BUENOS AIRES, 21 March — The Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) held three panel discussions today, tackling ways to expand the exchange of resources and know-how, strengthen institutional frameworks, and use Southern-generated initiatives to expedite progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Forty years after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries was adopted, the international system is experiencing significant structural transformation, said Abdulkalam Abdul Momen, Bangladesh’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and co-chair of the day’s first panel. Southern economies are now net exporters of expertise and resources critical to the building of resilient societies. “We need to find better mechanisms to translate comparative advantages into progress,” he said.
On a panel titled “Comparative advantages and opportunities of South-South cooperation and sharing of experiences, best practices and success stories”, Rahman Nurdun, Deputy President of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) was one of five experts sharing examples. In Somalia, the Agency set up schools and hospitals, built roads and trained doctors. In Bangladesh, it set up hot meal stands to help refugees from Myanmar. As Turkey is also a recipient country, “we know the immediate needs of partners”, he said.
Cornelia Richter, Vice-President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said the significance of South-South cooperation is reflected in the growing demand for the services of Rome-based United Nations agencies, which have embedded it as a complement to aid modalities in all their strategies and organizational structures. Anticipating that rural transformation will be central to the development discourse, she said that, for the 821 million people facing hunger and malnutrition, “we have to find the right solutions”.
Throughout the day, panellists and discussion participants alike emphasized that South-South cooperation is about solidarity, mutual respect and the promotion of common ideals. Many hailed a “new momentum in South-South cooperation” and welcomed that conversations have matured over the last four decades.
Ruy Pereira, Director of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, drove that point home in an afternoon panel on “Challenges and the strengthening of the institutional framework of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation”, stressing that developing countries have the prerogative to design and validate measurements for South-South cooperation, on a voluntary and mutually convenient basis. Describing work with other cooperation agencies in Tunisia, Mexico, Chile and Japan, he said: “We seek to ensure we are constantly involved in the dialogue on cooperation.”
At the same time, said Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, any effort to capture the unique value of South-South efforts under one reporting, monitoring and evaluation framework would mean losing out on its diversity. The beauty of South-South cooperation is found in the many aspects of its existence. As a “development compact”, country participation is better gauged through impact assessments. “We have to have the element of endogeneity in the assessment process,” he stressed.
In a parallel afternoon panel on “Scaling up the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in support of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation”, Teresa Ribeiro, Portugal’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, said a variety of actors and resources are now needed, going far beyond official development assistance (ODA) and public authorities. Development has become a shared responsibility that calls all actors — including academia, civil society, the private sector and others — to action.
Against that backdrop, Paulo Estevez, Director of the BRICS (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) Policy Centre, said developing countries still largely rely on such traditional tools as trade, aid, export credits, loans and grants. Several questions emerged from its case studies, including on how to ensure inclusive national ownership when private sector actors are involved, how to better measure impact and track results, and how to ensure coherent private sector engagement in projects featuring a mix of partners with different agendas.
Interactive Panel Discussion 1
Participants began the day with an interactive panel discussion on “Comparative advantages and opportunities of South-South cooperation and sharing of experiences, best practices and success stories”. Co-chaired by Abdulkalam Abdul Momen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, and Sahar Ahmed Mohamed Abdelmoneim Nasr, Minister for Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt, it featured presentations by Dongyu Qu, Vice Minister for Agriculture of China; Rahman Nurdun, Deputy President of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA); Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); Cornelia Richter, Vice-President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and Enrique Maruri, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Oxfam Intermón.
Mr. MOMEN said South-South cooperation reflects the pursuit of solutions to common development challenges. Forty years after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries was adopted, the international system is experiencing significant structural transformation. Perhaps most significantly, South-South cooperation benefits countries by instilling a sense of ownership of activities and projects. It involves a willingness to share experiences and can be advantageous when countries share a common problem. In terms of technical assistance, South-South cooperation is unquestionably cost-effective, and even where developing countries have sought collaboration under a triangular format, the costs are still reasonable. South-South cooperation has worked particularly well in the area of trade, with regional integration opening opportunities to reduce the costs of doing business.
Noting that many Southern countries have common vulnerabilities caused by climate change, and many have lowered greenhouse gas emissions, he said collaboration in this area will enhance the capacity of the most vulnerable to act. “We need to find better mechanisms to translate comparative advantages into progress,” he said. Noting that Bangladesh is using information and communications technology (ICT) to improve its public service delivery and in building resilience against disasters, he underscored the need for regional and global frameworks to incentivize best practices. He proposed creating a forum for development ministers to share best practices, as well as establishing a South-South knowledge and innovation centre. Today’s panel will explore the ways in which developing countries can enhance the conceptual framework for South-South cooperation, establish new frontiers for collaboration and more systematically exchange policy experiences.
