BUENOS AIRES, 20 March — Amid complex and rapidly evolving global challenges, the tried-and-tested platform of South-South cooperation — a system of exchanging knowledge and resources between developing countries — must play a prominent role in eradicating poverty and reducing gaping inequalities, participants stressed as the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) opened today.
Delegates reconvened in the Argentine capital four decades after their adoption of the original Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, a landmark agreement often credited as the blueprint for the unprecedented economic growth of developing countries — also known as the “global South” — in recent decades. While speakers throughout the Conference’s opening day hailed those strides, many also spotlighted persistent and emerging challenges, warning that even stronger cooperation will be needed to tackle such looming threats as climate change, spiking energy demands and widening rifts between haves and have-nots around the globe.
“Globalization has enabled many people to escape poverty, but its benefits are not shared equitably and its costs fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in opening remarks. Enhanced cooperation can help developing countries learn from each other and grow more quickly, close income gaps and build inclusive, resilient societies. Noting that the world has borne witness to the power of South-South cooperation for the last 40 years, with millions emerging from poverty, he nevertheless warned that countries now face new challenges. In that context, he welcomed delegates back to Buenos Aires and urged them to ensure that South-South cooperation adapts to the planet’s evolving realities — including climate change, “the defining issue of our time”.
Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, also delivered opening remarks, following his election by acclamation as President of the Conference. “The time has come to think of new areas of cooperation,” he said, agreeing that the many complex, interlinked challenges facing the international community today require even stronger partnerships. Expressing hope that far-reaching debates throughout the meeting will bolster innovation, he urged participants to translate the achievements of the global South for the benefit of all people, declaring: “Let us show the world everything we have to give.”
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Secretary-General of the Conference, pointed out that 40 years after the first Buenos Aires conference, intra-South trade levels now account for a full quarter of global trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) outflows from developing countries represent one third of all such flows. “Today, solutions from the South are delivering lasting results around the world,” he said, citing such examples as an exchange between Colombia and the Dominican Republic on climate-resistant rice and an Australia-China-Papua New Guinea pilot programme to tackle malaria. Indeed, he said, four decades after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action’s adoption, South-South cooperation’s role in the development landscape is indispensable and ever-growing.
Adonia Ayebare (Uganda), President-designate of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, said the global South’s strong economic performance has enabled its countries to achieve important milestones, including in reducing poverty and extreme hunger and improving education and health services. Welcoming the emergence of new financing sources in the South, such as regional and national development banks, he warned that, despite rapid progress, many countries — particularly least developed ones — still face poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and serious deficits in their infrastructure and productive capacities. In that context, he urged the United Nations to intensify its support and called on Member States to support the Organization’s Office for South-South Cooperation.
As the Conference began its general debate, Heads of State joined other high-level officials, as well as representatives of United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations and other partners, in discussing the challenges and potential of both South-South and traditional North-South development assistance. Many spotlighted sustainable urbanization, agriculture, climate change mitigation and trade as crucial avenues for revitalized partnerships. Meanwhile, some speakers expressed concern about escalating levels of national debt and the structural obstacles facing middle-income countries, small island developing States and other nations with unique circumstances.
Mario Abdo Benítez, President of Paraguay, said every country confronts specific challenges in its path towards sustainable development. Paraguay, a landlocked developing country, faces unique hurdles due to its geography. Stressing that a nation’s development cannot be measured by its gross domestic product (GDP) alone, he said Paraguay has focused on shifting from being exclusively a recipient of cooperation to a country that actively offers cooperation to others. Noting that its development plans are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said national policies also ensure a focus on human rights. “The transformations under way are irreversible,” he stressed, adding that international relations must be built on freedom, democracy and solidarity.
Jerome Xavier Walcott, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados, said that, without a firm commitment to South-South cooperation and a strengthened resolve to harness that framework, countries will continue to struggle to fulfil their commitments under the 2030 Agenda. Recent years have seen changes in the development assistance landscape that have not generally benefitted developing countries. “In this challenging environment, it is all the more vital that we leverage our strength as a group to ensure that our voice is heard,” he stressed, urging countries of the South to exert the weight of their bargaining power in multilateral negotiations. Noting that many Latin American and Caribbean countries have led the way, he cited the example of a green economy knowledge transfer platform in Barbados among small island developing States, which will serve as a hub for exchange and capacity-building on inclusive green economy principles.
Also citing vast changes in the global development arena was Miguel Vargas Maldonado, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, who said today’s landscape features the involvement of local governments, parliaments, academia and civil society. Describing Latin America as a pioneer in those areas, he said countries of the region participated in more than 7,000 South-South development programmes between 2006 and 2015.
Riad Al-Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, was among those delegates emphasizing that South-South cooperation must be a complement to — and not a substitute for — traditional North-South cooperation. Meanwhile, South-South collaboration must be driven by countries themselves and not serve as a way to cope with the receding interest of the developed world. Noting that South-South cooperation is based on conditions specific to the historic and political context of developing countries, he stressed that its particularities must be considered in the context of national capabilities and cannot be measured in the same way as official development assistance (ODA).
Chunhua Hu, Vice Premier of the State Council of China, said that, in 2018, his country’s trade with and investment in fellow developing countries totalled $1.77 trillion and $29.1 billion, respectively. Meanwhile, China remains firmly committed to multilateralism and the principles of sovereignty, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference. Underlining the need to expand South-South cooperation into such areas as trade, investment, finance, infrastructure and environment, he declared: “China’s door will open wider, providing more opportunities to other developing countries.” The country is also finding ways to make its assistance more effective and is generating new momentum for South-South cooperation through its Belt and Road Initiative, he said.
José Condungua Antonio Pacheco, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, joined other speakers in emphasizing the importance of triangular cooperation — namely, partnerships between two or more developing countries, supported by a developed nation or an international organization. Mozambique — where agriculture makes up 24 per cent of national GDP and employs almost 70 per cent of the population — became the first African nation to build an agricultural technology demonstration centre, funded by China, in which Mozambican and Chinese experts work together to boost the quality of agriculture. Meanwhile, the country’s first breast milk bank, co-funded by Brazil, transfers Brazilian technology to reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality.
Echoing that call, Jens Frølich Holte, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that, with global rules-based cooperation under pressure, “what we need is more cooperation, not less”, as isolationism and protectionism do not promote sustainable development. In Norway, which allocates 1 per cent of its gross national income to ODA, South-South and triangular cooperation is led by the Knowledge Bank, which coordinates technical collaboration and knowledge-sharing in such areas as fisheries and hydro power. In addition, Norec is a focal point for joint efforts with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and for triangular cooperation under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee/Global Partnership Initiative, he said.
At the meeting’s outset, participants elected Argentina, in its capacity as host country, to serve as ex officio Vice-President of the Conference. They also adopted the rules of procedure, as well as the provisional agenda; approved its organization of work; elected Guinea, Morocco, Bangladesh, Iran, Estonia, Lithuania and Brazil as Vice-Presidents by acclamation; and designated the representative of Estonia as Rapporteur-General of the Conference. They further appointed Antigua and Barbuda, Chile, China, Finland, Ghana, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone and the United States to serve on the Conference’s Credentials Committee.
Also speaking were Heads of State, ministers and other high-ranking officials of Uruguay, Eswatini, Estonia, Serbia, Costa Rica (also on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries), Peru, Malaysia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Egypt, Bahamas, Qatar, Maldives, Romania, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Cabo Verde, Cuba, Georgia, Botswana, Angola, Guinea, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Myanmar, Cameroon, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala (also on behalf of the Central American region), Armenia, Viet Nam, Singapore, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Liberia, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, Ghana, United States, Syria, Solomon Islands, Iran, Yemen, Andorra and Namibia, as well as the European Union.
Delivering additional opening remarks were the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council and representatives of the private sector and civil society.
The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 21 March, to continue its work.
MAURICIO MACRI, President of Argentina and President of the Conference, said cooperation is a critical tool to promote horizontal linkages between countries with different levels of development. Pointing out that Argentina has a longstanding tradition of innovation in such areas as agroindustry, health, justice and human rights, he emphasized that there is a “great opportunity before us” to strengthen collaboration and partnership to achieve a better future.
Stressing that the many complex, interlinked challenges facing the international community today require even stronger partnerships, he said “the time has come to think of new areas of cooperation”. In that context, he expressed hope that far-reaching debates throughout the Conference will help innovate and strengthen cooperation for development. Urging participants to translate the achievements of the global South for the benefit of all people, he declared: “Let us show the world everything we have to give”, and added that “you can count on Argentina”, both to lead and to learn.
MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA GARCÉS (Ecuador), President of the United Nations General Assembly, said the world today is very different than the one that existed 40 years ago, stressing that: “It is quite clear that the countries of the South have a more decisive role to play.” South-South and triangular cooperation are powerful tools to eradicate poverty. Countless projects based on this very concept of collaboration have produced extraordinary results, such as the creation of jobs, improvement of education and the capacity to respond to natural disasters. “Our challenge starting from today is to promote these examples,” she said.
For middle-income countries, landlocked developing countries and least developed countries, South-South cooperation has been essential in helping to overcome myriad challenges, she said. It is critical to continue to provide these countries with technical and financial resources. She also underscored the need to achieve gender equality in developing countries and worldwide. South-South and triangular cooperation impacts all countries. For example, transregional technical exchanges in India, China and Brazil are essential for the future of global sustainable development. Cuban doctors deployed in Africa to help overcome the Ebola crisis have ripple effects on health in the region and beyond.
However, South-South cooperation is not a replacement for North-South cooperation, she said. Given the current wave of challenges facing the multilateral system, including growing isolationism, the best way to respond is to be even more effective. “Everyone shares the same dreams,” she emphasized, adding that “feelings of anxiety” must receive a convincing response from a multilateral system that has the capacity to guide. South-South cooperation represents the best of nations, as it shares the principles of solidarity and working for the common good. Such cooperation can embody the change the world needs and transform the future, she said.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries has been the reference point for sustainable development cooperation for 40 years and has transformed the very concept of international cooperation. The global South has borne witness to its power, with millions emerging from poverty and strong economic growth across many countries. “We recognize and celebrate the long path that we have walked together”, while also recognizing common challenges, he said. Indeed, participants have gathered again in Buenos Aires to ensure that South-South cooperation adapts to the evolving realities of global development and the changing needs of developing countries as they implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Citing growing inequality both within and between countries — which is eroding trust and deepening a sense of injustice — he cautioned that “globalization has enabled many people to escape poverty, but its benefits are not shared equitably and its costs fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable”. In that context, strengthened cooperation can enable developing countries to learn from each other and grow more quickly, close income gaps and build inclusive, resilient societies.
Describing climate change as the “defining issue of our time” — and stressing that “we are losing the race”, with 2018 registered as the hottest year on record and natural disasters in nearly every region of the globe — he noted that a climate action summit will bring leaders together on that critical issue in September. He urged participants to bring concrete, realistic plans that raise ambition on mitigation, adaptation, finance and innovation, and to support a fundamental shift to support green financing and increase investment in climate action “from billions to trillions”. South-South cooperation will be vital to ensuring mutual support and exchanges of best practices, enhancing adaptation and increasing the resilience of developing countries and communities facing the devastating impacts of climate change. South-South cooperation can also support the transformation of economies dependent on fossil fuels, he said.
Meanwhile, he said, global infrastructure and energy needs are set to expand enormously thanks to population growth and urbanization in the global South. Some 60 per cent of the area that is expected to become urban by 2030 has yet to be built. “If we get this wrong, we will lock ourselves into a high-emissions future with potentially catastrophic consequences,” he warned. However, if infrastructure is done right, it will present an opportunity for development cooperation, industrial transition and growth, cross-border trade and investment, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable development. Similarly, gender — sometimes described as “the docking station for the Sustainable Development Goals” — must be at the heart of all efforts if they are to succeed. Indeed, it has been shown that, when women have access to land and credit, harvests increase, and when girls are educated they contribute more to communities and break cycles of poverty.
Emphasizing that the multilateral development system must be better positioned to support South-South cooperation and implement the 2030 Agenda, he said multilateral institutions ,including the United Nations, have not kept pace with the evolution of South-South exchange. Pledging to ensure that ongoing reforms within the Organization reinvigorate support for South-South cooperation, he also called for a realignment of financing for sustainable development to unlock the trillions of dollars that will deliver on the 2030 Agenda’s goals and targets. “South-South cooperation can never be a substitute for official development assistance (ODA) or replace the responsibilities of the global North” as set out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Emphasizing that South-South cooperation must involve young people, civil society, the private sector, academia and others, he said it must also harness the potential of new technologies and digitalization that create opportunities and promote inclusivity.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), President of the Economic and Social Council, called South-South cooperation a key to unlocking the promise of the 2030 Agenda, noting that the 2018 Development Cooperation Forum Survey found that developing countries increasingly incorporate South-South and triangular cooperation into their national development strategies. “What strikes me is how much the current dynamism and innovation in the South-South space are cutting through business-as-usual politics and policy,” she said. Outlining various actions recommended by the Council’s Development Cooperation Forum, she said the visibility of such South-South and triangular exchange must increase, with efforts supported at all levels.
Next, she said countries and actors of the global South must be bolder in sharing their development cooperation experience, and the global North bolder in integrating it into their practices. Further, streamlining regional and national experiences in South-South and triangular cooperation into national development plans would strengthen institutional capacities and build integrated national financing frameworks. Finally, she encouraged parliamentarians, local authorities, women, civil society and youth to increase their engagement through more exchanges about leveraging comparative advantages and developing applicable policy. Ahead of its next high-level meeting in May 2020, the Forum will contribute as a “unique and trusted space” for sharing on-the-ground insights and advancing action-oriented policy dialogue. With that in mind, she shared the experience of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which through creativity, political will and effective South-South cooperation, brought to life the Argyle international airport in 2017.
“Think what the world can achieve with more broad-based, country-owned, inclusive and structured South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development,” she declared.
ACHIM STEINER, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Secretary-General of the Conference, recalled that, 40 years ago, nations adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, highlighting the importance of South-South cooperation in addressing challenges confronting the developing world. “Few would have predicted that in the 40 years [that followed] developing countries would be accounting for such levels of global economic output” as they are today, he said, noting that, in 2019, intra-South trade levels are higher than ever, accounting for one quarter of all world trade. Meanwhile, foreign direct investment (FDI) outflows from the South represent one third of all such flows.
“Today, solutions from the South are delivering lasting results around the world,” he said. Outlining several examples, he cited a vital exchange of expertise on climate-resistant rice production between Colombia and the Dominican Republic, a South-South exchange in which Cameroon learned from Ethiopia how to best implement an HIV safety net programme, an Australia-China-Papua New Guinea pilot programme to tackle malaria and an online platform pioneered in Bangladesh allowing millions of people to access free public services. Indeed, 40 years after the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, South-South cooperation’s role in the development landscape is indispensable and ever-growing.
Describing an evolution in the substantive focus on South-South cooperation — from one featuring technical and economic cooperation to one embracing the three dimensions of sustainable development — he stressed that developing countries, regardless of size or level of development, have accumulated capacities and experiences which offer cost-effective solutions that may be adapted to other developing countries, or even countries in the North. He also underlined UNDP’s strong commitment to enhancing South-South and triangular cooperation, noting that the agency’s “renewed offer” in those areas rests on several compelling comparative advantages, including its presence and trusted local partnerships in 170 countries. Moreover, he said, UNDP’s six signature solutions bring a multidisciplinary approach to keeping people out of poverty, strengthening governance, enhancing crisis prevention and recovery, promoting nature-based development solutions, closing the energy gap and advancing gender equality.
ADONIA AYEBARE (Uganda), President-designate of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, said that solidarity amongst people and countries of the global South has continued to improve the well-being of developing countries. The global South’s strong economic performance has enabled its countries to achieve important milestones, including in reducing poverty and extreme hunger. The strong economy has also helped countries of the South improve education and health services. He welcomed the emergence of new financing sources in the South, including regional development banks and other national development banks. Despite rapid progress of South-South cooperation, many countries, particularly least developed ones, still face poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and serious deficits in infrastructure and productive capacities. He urged the United Nations to intensify its support to facilitate access to knowledge and enterprise. He also called on Member States to support the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation so that it can continue to fulfil its mandate. “We must employ our collective strength in identifying and tackling challenges specific to developing countries’ circumstances,” he stressed.
ATTIYA NAWAZISH ALI KHAN, representative of the private sector, said that the concept of South-South cooperation has evolved and assumed several dimensions. “A key component in this scenario is the private sector,” she stressed, adding: “It is the engine of growth.” Private sector engagement in development processes has been at the centre of the development agenda in many international organizations. This reflects the impact of the private sector as a driver of sustainable and inclusive economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation. However, for this engagement to be concrete and effective, Governments must continue to provide a climate conducive to business and investment. It is also critical to support developing countries in strengthening micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. The private sector must be involved in public-private dialogue, engaged in investment and sustainable trade, and bring forth innovative and inclusive business models.
