yesterday, Mr. Ashe, who is the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda, said a number of themes had emerged during the general debate.  Especially noteworthy was the “health” of the South-South cooperation concept and its transition to a more dynamic phase.  The second dominant theme was the idea that, as the world moved deeper and deeper into South-South cooperation, the focus should be directed more on the vulnerable peoples, and countries, such as the least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing States.

He noted that, although everyone agreed that South-South cooperation was an increasingly important tool, it should not be seen as a replacement for the traditional North-South and triangular cooperation, but as a complement.

Ms. Mohamed described the first part of the session as “extremely exciting and productive”; the forum had been a collaborative one at which UNEP had listened to a broad spectrum of speakers from government and the private and other sectors.  She said promoting social economic transformation through infrastructure development, employment creation and social cohesion, and technology transfers using South-South cooperation would be the theme this afternoon, chosen to coincide with the launch of UNEP’s online initiative.

Given the global events of the past few years, never had the lens of job creation, social transformation and technological skills transfer been more relevant or pressing, she said, noting:  “The world grows flatter by the day, in fact, maybe by less than the day.  Meanwhile, donors and aid recipients from across the globe continue calling for increased aid effectiveness, transparency and for unity.”

She said South-South cooperation, over the course of many decades since its ideological inception in the 1950s, had sought to enhance traditional North-South aid mechanisms across multiple fronts:  trade and business development; infrastructure creation; capital investment; military cooperation; and even university partnerships, among many others, including in the environment and sustainable development sector.

Despite the sustained expansion and implementation of the concept, an increase in isolated South-South initiatives alone was not enough for its success.  Innovations such as online forums and social networking sites played an extremely important role in enhancing transparency and access to information and to different programmes.  “And that is the most effective way to share knowledge and to build capacity,” she declared, adding, “to that end, I am pleased to be here to launch our new South-South cooperation exchange mechanism, the first online portal of its kind dedicated to facilitating information exchange; to facilitating developing networks of practitioners and serving as a clearing house for news, for events, for case studies, for blogs and for other tools related to South-South cooperation in the environmental sector”.

She explained that the mechanism had the potential, not only to raise awareness about current environmental South-South programmes that were currently under way across the globe, but also to facilitate and expand South-South and triangular programmes — with the aim of enabling communities to manage their natural resources, protect the environment and sustainably experience economic and social development.

Via a PowerPoint presentation, Ms. Nishimoto outlined the details and the various facets of the exchange mechanism.  She encouraged everyone to visit the site, and to start blogging and searching the case studies that would be posted there.

Mr. Zhou implored the media — as the “eyes and ears and mouths of the people that need help” — to help those that were helping themselves.  South-South cooperation, he added, was about people helping people, especially poor countries helping poor countries, with the support of the United Nations and the donor community.

Asked how success of the programme would be determined, Ms. Mohamed said that would be measured by the usage:  “If Governments find it useful and keep us extremely busy by uploading information on the portal, then we’ll think it has been an extremely successful tool for them.  If not, we will have to find other ways, including appealing to you as journalists to ensure that this information gets out to those that need it.”

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.