Ms. NASR said countries of the global South have come a long way in fostering cooperation and knowledge sharing, finding cost-effective solutions to common problems. Peer learning has become a dynamic component of such initiatives, based on shared values and partnerships among equals. Some countries have built their capacities as new providers, creating a paradigm shift away from Northern countries and towards Southern countries as both providers and beneficiaries of shared knowledge. Stressing that South-South cooperation can expedite achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said that, through sharing national, regional and international best practices, South-South cooperation today is not limited to technical assistance and capacity-building, but rather, captures regional projects in areas as diverse as infrastructure and digital economies.
Mr. QU said China highly values South-South cooperation in agriculture, noting that it has partnered with more than 100 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, built more than 20 agricultural technology demonstration centres, fielded 30,000 experts and technicians overseas and trained more than 50,000 agricultural professionals for developing nations. It also has set up South-South cooperation trust funds in collaboration with multiple international organizations. “We are ready to share our knowledge, our technology with other developing countries,” he said, spotlighting in particular a project in which China fielded 47 experts to Uganda through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), providing “all-dimensional” technical assistance in food production. Noting that China also opened its market — the world’s largest for farm products — two years ago, he said it is pushing ahead to digitize the rural economy, an area where developing countries should pay more attention so they can roll out cross-border e-commerce. In 2018, China and FAO co-hosted the Ministerial Forum on Global South-South Cooperation in Agriculture, in Changsha, where participants declared they would adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, and the values of equality and shared benefits. Underscoring China’s commitment to mutual assistance based on respect and equality, he said that China, in pursuing a “righteous cause”, seeks mutual benefits and win-win outcomes.
Mr. NURDUN said that unleashing the potential of South-South cooperation is more important than ever, as traditional donor-recipient relationships are coming to an end. Turkey’s goal is to give South-South cooperation actors a more prominent role in global development cooperation, whether as providers or recipients. Sharing Turkey’s experience in Somalia, he said its humanitarian assistance to Somalia dates back to 2011, when TIKA began setting up schools and hospitals, building roads and training nurses and doctors. Stressing that South-South cooperation is about solidarity and mutual respect, especially for sovereignty, he cited an example of the Rohingya people crossing into Myanmar. Turkey assisted Myanmar in coping with that crisis, setting up an office there, building roads to help people receive medical treatment and rebuilding bamboo houses that had been burned down by rebels. When people later fled Rakhine State into Bangladesh two years ago, TIKA set up hot meal stands there and showed solidarity with Bangladesh by helping the refugees there for one year. It also set up mobile hospitals. As Turkey is also a recipient country, “we know the immediate needs of partner countries”, he said, noting that it has 15 offices in least developed countries. United Nations agencies can make use of South-South cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, with Southern actors taking the lead in shaping such collaboration. He encouraged countries to be innovative with existing instruments and resources.
Mr. MOREIRA DA SILVA said all countries have expertise to offer and all can learn from others’ experiences, as dynamics and modalities are constantly evolving. “The face of development is changing,” he said, stressing that 82 Southern countries are growing faster than OECD members. While South-South cooperation has mobilized significant resources, it has been more difficult to quantify the experiences gained. Stressing that the OECD Development Assistance Committee will maintain its support for partnerships, he said OECD development aid reached $147 billion and has steadily increased in recent decades. OECD also has developed a new framework for social impact investment and climate finance. Underscoring the need for more South-South and North-South cooperation, he went on to call triangular cooperation a transformative model that builds on various advantages to bring innovative solutions to development challenges. It has proven to be a mechanism that captures the diversity of stakeholders — the private sector, philanthropy, international actors and academia alike — he said, calling the recognition of triangular cooperation in the Conference’s outcome document a success. He called for transcending divides and promoting innovative cooperation mechanisms that complement traditional frameworks and contribute to the promotion of global public goods, drawing attention to “total official support for sustainable development”, a new methodology that aims to fill the knowledge gap on international cooperation for sustainable development. In line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it will complement official development assistance (ODA). It is a recipient-focused measure for responding to developing country needs to scrutinize the support they receive. It is also a methodology for measuring external resources, including in-kind technical cooperation, and aims to fully recognize the contribution of South-South and triangular cooperation in global development cooperation measures.