VITALICE MEJA, representative of civil society, said South-South cooperation is a manifestation of solidarity among peoples. Today, the world faces extreme economic, gender and political inequalities that require urgent and concrete policies. South-South and triangular cooperation should promote reforms that foster universal social protection coverage, build progressive fiscal systems and ensure living wages for all. It should also prioritize financing for gender equality and women’s rights, including by financing women’s rights organizations especially from the global South. “Citizens of the South must cease to be seen as mere beneficiaries, but as rights holders and key actors of development,” he stressed, also adding: “We should be included as key decision makers, planners, implementers, monitors and evaluators.” South-South and triangular cooperation must be based on justice and address the root causes of conflicts by desisting from land grabbing, exploitation of extractive industries or control of geo-strategic locations. Future investments must pursue a development agenda that puts people’s rights first. In involving the private sector, it should be noted, that the provision of such essential services as health, education, housing, water and clean energy should remain a core responsibility of Governments, he stressed.
TABARÉ VÁZQUEZ, President of Uruguay, recalled that, in the four decades since the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, many countries in the region — once governed by cruel dictatorships — have gained their freedom. Today, work continues among countries of the South to build a comprehensive path to development, including under the 2030 Agenda — the boldest development plan created to date. “The Sustainable Development Goals are a vision of the future we would like to see,” he said, along with setting forth a political programme for humankind as a whole. In the context of today’s complex and interdependent global challenges, the Conference presents an opportunity to build on those commitments. In addition, he said, the meeting will allow participants to consider the important matter of development measurements and indicators, as the current criteria are outdated and hinder the development of such nations as Uruguay.
MSWATI III, King of Eswatini, said that more must be done to help the global South access affordable technologies to propel structural transformation, efforts that involve working together in the spirit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Such concerted efforts will leverage the competitive edge of the South within the global market, he said, noting that Africa is working to form the African Continental Free Trade Area, enhancing trade between the continent and other regions. “Every country and region possess some unique advantages that need to be exploited and shared across the global South,” he said, expressing hope to learn lessons from the significant growth in Argentina’s agricultural and information and communications technology (ICT) industries. Advocating strategic strength through “unity in diversity”, he said agriculture is the backbone of Eswatini’s economy and an important sector for value-addition prospects, and thus, promoting both product and market diversification. However, the impact of climate change has immense effects on production. He called for investment in technologies to increase agricultural productivity at the national, regional and interregional levels in order to “produce enough food for ourselves”, and the creation of exchange programmes for young people to benefit from cooperation experiences. He thanked India for its support in conducting a participatory poverty assessment in 2018, the outcome of which will feed into policy revisions and programme development for new intervention measures.
MARIO ABDO BENÍTEZ, President of Paraguay, said that international cooperation, and in particular South-South cooperation, must play an increasingly strategic role in the current international climate. “The global reality requires us to rely on coordination to tackle major challenges that humanity faces,” he stressed. Every country confronts specific challenges in its path towards sustainable development. Paraguay, a landlocked developing country, faces unique hurdles due to its geography. He stressed that the development of a country cannot be measures by its gross domestic product (GDP) alone. Paraguay has developed its own capacities and designed its public policy accordingly. It has focused on shifting from being exclusively a receipt of cooperation to a country that actively offers cooperation to others. He noted a national platform that aims to ensure the implementation of recommendations received from human rights bodies. This system is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and is an important tool to ensure that public policy has a human-rights focus. He said he looked forward to the Third High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation, which would evaluate the work being done here today. “The transformations under way are irreversible,” he continued, stressing that international relations must be built on freedom, democracy and solidarity.
KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, recalling that the Buenos Aires action plan created a milestone platform for developing countries to share their experiences, said “we have come a long way since 1978”. South-South and triangular cooperation have become inseparable from the bigger development cooperation architecture. Just 30 years ago, Estonia was a newly independent country in transition, exactly the situation many developing countries are in today. “We were struggling to find our way to create a better future,” he recalled, thanking its partners — mainly neighbours and like-minded democracies — for their support. The key to success, however, was finding its own solutions according to its needs and challenges. Each country must develop solutions that work best in its respective culture and society. Estonia has surpassed the status of a country receiving aid and is now eager to help, particularly through its eGovernance Academy established with UNDP. Estonia also cooperates on digitalization with the African Union and together with Australia and Pacific Island States. Partnerships with business have been essential to Estonia’s success, as it learned early on to engage all stakeholders, from civil society, the private sector and volunteers to academia, scientific and technological communities and think tanks. She also highlighted the creation of the Global Digital Development Foundation in recent days, which aims to help developing countries build a digital society according to their needs. Estonia hopes to gather €1 million annually until 2020 in that pursuit.
CHUNHUA HU, Vice Premier, State Council of China, said his country is a firm advocate, active participant and major contributor to South-South cooperation. In 2018, China’s trade with and investment in fellow developing countries totalled $1.77 trillion and $29.1 billion, respectively. Meanwhile, it remains firmly committed to multilateralism and the principles of sovereignty, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference. Underlining the need to expand South-South cooperation into such areas as trade, investment, finance, infrastructure and environment, he said such assistance should be tailored to fit countries’ varied capacities. Pointing out that Beijing seeks to help more products from fellow developing countries enter its market, he declared: “China’s door will open wider, providing more opportunities to other developing countries.” It will also encourage and expand investment in such sectors as business, infrastructure and clean energy in other developing countries. Pledging to fulfil the commitment to invest more than $12 billion in least developed countries by 2030, he said China is also finding ways to make its assistance more effective and is generating new momentum for South-South cooperation through its Belt and Road Initiative.
IVICA DAČIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, said his country is interested in collaborating with countries participating in the South-South cooperation process. As a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, Serbia also welcomes triangular cooperation and the joint work being carried out by partners from both developed and developing countries. “Common challenges call for common solutions in the spirit of constructiveness, compromise and flexibility,” he said, advocating for strengthened multilateralism as well as respect for sovereign equality among all Member States. In that context, he thanked countries that have not recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, which demonstrated their commitment to international law, notably Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). Stressing that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change have given fresh impetus to South-South and triangular cooperation, he went on to outline Serbia’s commitment, notably the presentation of its voluntary national review on efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals at this year’s High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development.
RIAD AL-MALKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, recalled that, 40 years ago, the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was a major landmark for technical cooperation among developing countries. In recent decades, South-South cooperation has evolved and he welcomed the expansion of intra- and interregional initiatives that have set strategies, enhanced policy coordination and launched joint ventures to boost trade, investment and infrastructure development. Emphasizing that South-South cooperation is a complement to — not a substitute for — North-South cooperation, which remains the main channel for international development cooperation, he said it should continue to be guided by well-established principles, notably an expression of South-South solidarity and strategy for economic independence, based on common objectives.
South-South cooperation must be driven by countries of the South and must not be a measure of coping with the receding interest of the developed world in assisting developing countries. Cooperation between countries of the South must not be evaluated by the same standards as those used for North-South relations. Financial contributions from developing countries should not be seen as ODA. Such cooperation is a development agenda based on conditions specific to the historic and political context of developing countries, as well as broad-based partnership. It promotes the exchange of best practices in the common pursuit of broad development aims. The particularities of South-South cooperation must be considered in the context of national capabilities. Such collaboration cannot be measured in the same way as ODA, as its value goes beyond direct and indirect costs, he said, cautioning developed countries against reducing their commitment to allocate 0.7 of gross national income to developing nations. He reaffirmed the Group of 77’s commitment to promoting a universal, transparent, rules-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and encouraged developed countries that have not done so provide duty- and quota-free market access for all products from least developed countries.
Speaking in his national capacity, he advocated for greater international cooperation, with South-South exchanges complementing, not substituting for, North-South cooperation. Triangular cooperation is also an opportunity to enhance South-South initiatives through funding and other forms of support. While South-South cooperation has evolved its core elements — including the commitment to collective development, the promotion of human freedom, anti-colonialism and the creation of just conditions for social and economic development in peace among all States — Israel’s occupation impedes Palestinians’ right to self-determination. The international community is obliged to shoulder its responsibility to end the occupation as the greatest obstacle to stability in the Middle East, he said. Noting that the State of Palestine partners with fraternal and friendly countries through a national coordinator and guided by the principles of solidarity, he said it aims to provide development assistance and technical support to other countries.
MANUEL E. VENTURA ROBLES, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, said that, decades ago, his country decided to abolish its army and redirect those resources to development. Today, almost 9 per cent of the national budget is allocated for education and Costa Rica’s Human Development Index continues to grow. Costa Rica’s strong history of South-South cooperation has been internationally acknowledged by development partners and organizations, including the European Union, he added. Costa Rica stands ready to cooperate with countries of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, especially on environmental projects. He stressed the need to review how development is measured, underscoring that poverty is multidimensional. The interdependency and universality of the 2030 Agenda should be “our guiding star”, he added. Countries of the South require financial and technical resources. Costa Rica will continue to focus on multilateralism, sustainable development, human rights and leaving no one behind.
Speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, he underscored the solidarity of middle-income countries with other developing countries. “International cooperation is still a powerful tool for complementing middle-income countries’ efforts to mobilize public resources domestically to achieve sustainable development,” he said. Increased participation of middle-income countries in international cooperation initiatives has a multiplying effect that can benefit all developing countries. The Group notes that economic growth, in and of itself, is not equivalent to advancements towards sustainable development and does not reflect the realities in most countries. For example, at all levels of per capita income, developing countries continue to face serious challenges, including obstacles in fighting poverty and inequality. “Even high-income countries face some of these same challenges,” he added.
There are also structural gaps that obstruct inclusive growth, such as levels of savings and investment and quality of affordable public health care and education, he continued. Improvement in macroeconomic indicators does not necessarily reflect advancements in the eradication of poverty, given that high levels of inequality remain pervasive in countries classified as middle-income. Improving collection and analysis of high-quality disaggregated data is essential to understanding the multidimensional aspects of poverty and smart decision-making. Reconceptualizing the system approach to the category of middle-income countries is urgent. Middle-income countries, and particularly some of the more economically and environmentally vulnerable ones, still depend heavily on North-South cooperation, he added.
JEROME XAVIER WALCOTT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados, said that, without a firm commitment to South-South cooperation and a strengthened resolve to harness that framework, countries will continue to struggle to fulfil their commitments under the 2030 Agenda. Recent years have seen changes in the development assistance landscape that have not generally benefitted developing countries. “In this challenging environment, it is all the more vital that we leverage our strength as a group to ensure that our voice is heard,” he stressed, adding that countries of the South should exert the weight of their bargaining power in multilateral negotiations. He urged the international community to put in place a much-needed mechanism to support the establishment of a permanent South-South institution, and welcomed the proposal of a structural gap approach to tackling the obstacles faced by middle-income countries and small island developing States (SIDS). Noting that many Latin American and Caribbean countries have been leaders in those areas, he cited the example of a SIDS-SIDS Green Economy Knowledge Transfer Platform in Barbados, which will serve as a hub for exchange and capacity-building on inclusive green economy principles.
NÉSTOR POPOLIZIO BARDALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said his country’s International Technical Cooperation Policy Statement establishes South-South and triangular cooperation modalities as core principles of its development plans. As a provider and a receiver of cooperation assistance, Peru recognizes the importance of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South and the crucial commitment to self-reliance. Calling for a more holistic, predictable and sustainable approach, he said the citizen should be at the heart of all efforts, and called for innovative mechanisms to mobilize resources. Synergies between various stakeholders, including civil society, academia and the private sector, are also critical. Noting that Peru has made strides in its economic growth, he nevertheless cited several particular development challenges faced by middle-income countries like his, and stressed that more than two thirds of the world’s poor live in such countries. In that vein, he said new indicators are needed to measure development. Drawing attention to the newly established Pacific Alliance, which bring together many States along with observers from around the globe, he said the group will convene a forum in Lima in April and invited participants to attend.
SAIFUDDIN BIN ABDULLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, associating himself with the statements by the Group of 77 and China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said those involved in South-South cooperation should take advantage of the Sustainable Development Goals for increasing connections and deepening collaboration. “These are not easy or straightforward. There can be rivalry,” he said. “Nevertheless, we should be steadfast and work together better,” including on such new frontiers as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing and the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, he advocated mindfulness about the consequences of unrestrained development, stressing the importance of cooperation among developing countries — and between developing and developed nations — based on good governance and motivated towards democratization, human rights and accountability. Recalling that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director cautioned against unscrupulous ventures which can lead to problematic increases in debt, he said that, while countries claim to champion universal values, unfair trade, protectionism and double standards persist. He pointed to Malaysia’s palm oil industry in that context, which is facing discriminatory regulations by the European Union. Malaysia is committed to continue supporting capacity enhancement for developing countries by sharing expertise and development experiences through its technical cooperation programme.
JOSÉ CONDUNGUA ANTONIO PACHECO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said today’s Conference is of paramount importance, as it fits in with the spirit of multilateralism, seeking to strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation as a way for developing countries to mobilize resources to achieve sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement represent a step forward in this endeavour. He called for reinvigorating commitments made in the Buenos Aires action plan, and ensuring that commitments made today are carried out by all participating countries. Recognizing the critical role of triangular cooperation, he said developing countries face challenges due to inadequate funding and their limited scope for accessing the technologies that underpin economic transformation. Noting that agriculture constitutes 24 per cent of Mozambique’s GDP and employs almost 70 per cent of the population, he said it became the first African nation to build an Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre, funded by China, where Mozambican and Chinese experts work to boost the quality of agricultural results. The first Breast Milk Bank in the country, co-funded by Brazil, involves training activities and the transfer of Brazilian technology to reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality.
JOSÉ VALENCIA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said South-South cooperation has been essential in crafting and implementing public policy to meet emerging challenges. The vast majority of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are middle-income countries that increasingly rely on international cooperation, particularly with the decline of FDI and ODA. Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean are also experiencing unprecedented waves of migration. “This is a cross-border crisis that mainly concerns the region,” he said. Ecuador has convened two meetings on migration with the participation of a dozen regional countries and is fully focused on facilitating the orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. He called for the broadening of international cooperation to ensure that the new development agenda can be achieved holistically.
BAMBANG BRODJONEGORO, Minister for National Development Planning of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and ASEAN, said that the solid partnership between South-South and triangular cooperation has been effective in helping developing countries meet their needs. Currently, Indonesia is preparing policy needed to improve implementation of South-South cooperation. Such cooperation is a partnership among equals, he said. It is essential to continue to explore financing options for development, including with the private sector, he added, also underscoring the important work of the United Nations Office on South-South cooperation. Multi-stakeholder collaboration will unlock the potential needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda. In this regard, Indonesia has developed a platform that will help it promote multilateralism and stands ready to share its best practices with others.
SAHAR AHMED MOHAMED ABDELMONEIM NASR, Minister for Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt, said the venues for South-South cooperation range from climate change to digital transformation, infrastructure connectivity, water resource management, governance, education and health. Empowering young people and creating jobs, including by supporting start-ups and entrepreneurship, are priorities. Meanwhile, promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality is not just an obligation, but also a smart economic strategy. Against that backdrop, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi put forward a grand vision for Egypt, seeking to extend bridges of development cooperation among all nations with an emphasis on South-South exchanges. Noting that Egypt has embarked upon an ambitious and multifaceted economic and social reform programme, resulting in a more conducive environment for domestic and foreign investments, she said that sharing best practices and learning from past pitfalls is vital. For that reason, Egypt organized various South-South workshops, forums and other meetings in recent years, and established a South-South Development Academy in partnership with UNDP.
THEODORE BRENT SYMONETTE, Minister for Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration of the Bahamas, said South-South cooperation embodies the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, enabling developing countries to collaborate within a partnership of equals. A United Nations system-wide cooperation strategy is essential for improving the effectiveness, coherence, coordination and complementarity of such operational activities. He underscored the importance of predictable, sustainable funding for United Nations programming, notably in support for the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action — Samoa Pathway — outcome document. He also called for additional institutional support and the creation of innovative mechanisms in the area of climate change and disaster risk management, stressing that knowledge-sharing and capacity-building in disaster mitigation, adaptation and resilience-building is a priority for small island developing States. For middle-income countries, access to development financing and climate finance is a priority, he said, stressing that international public finance is a powerful tool to complement efforts to mobilize domestic resources. He pressed the United Nations to work with international financial institutions to devise transparent measures for assessing a country’s perceived wealth beyond per capita income, with timelines for recognizing an alternative criterion.