Ms. RICHTER, representing FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and IFAD, said the significance of South-South cooperation is reflected in the growing demand for the services of Rome-based United Nations agencies, notably in addressing agriculture challenges. Countries of the South are seeking platforms to exchange experiences and find affordable solutions. In agriculture, South-South cooperation is providing solutions to transboundary challenges, such as climate change, and increasing agricultural productivity, offering opportunities to rural areas and empowering women. Anticipating that rural transformation will be more central to the development discourse, she said that, for the 821 million people facing hunger and malnutrition, “we have to find the right solutions”, noting that rural-urban migration will create a dilemma whereby a few rural producers will need to feed growing urban populations.
For their part, Rome-based agencies have embedded South-South cooperation as a strong tool to complement aid modalities in all their strategies and in their organizational structures, she said. FAO has been a major facilitator in food security and rural development since 1996. In 2012, it set up a dedicated unit, and in 2019, an office of South-South and triangular cooperation, which is fully mainstreamed as a delivery mechanism. IFAD recently embedded South-South and triangular cooperation into its strategic framework and launched a $10 million facility to provide solutions for member States. WFP has had a policy on South-South and triangular cooperation in place since 2015 and 62 per cent of its country offices support host Governments in that regard. For FAO, South-South cooperation has evolved from being a delivery mechanism for food security to a central pillar of its work. It supports the identification, transfer and scaling up of development solutions through multiple means, notably projects using a diverse number of modalities. She called for increasing the number of databases of South-South activities, noting that mobilizing additional resources will be essential, including from international financial institutions, as will involving the private sector to provide better access to funds, markets and technologies.
Mr. MARURI asked participants: “Is there a South and who do we mean?” Indeed, there are “many Souths”. Within Southern countries, there are enormous gaps, meaning that their transition to the development process can vary greatly. Such diversity is the essence of South-South cooperation”. The fact that 1 billion people — one seventh of the global population — have been lifted out of poverty over the last 25 years is an advantage for harnessing potential. Tools used by traditional donors can be fine-tuned, and through triangular cooperation, southern practices can be adopted. The learning generated through South-South cooperation is another strength, as concepts such as “aid” and “donors” have lost their influence. Indeed, diversity, the transformative capacity of people and adaptive partnerships are three pillars on which countries must build.
Turning to the challenges ahead, he said inequality is a time bomb, pointing to the fact that 26 people have the same wealth as half the world’s population — 3.6 billion people. Climate change presents another challenge, as does migration, a public good which some perceive as an asset and others a threat, which distorts the way countries invest in development cooperation. Gender justice is another aspect and he advocated breaking the gender-labour gap, stressing that globally, men earn 23 per cent more than women on the basis of circumstances not explained by their qualifications. “This is discrimination that affects productivity,” he said.
In the ensuing debate, delegates described best practices, success stories and national collaborations with both Southern countries and United Nations agencies, with several expressing a willingness to cooperate on emerging issues such as population. Nigeria’s delegate described a body for disbursing aid and technical assistance, while Guinea’s delegate pressed donor countries to build the productive capacity of Southern countries, address the fragmentation of aid, open markets and stop “pitting the South against the North”. He also called for combating corruption and aid diversion. Jordan’s delegate, meanwhile, asked how to institutionalize South-South cooperation to support communities hosting refugees and, ultimately, the return of refugees following conflict. Canada’s delegate cited the Ouagadougou Partnership as an example of a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance family planning. Cuba’s delegate said her country has developed tools to reduce disaster risk and adapt to climate change, which it is sharing with regional countries. Sierra Leone’s delegate said her country chairs the Group of Seven Plus (g7+), which engages in “fragile-to-fragile cooperation”, helping countries emerging from conflict by sharing their experiences through round table discussions. It has carried out peace initiatives in Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. In the latter, the g7+ helped to resettle refugees. Also, at the height of the Ebola crisis, it provided $2 million to fight the pandemic.
Participants from international organizations also took the floor, with a speaker from the Fund for Development of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean stressing that with 826 peoples and a population of 45 million, Latin America has the highest level of indigenous demography. Their traditional knowledge spans agricultural production, the environment, irrigation and medicine, which could benefit indigenous peoples on different continents. A speaker from the Latin America Economic Systems called for promoting diversified funding sources — public, private, national and international. There is a need to incentivize the expansion of South-South cooperation to include the private sector, he said, citing the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Digital Gateways in that context.