SOLTAN BIN SAAD AL-MURAIKHI, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, called for more cooperation and coordination in light of increasing international challenges. “We need a comprehensive review and to adopt clear stances that guarantee our interests,” he added. This Conference is a unique opportunity to move forward and enhance investments in cooperation. Qatar is committed to multilateral coordination. “South-South cooperation is vital for all of our countries,” he emphasized, adding that it is one of the main pillars of Qatar’s foreign policy. Qatar provides humanitarian and technical assistance at the international level and has held myriad summits, including one that led to the Doha action plan. It is committed to partner with countries of the South, which face myriad challenges. “We must abide by the principles enshrined in international law […] and refrain from intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries,” he added. It is regrettable that some ignore such rules in order to achieve illegitimate goals. All countries must refrain from actions that harm others. Qatar is committed to providing multi-year assistance to United Nations agencies to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
ABDULLA SHAHID, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, said the newly elected Government is committed to ensuring that his country remains a beacon of economic growth and resilience, as well as a democracy full of ambition and drive. Describing efforts to rekindle relations with the country’s longstanding partners, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, he said North-South and South-South cooperation helped the Maldives rise from the world’s seventeenth poorest nation in the 1970s to an upper middle-income country today. However, material wealth and increases in GDP per capita does not always translate to economic resilience. For small island developing States such as the Maldives, with a higher GDP and a narrow economic base, much more needs to be done. Such countries must consider the extraordinary circumstances of their environmental and ecological vulnerabilities when making important economic and commercial decisions. Furthermore, the volume of trade and economic activity are narrow, resulting in a need to diversify, which can prove challenging. In that context, he said, there is space for the global South to cooperate more extensively on commercial investments, development cooperation and capacity-building.
ANA BIRCHALL, Vice Prime Minister of Romania, associating herself with the European Union, said today’s world evolves fast and often in a volatile and unpredictable way. As its challenges and threats are increasingly interconnected, she stressed that “we should rally around collective solutions more often”. Noting that providing universal education and ensuring prosperity and wellbeing for all people is the most efficient way to prevent instability and crisis, he said the 2030 Agenda calls for deeper levels of development across the globe. Real political will is crucial, as is a special focus on young people. In Europe, countries have learned that they are better equipped to cope with challenges if they stand united. Pledging to share those best practices and lessons learned with other countries and regions, she reiterated Romania’s support for South-South and triangular cooperation platforms that can help achieve global goals. Additionally, she urged leaders to take forward the messages emerging from the present Conference to the Sustainable Development Goals summit planned for New York in September, as well as the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Sustainable Development, and to make their actions more coherent.
NEVEN MIMICA, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Union, declared: “BAPA+40 should reflect today’s reality and set out how South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation can contribute to achieving our global goals.” Both are an integral part of international cooperation for development and both offer opportunities for developing countries to build new partnerships and mobilize previously untapped resources, including financing and know-how. Underlining the European Union’s commitment to supporting South-South cooperation, he said the Conference provides an opportunity to make the latter’s contributions more visible and called for monitoring and reporting in that regard. Meanwhile, the 2030 Agenda should guide policy and action in all countries. The new European Consensus on Development — adopted by member States and institutions in 2017 — brings that universal agenda into the bloc’s development cooperation policy, he said, adding that delivering on the 2030 Agenda and leaving no one behind is the primary focus of its engagement in triangular cooperation.
ERNESTO M. PERNIA, Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning and National Economic and Development Authority of Philippines, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, ASEAN, and Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said cooperation has given Asia decades of unprecedented peace and stability. A least developing country just 40 years ago, the Philippines takes great pride in its achievements. It ranks eighth in the global ranking of gender equality, and has recently passed laws that ensure universal health care and political autonomy to Muslim Filipinos and indigenous cultural communities. Moving forward, the Philippines will enhance its engagement in Latin America and Africa, sharing its best practices in agriculture, science and technology, and disaster risk reduction. Emerging technological breakthroughs in such fields as artificial intelligence and robotics are transforming societies. “These changes will either be a boon or a bane depending on our readiness to adapt,” he added.
ELMAR MAHARRAM OGLU MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said that rapid economic growth of some major developing countries has dramatically improved the development prospects of neighbouring countries, spurring economic expansion and South-South trade and investment. The South-South learning and policy coordination and the peer-to-peer transfer of expertise and technology are effective ways to accelerate sustainable development. Azerbaijan’s approach to South-South cooperation has been based on sharing its experience and knowledge. For its part, his country is intensifying efforts to align the national development strategy with the 2030 Agenda. It is focusing on building inclusive and resilient growth, moving from oil-based to a more diversified economy, continuing investment in human development and ensuring greater connectivity to regional and global markets to unleash Azerbaijan’s export potential. Almost 2 million people have benefitted from technical assistance and humanitarian aid initiatives. Azerbaijan is an interesting example of a donor country, he said, pointing out that it provides international assistance even though 20 per cent of its territory is under the military occupation of Armenia. Azerbaijan has also provided assistance to more than 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons while reducing its poverty level from 49 to 5 per cent.
LUIS FILIPE LOPES TAVARES, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Communities and Defence of Cabo Verde, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and those who feel a more robust outcome document would have been possible from today’s Conference, said South-South cooperation allows for networking among developing countries and others, while triangular collaboration can complement such efforts as capacity-building and other forms of support. South-South cooperation should not substitute North-South cooperation, but rather, complement efforts at global, regional and bilateral levels. It also should not diminish developed countries’ provision of ODA and innovative funding. He advocated investment in institutional capacities in ways that increase the contribution of South-South exchanges in the international development framework. Cabo Verde has benefitted from and contributed to South-South cooperation, working with Portuguese-speaking countries and such non-traditional development partners as China, India and Brazil, he said, noting that its 2017 national sustainable development plan paves the way for enhancing South-South cooperation.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ, Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment of Cuba, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the 2030 Agenda called for redefining the scope of cooperation. Indeed, South-South cooperation complements developed country commitments to build a sustainable global society. Outlining challenges, he said many countries face severe poverty, extreme hunger, weak health conditions, natural disasters and high indebtedness, all of which require developed countries to comply with their commitments under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Advocating stronger multilateralism and greater United Nations involvement, he said Cuba, a small island developing State subjected to an international blockade, will continue to provide aid to the world’s most needy, without conditions and in full respect for the sovereignty and self-determination of each nation. Cuba’s contribution bears witness to the broad possibilities for South-South cooperation. It is updating its economic and social model, emphasizing cooperation with developing countries. On 24 February, Cubans approved a new Constitution, confirming the country’s commitment to solidarity and establishing guidelines for greater territorial autonomy.
DAVID ZALKALIANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, said South-South cooperation has grown dramatically in volume and geographic reach over the decades, reflecting its importance as an effective driver of social and economic transformation. Noting that South-South learning and transfer of expertise can accelerate sustainable development, he recognized the significant role of partnerships with diverse stakeholders for reinvigorating this endeavour. The need to mobilize resources has become more relevant than ever and the private sector’s potential has gained particular importance. He welcomed the expanding dialogue around different models and instruments for innovative financing from multiple players, underscoring Georgia’s interest in reforming public administration and the police, combating corruption, delivering public services and creating favourable conditions for business, taxes and customs. The Government has been sharing its experience in fighting corruption with the goal of creating greater transparency and accountability. Its innovative approach to public service delivery has drawn particular attention, with public service halls that ensure efficient delivery of up to 400 public services under a single roof frequently visited by delegations from various countries. Georgia became the first Government to use blockchain to manage property and land rights, offering a unique way to protect landowners from corrupt practices. It also developed an e-monitoring and e-coherence system for integrating the 2030 Agenda into national plans.
MIGUEL VARGAS MALDONADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, outlined his country’s strong commitment to development and the provision of global public goods that improve people’s lives. He drew attention to the possibilities for reshaping South-South cooperation, noting that, in 1978, when 138 countries adopted the Buenos Aires action plan, they worked in particular on technical cooperation. By contrast, today’s situation is marked by the involvement of local governments, parliaments, academia and civil society. Governments are challenged to ensure operational structures and programmes that include non-State actors within the framework of public-private partnerships. The Dominican Republic has adopted policies that foster South-South cooperation, creating a normative framework for the nine goals and 21 recommendations of the Buenos Aires action plan. By 2012, a national development strategy was adopted, encompassing a vision for efforts through 2030, and in 2016, an international cooperation policy for development was published, which called for advancing South-South and triangular cooperation. In 2015, the Dominican Republic made available a compendium of 29 successful practices. Recalling that developing countries lacking resources embraced South-South cooperation as a foreign policy tool, he said Latin America has been a pioneer, with countries participating in more than 7,000 such programmes between 2006 and 2015.
NONOFO EZEKIEL MOLEFHI, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration of Botswana, said that one of the major challenges that many countries continue to face stems from limited resources to fund sustainable development initiatives. It is therefore imperative to find sustainable strategies and forge new partnerships to mobilize the much-needed resources from both domestic and external sources. Botswana, a landlocked, developing middle-income country, has made notable strides in advancing its development goals. It has recognized that emerging and new technologies pose both opportunities and challenges. “We need to aggressively move towards the fourth industrial revolution, least we get left behind,” he added. Botswana has, in this regard, prioritized a move towards a knowledge-based economy. A shift from a resource-based economy will enhance the drive towards diversifying an economy currently reliant on the mineral sector. He also stressed the need to demand a fair and just international trade regime. While there have been improvements, African countries have continued to trade at dismally lower levels amongst each other compared to other regions. To this end, Botswana recently signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in hopes of reaching a wider market. Improving the fairness and effectiveness of tax systems and addressing the challenges posed by climate change is also crucial for sustainable development.
MANUEL JOSE NUNES JUNIOR, Minister of State for Economic and Social Development of Angola, said that his country is emerging from a highly destructive war and has managed to establish a democracy and provide its people with progressive levels of quality of life. Angola will continue to establish relations with various countries and transition from an economy driven by exports of raw extractive resources, particularly oil, to one driven by resource derivatives. “We do not want an impoverishing growth model for Angola,” he added. Angola will continue to invest in the development of human capital with a view to increasing the productivity of companies and their capacity for innovation. “We invite businessmen from other countries present here today to invest in agriculture, agroindustry, transport, financial sector, manufacturing, fisheries, tourism, construction and all sectors that can contribute to the diversification of the economy of Angola,” he said.
DIENE KEITA, Minister for Cooperation and African Integration of Guinea, said her country was experiencing an economic transformation. It continues to improve its business environment and quality of public services, including health care and education. Guinea has developed a number of South-South and triangular cooperation projects. It has proposed creating a capacity-building institute to promote research and development on South-South cooperation and would like to host a ministerial conference on the least developed countries. “We must welcome all the partnerships that make it possible for us to progress,” she added, expressing gratitude to all the people and countries of the South that have helped improve quality of life in Guinea.
ULAAN CHULTEM, Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia, said his country has initiated an international research centre for landlocked developing countries, committed to protecting the interests of that group in policymaking and international trade. He underscored Mongolia’s collaboration with China and the United Nations on food safety and agricultural production. Mongolia is committed to reducing all forms of poverty and reaching the status of middle-income country by 2030. It is also working to identify and approve national indicators for sustainable development targets. “Many developing countries are experiencing many challenges”, such as poverty, lack of financial resources, inequality, climate change and issues concerning food safety, he said. Implementing the 2030 Agenda is crucial and South-South cooperation has a critical role in achieving that goal. The Conference should contribute to enhancing participation of Southern developing countries in United Nations activities and improving the sharing of technology and information.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, aligning himself with the statement by the Group of 77 and China, said North-South cooperation has failed to live up to its promises, while the importance of South-South cooperation has grown substantially, expanding from technical fields to economic, social, cultural and even political domains, and now accounting for half of global GDP. Indeed, the South is poised to redefine the structure of cooperation. South-South and triangular cooperation are effective in the development trajectory of Bangladesh, which is implementing its Vision 2021 to achieve middle-income country status, and Vision 2041 to transform into a developed country. On that journey, Bangladesh will use South-South cooperation and wants to share experiences in education, agriculture, public health and governance — notably by setting up a South-South knowledge and innovation centre through which countries can advance technology transformation and share innovative practices. Stressing that much potential in Southern countries has yet to be explored, he proposed establishing a forum for development finance and economic ministers from the global South to explore potential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The availability of finance and technology for capacity-building would advance South-South cooperation manifold, he said, stressing that the diaspora of the South is expanding, contributing to the advancement of technology in host countries.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, said South-South and triangular cooperation complement each other. Triangular cooperation must improve South-South initiatives by creating capacity and helping to develop technology, he said, pressing developed countries to live up to their commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to development assistance. Bolivia has among the strongest economic growth rates in Latin America, he said, noting that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 38 per cent in 2005 to 15 per cent in 2018, while studies have found that more than 2 million people have moved into the middle class. Declared free of illiteracy in 2009, Bolivia is also implementing free universal health insurance, with a vision of development marked by social inclusion that has led to the lowest unemployment rate in South America. It is cooperating with seven countries, implementing 50 bilateral scientific and technical projects. Noting that the President has regularly stressed that there will be no peace without social justice, he said sovereignty and non-interference are required for progress on South-South cooperation in the context of shared responsibility. “We must build bridges not walls,” he said, advocating unity in order to extend the impact of South-South cooperation.
KYAW TIN, Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, said that, despite its growing potential, South-South cooperation must remain a complement to, and not a substitute for, North-South cooperation. As a country deprived of development assistance for the past two decades, Myanmar fully recognizes the role of South-South cooperation in trade, development and investment. ASEAN is a good example of South-South cooperation among 10 diverse countries. The least developed countries cannot successfully achieve the 2030 Agenda without collaboration and sufficient help from its partners. Myanmar has embarked on its own comprehensive transition. As a country striving to develop, Myanmar has adopted several pillars focused on myriad economic transformations, including creating jobs and building an investment-friendly environment. He stressed the need to provide ODA and capacity-building technologies for developing countries. Myanmar stands ready to work with both North and South partners.
ALAMINE OUSMANE MEY, Minister for Economy, Planning and Regional Development of Cameroon, supported South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives to bolster the development system. The Sustainable Development Goals are calls to transform the world and collaboration is essential to achieve them. “This Conference makes it possible to bring our actions in line with our words,” he continued. He underscored Cameroon’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Since 2009, Cameroon has been focused on implementing its own national development programme, which aims to promote growth in the private sector and strengthen good governance. “It is up to us now to make South-South cooperation truly complementary to North-South cooperation,” he added.
PRADEEP KUMAR GYAWALI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the South has developed an enormous potential for economic transformation. Progress by some has not only widened the scope of cooperation but brought countries closer to realizing collective self-reliance. Yet, cooperation needs a more meaningful form. It is time to diversify and strengthen — in scale, scope, quality and effectiveness. South-South cooperation, as a complement to, but not substitute for, North-South cooperation plays an important role in the 2030 Agenda. Highlighting what cooperation means to landlocked least developed countries such as Nepal, he called for enhanced investment to accelerate economic growth. “We know that those who have a long journey to travel should walk fast,” he said, noting that some members in the global South, despite similar development ambitions, lag behind and require more partnership. Cooperation should focus on poverty eradication, with gender equality, inclusiveness and steps to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change as guide posts. All forms of cooperation should respect national ownership and leadership, focusing on country needs and priorities, he asserted.
MARTHA DELGADO, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, said that, since 1979, the South-South cooperation agenda has intensified. Multilateral efforts have acquired greater prominence, which in turn has impacted decisions at the United Nations. The number of stakeholders involved in South-South cooperation has also increased. National agencies devoted to the topic have grown, including at sub- and supra-national levels. The agenda has also qualitatively improved, with a more professionalized knowledge of the issue today, and moved from a focus on technical cooperation to include trade, culture, coordination and other aspects. However, the participation of countries from the global South in such decisions must improve, she said, noting that middle-income countries are home to more than 70 per cent of the world’s poor, which should be a focus of South-South cooperation. For its part, Mexico is in the process of deep transformation and its President aims to build a fair, inclusive society. More broadly, she said, South-South cooperation policies must feature the least favoured sectors at their core.
JENS FRØLICH HOLTE, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that, with global rules-based cooperation under pressure, “what we need is more cooperation, not less”, as isolationism and protectionism do not promote sustainable development. South-South and triangular cooperation in Norway is led by the Knowledge Bank, which coordinates technical cooperation and knowledge-sharing in such areas as fisheries and hydro power, while Norec is a focal point for cooperation with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and for triangular cooperation under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee/Global Partnership Initiative. As the seventh largest contributor to the United Nations, Norway has allocated 1 per cent of its gross national income to ODA. South-South and triangular cooperation have played important roles in peace processes, he said, noting that the Philippines and Colombia have exchanged experiences, while Cuba and Norway cofacilitated the peace process in Colombia. In Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has supported the peace process in South Sudan, while South Africa has served as a global model for reconciliation.
JAIRO HERNANDO ESTRADA ÁLVAREZ, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, underscored the importance of respect for sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference and the constant search for mutual benefit in the context of South-South cooperation. Guatemala’s national development plan 2032 outlines its commitment to achieve sustainable development, he said, noting that the country must not be excluded from cooperation agreements. As Secretary pro tempore of the twenty-sixth Ibero-American Conference, Guatemala led a process to articulate robust positions on South-South cooperation, demonstrating that regional forums achieve better practices, ensure mutual understanding and find solutions adapted to their particular needs. With the goal of being both a beneficiary and source of South-South cooperation, Guatemala seeks to increase its portfolio of such projects. It is important to strengthen transparency and accountability, bearing in mind that public action must be at the service of citizenship. The principles of South-South cooperation must prevail, he said, cautioning against the imposition of efficiency criteria on development assistance, which hinders such efforts.
Speaking as President pro tempore of the Central American Integration System, which also includes El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic, he underscored the contribution of South-South and triangular cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda. For those countries, intraregional cooperation is a mode that promotes the exchange of best practices in sustainable development. He expressed support for the group’s five pillars, which include economic and social integration, democratic security and mitigation of natural disasters and climate change impacts. While those modalities do not substitute North-South cooperation, they are guided by joint participation, mutual responsibility, non-conditionality and non-interference. He welcomed ODA’s role in strengthening national strategies and reducing structural gaps, voicing concern about the need for economic growth criteria that considers human development.
ARTAK APITONIAN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, agreed with other speakers that international development — along with the challenges and opportunities it entails — have become much more complex, especially for middle-income countries. In light of changes manifested through the Velvet Revolution, Armenia is working to align its development plans and its ambitious national reform agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals. It pays particular attention to creating knowledge-based platforms that embrace innovation as an important tool for expediting realization of the Goals, he said, pointing out that the Global Innovation Index recently classified the country as an “innovation achiever”. Despite all those strides, Armenia — a landlocked country — faces transport and economic blockades from neighbouring Azerbaijan and Turkey. Coercive unilateral measures and the lack of a cooperative atmosphere negatively impact implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Meanwhile, the use and threat of force by Azerbaijan poses an existential threat to the security and lives of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and remain serious obstacles to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
SON THANH BUI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said countries of the South have been a major engine of global economic growth in the last four decades. With significant proactive international integration, Viet Nam’s own cooperation with developing countries has grown in a range of fields. Besides its bilateral partnerships, Viet Nam has implemented about 100 projects in the Mekong subregion and some 60 projects through the Initiative for Association of Southeast Asian Nations Integration. Outlining its support for neighbours, including the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Myanmar, he added that Viet Nam cooperates with many African countries in such areas as food security, agriculture, health care, poverty reduction and the environment. Citing “fast and profound changes in the world” and their impacts on Southern countries, he said a revitalization of South-South and triangular cooperation is needed to achieve more inclusive and sustainable development. Sharing several lessons learned, he said economic reform and active international integration are crucial, as is placing people at the heart of development planning, diversifying and expanding cooperation and upholding such shared values as multilateralism.
SAM TAN CHIN SIONG, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Social and Family Development of Singapore, said his country directly benefited from South-South and triangular cooperation as a young nation embarking on its development journey in 1965. “This diversity of development cooperation helped us get into our stride quickly,” he said, stressing the importance of such collaboration, particularly for countries with limited resources. Noting the contributions of Singapore’s cooperation programme, he said the country is committed to “paying it forward”, especially at a time when global well-being has become more fragile. Geopolitical and security threats have increased over the past four years, while risks from economic shocks, climate change and pandemics continue to cast a shadow. Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires enormous cooperation. For its part, Singapore is developing training programmes that share its experience in water and sanitation, sustainable urbanization and public institutions. It has also started a new joint training programme with Argentina and Chile to support countries in Asia and Latin America in their sustainable development efforts. Creating networks among cities has also helped build mutually beneficial partnerships that fuel the development of smart cities.
THONGPHANE SAVANPHET, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and ASEAN, said South-South cooperation has played a vital role in helping eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development. South-South cooperation should be guided by the principles of the people of the South. As a least developed country that is also landlocked, Lao People’s Democratic Republic attaches great importance to South-South and triangular cooperation. The Government has included a South-South cooperation programme into its national development plan and has identified a multipronged approach to implementation. He also noted the important work of the United Nations country teams. It is essential to deepen the understanding and modalities of South-South cooperation and encourage the development of networks that exchange best practices. He reiterated his Government’s determination to continue to support and facilitate development cooperation within the South-South and triangular context. It is vital to fight poverty and ensure that “no one is left behind”, he emphasized.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA Y GONZALEZ DE PEREDO, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America and the Caribbean of Spain, said his Government is working to create horizontal spaces for South-South cooperation. Collaboration among Ibero-American countries is an example of South-South exchange, as seen in reports of Spain’s cooperation. Since 2005, Spain has conducted triangular cooperation along two lines: support for strengthening institutions managing collaboration in Latin America, and that which bolsters the dual nature of regional countries. In triangular cooperation, Spain plays the role of facilitator between two other countries. Highlighting the “inter-connecta” programmes, which involve activities for training centres in Latin America, he said Spain would like to share its experience gained in Latin America and the Caribbean with the Sahel and North Africa. The Government promotes flexible triangular cooperation. In such efforts, process is as important as the result itself. Finally, he advocated a focus on indigenous communities and Afro-descendent populations.
ELIAS SHONIYIN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liberia, said international cooperation, once dominated by North-South efforts, increasingly features South-South exchanges, work that is reinforced by the Accra Agenda for Action and the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness, which both have “ownership” at their core. With emerging donors expected to contribute 20 per cent of funding globally, South-South cooperation at the regional level can be a major tool for political consolidation, peace and security, notably through cross-border investment and trade. Such measures have been used to boost trade among African countries seeking to reduce transaction costs and eliminate trade barriers. A practical exploration of opportunities should be enhanced within the South-South context, such as the establishment of an air travel link between Latin America and West Africa. Regional countries supported the United Nations in triangular cooperation to ensure an end to violence in Liberia and were involved in reconstruction with the provision of technical assistance in many areas. In a hybrid alignment with South-South and North-South cooperation last October, Liberia launched its five-year development framework, he said, encouraging countries to recognize the role that emerging and non-traditional donors can play in development cooperation.
LUWELLYN LANDERS, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, warned that growing inequality within and among States along with funding gaps threaten the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. South-South cooperation is one of the foundational pillars of South Africa’s foreign policy, he said, underscoring the importance of the Nairobi Outcome Document, which asserts that South-South cooperation and its agenda must be set by countries of the South. “We will continue to resist any attempt to redefine the role, scope and principles” of that type of cooperation, he stressed, adding that North-South remains at the core of development assistance. Meanwhile, the role of multilateral trade in growth and economic development — particularly in developing countries — cannot be overemphasized, he said, recalling that African leaders agreed to the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, one of the largest free trade areas in the world. Other initiatives include cooperation in the context of the “BRICS” Group — Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa — and the creation of the New Development Bank, he said.
OTAVIO BRANDELLI, Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs of Brazil pointed to an unprecedented momentum of cooperation among developing countries. One of the most important challenges to confront developing countries is the fact that ODA has stagnated and sometimes even decreased. The development of a country must be multidimensional and flexible. Brazil is satisfied with the results obtained through its humanitarian work. “We believe that prevention and building capacity and resilience can play a key role in ensuring the progress of nations,” he added. Strengthening resilience to disasters is crucial. Brazil is preparing to cooperate on a large scale with the Governments of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe following the destruction of Cyclone Idai. Brazil will continue to maintain a flexible approach to South-South cooperation, he said, underscoring the importance of partnering with the private sector. Success is linked to defining appropriate criteria for guiding partnerships.
SEDAT ÖNAL, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, recalled that his country hosted the 2017 Global South-South Development Expo in Antalya, offering a platform for development actors to showcase Southern development solutions. Once mostly limited to capacity-building, South-South cooperation today is enriched by a wide spectrum of novel approaches and must be matched with institutional arrangements at all levels. As leveraging frontier technologies is an emerging field of cooperation within the South-South and triangular framework, he said Turkey supports strengthening the science, technology and innovation capacity of least developed countries. He called on all countries of the North and South to support the Least Development Country Technology Bank, which became operational in June 2018. In achieving the 2030 Agenda through South-South and triangular cooperation, attention must focus on Africa and the least developed countries, he said, noting that Turkey’s development cooperation with the continent prioritizes technical and vocational capacity-building.
JULIUS MUIA, Principal Secretary, State Department for Planning in the National Treasury of Kenya, said his Government has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development planning process, which is also informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and Kenya’s Vision 2030. Emphasizing that all countries and living things depend on a healthy planet, he said rural communities in developing countries, in particular, are intricately interconnected with the environment. As the international community explores new economic opportunities related to green growth and technology, developing countries must form a strong nexus between sustainably managing the natural environment and the pursuit of economic growth. Currently, Kenya has one of the highest concentrations of green energy sources in Africa and has banned the manufacture and use of plastic bags. In addition, the Government has enacted measures to increase the country’s tree and forest cover and pursue a blue economy. Kenya has also moved to the forefront of support for regional interaction, for instance by providing leadership and direction to rejuvenate the African Peer Review Mechanism and becoming one of the first countries to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
DAMAS DANIEL NDUMBARO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that, while North-South cooperation has assisted a great deal in supporting growth to date, the bigger responsibility of streamlining development in the context of the 2030 Agenda “still lies on our own shoulders, us the people of the South”. The encouraging progress of South-South cooperation over the last 40 years is a testimony to the solidarity among the people and countries of the South, he said, underscoring that profound systemic changes are now taking place in global political and economic relationships. Those changes have fundamentally challenged policymaking, compelling a shift from traditional aid programmes to investment and trade partnerships. South-South and triangular cooperation can invigorate effective partnerships to promote intraregional trade and investment as a catalyst for growth, he said, urging countries of the South to commit to extending their assistance to fellow developing countries through both Government-to-Government and development-institution-to-Government and private-sector channels.
CHARLES OWIREDU, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, said the steady expansion of South-South cooperation in terms of volume, country participation and diversification offers untapped opportunity. South-South cooperation is not meant to replace North-South cooperation and must not undermine developed country commitments under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. As the resources needed for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be met by ODA alone, he urged the international community to explore means for leveraging new and innovative funding mechanisms under the South-South cooperation framework to complement ODA inflows. Interregional initiatives such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the India-Africa Forum Summit should be used to enhance implementation of the Goals, he said, noting that Ghana’s economy, like other lower middle-income countries, has limited national financial resources to invest in development. The “Ghana Beyond Aid” policy was devised to break out of the dependency mindset and the country has forged several vibrant economic and business relationships at the bilateral level with countries in the global South who come to the table with unique comparative advantages and emphasize shared values.
SUSAN FINE (United States), noting that each country must lead its own development journey, said her delegation looks forward to the day when foreign assistance is no longer necessary. The journey to self-reliance underpins the United States’ vision for building enduring partnerships and bolstering local capacity, she said, reiterating the call for results-oriented partnerships that benefit those most in need. Underlining the importance of triangular cooperation, she said the United States participates in such frameworks in an effort to strengthen institutional, citizen-responsive governance and democracy; deliver critical health care and public health interventions and energy infrastructure; and support agricultural programmes in recipient countries. Outlining various types of assistance provided by the United States, she warned that State-driven “debt diplomacy” creates dependencies that can eventually constitute very real leverage and undermine a country’s sovereignty. Development financing should not result in the accumulation of unsustainable debt and recipients must retain sovereignty and control of their economies. In order to make development sustainable and effective, it is crucial to raise standards and insist on transparency.
MAHER MAHFOUZ (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said South-South cooperation — a complement to North-South cooperation — is a form of solidarity among peoples of the South to achieve national strategies and economic independence. Any financial assistance from them cannot be regarded as ODA, as it is guided by respect for the principles of sovereignty, national ownership, non-conditionality and non-interference in the domestic affairs. Welcoming triangular cooperation in the form of financial and technical support, as well as expertise from United Nations agencies, he said such efforts must align with the national priorities of recipient countries. United Nations organizations for their part must continue to support Southern countries in expanding their commercial integration and take a stance against coercive measures, which are inconsistent with international law and the United Nations Charter. He expressed regret that the outcome document of the Conference will not condemn such measures and demand them to be lifted, as they obstruct efforts to reduce inequalities, especially in countries in crisis, and adversely impact global partnerships.
ROBERT SISILO (Solomon Islands) said South-South and triangular cooperation play a vital role in advancing mitigation and adaption measures. By sharing knowledge, countries of the South provide opportunities for each other to build resilience against shocks caused by climate change. Requirements should focus on implementation of the Samoa Pathway, which highlights the role of South-South cooperation in priority areas and embrace both intra-Pacific and inter-small island State cooperation. He advocated a coordinating role by the Pacific Islands Development Forum in collaboration with United Nations agencies. At the national level, such coordination would be undertaken by relevant institutions. A regional measurement of South-South cooperation is required to relay stories of such initiatives. Such systems should not duplicate existing efforts, but rather be demand-driven, bottom-up and people-centred, and embrace people-to-people exchanges. A balance also must be struck between learning from the outside and nurturing home-grown approaches. South-South cooperation in technological adaptation is largely untapped, he said, stressing that least developed countries can benefit by promoting the use of local knowledge and upscaling successful initiatives. He advocated duty- and quota-free access for least developed country products, noting that the Solomon Islands supports the adoption of the Conference outcome document and looks forward to its implementation.
SEYEO JALALEDIN (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, cited recent paradigm shifts driven by the mainstream policies of the global North. North-South development has proven to be less yielding than expected, he said, warning that, while South-South cooperation has indeed become crucial, it should not replace commitment-based North-South cooperation or lead to a policy space wherein the North is able to deviate from its pivotal development role. Also warning against any attempt to water down the indisputable value of multilateralism, he said such moves endanger national and international sustainable development efforts. Equally destructive is the impact of unilateralism, including through sanctions, on international development cooperation. Amid rampant sanctions, Iran continues its engagement with multilateral institutions for the sake of sustainable development in its region and beyond. Among other things, it has expanded its partnerships with the United Nations system, including the Office for South-South Cooperation, he said.
ABDULLAH AL-SAADI (Yemen) said developing countries are more able to understand each other’s experiences and needs. Noting that 2019 will see several important international development conferences and summits, he expressed hope that they will help expedite realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. Stressing that Yemen is currently going through a catastrophic humanitarian crisis as a result of an Iran-backed Houthi coup, he cited severe economic impacts, the destruction of infrastructure, vastly reduced production capacity and skyrocketing food insecurity. Houthi militias have pillaged the reserves of the country’s central bank, imposed taxes and royalties, and continue to obstruct the delivery of fuel and basic services. Despite the Government’s recovery of some 80 per cent of the country’s territory, it requires significant reconstruction assistance. In that context, he called upon delegations present at the Conference to provide support.
GEMMA CANO (Andorra) said the 2030 Agenda recognizes the outstanding role of South-South and triangular cooperation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. There are manifold advantages, she said, describing such efforts as an expression of solidarity that promotes governance and horizontal decision-making. Noting that South-South and trilateral initiatives complement traditional cooperation, she said Andorra joined the Ibero-American Programme for the Strengthening of South-South Cooperation in 2018 to bolster such initiatives. Information on 8,000 South-South and triangular projects have been collected. Indeed, South-South and trilateral cooperation represent a singular opportunity to share knowledge for addressing climate change and harnessing new technologies. She underscored the United Nations role in promoting such work, from a belief in inclusive multilateralism, as well as the undeniable role of South-South and triangular cooperation in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, which must be considered a cross-cutting issue in any sustainable development efforts.
NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia) said his country has enjoyed support from bodies and initiatives including the Non-Aligned Movement and South-South cooperation partners over several decades. Confronted with global challenges related to climate, land degradation, desertification, migration and trade issues, Namibia is committed to paying a constructive role in finding durable solutions. It is working to address socioeconomic challenges, including income disparities, high unemployment and the existence of pockets of poverty, through its Vision 2030 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan. Namibia also signed a tripartite agreement on South-South cooperation with the Government of China and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which ran from 2015 until 2017 and yielded tangible results in boosting food security. “Although anti-globalization sentiments and protectionist rhetoric seem to be permeating the current global political climate, Namibia remains positive that, through our political commitment to promote greater South-South cooperation we will deliver on the promise of growth and a better quality of life for our people,” he stressed.