United Nations agencies are also involved, said a speaker from the Economic Commission for Europe, highlighting the Environmental Performance Review as a voluntary exercise to assess countries’ progress in meeting international environmental commitments. A speaker from the United Nations Office on Counter-Terrorism said the Office is exploring ways integrate South-South cooperation into its technical support, sharing Southern-generated initiatives to respond to terrorism and violent extremism. It recently launched a programme to foster expert and technical capacity exchange among countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. It will include a mapping of best practices and the development of an online knowledge-sharing platform connected to existing South-South platforms, and the publication of handbook on Southern best practices in countering terrorism. The Special Rapporteur on the right to development said South-South cooperation embodies principles in the right to development, namely respect for equality, mutual benefit, inclusiveness and national ownership. A speaker from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) proposed the creation of a global system to monitor South-South cooperation, while a speaker from the International Labour Organization (ILO) said it has adopted South-South cooperation to advance the decent work agenda, building partnerships with regional organizations engaged in Brazil, India, China and South Africa, as well as blocs including the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Also speaking were representatives of Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil, as well as the South American Institute of Government in Health and the International Trade Union Confederation Commonwealth Secretariat.
Interactive Panel Discussion 2
In the afternoon, the Conference held two panel discussions. The first — titled “Challenges and the strengthening of the institutional framework of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation” — was co-chaired by Bambang P.S. Brodjonegoro, Minister for National Development Planning of Indonesia, and Santiago Chávez, Vice Minister for Human Mobility of Ecuador. It featured presentations by Ruy Pereira, Executive Director of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency; Antonio González Norris, Executive Director of the Peruvian Cooperation Agency; Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary General of the Ibero-American Conference; Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; and Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries.
Mr. BRODJONEGORO said that, in the plurality of approaches that constitute South-South cooperation, developing countries have made progress in addressing epidemic disease, climate change and myriad other obstacles to human development. At times, efforts are ad hoc in nature and have no clear coordination. To maximize their development impact, renewed efforts to formalize these joint initiatives are needed. Underscoring Indonesia’s commitment to expanding and strengthening South-South cooperation, he said the Government is working to establish a single agency. Today’s discussion will explore the steps needed to bolster institutional mechanisms and frameworks at national, regional and global levels, towards better coordination of diverse actors. It will explore what coordination mechanisms are needed to ensure a whole-of-government approach and actions to enhance monitoring of South-South and triangular cooperation at national, regional and global levels.
Mr. PEREIRA said Brazil considers South-South cooperation as any means of exchange among developing countries. It is a broad concept that enables the exchange of various modalities that operate separately, while stimulating new associations with the private sector and non-traditional stakeholders. Developing countries have the prerogative to design and validate the measurements for South-South cooperation, on a voluntary and mutually convenient basis. “This should be a policy-based decision,” he said. Measurement in qualitative terms is crucial to bolstering the idea that cooperation is central to any form of development. Noting that Brazil embraces trilateral cooperation — flexible cooperation based on the consistent management of policies applied by the parties involved — he said maintaining flexibility in the types of trilateral cooperation does not harm this type of work. Private sector participation in developing countries should include performance indicators to measure job creation, tax increases, technology transfer, environmental sustainability and respect for local norms. Another dimension of partnerships which Brazil supports involves subnational bodies, with the private sector increasingly working with Governments and their partners around the world to facilitate the adaption of practices for local purposes, based on the accumulated experience of public and private agents. He stressed that South-South cooperation also has a humanitarian dimension, beyond simply responding to circumstantial disasters, which involves making an impact on reconstruction and economic and social development. He described joint work with other cooperation agencies in Tunisia, Mexico, Chile and Japan, adding: “We seek to ensure we are constantly involved in the dialogue on cooperation.”
Mr. NORRIS, recalling that Peru’s cooperation agency was created to receive North-South cooperation, said that, in 2002, the country established an agency with a dual vocation, which today carries out more than 100 projects as a provider of international cooperation. “This without doubt requires an institutional framework to direct South-South and triangular cooperation,” he said. To consolidate its role as a recipient and provider, Peru issued a statement on 7 January reiterating its aspiration to be a dual-role country. He recommended that global policies are structured within an institutional framework, which itself must align with the 2030 Agenda. It is also important to create coordination mechanisms with public and private sector actors. On funding, an acute problem, he said initial public and private resources have been raised, and reiterated Peru’s commitment to building consensus around extending the scope, quality and impact of South-South and triangular cooperation.
Ms. GRYNSPAN said institutions are defined by their vision, aims and values. Southern countries must have their own vision that transcends ad hoc projects — a point that speaks to the heart of how they relate to world. Horizontally, consensus must be built around the concept of South-South cooperation and the belief that there is no country so rich that it has nothing to learn, and none so poor that it has nothing to teach. “We need to be looking inwards and outwards in our relations with others,” she said. The Ibero-American region is the only one to have a South-South cooperation report, an online platform for countries to upload data and cooperation lined to projects for the Sustainable Development Goals. There are indicators, annual analyses, 11 South-South cooperation reports, 8,000 systematized South-South and triangular cooperation projects and agreement on how countries measure such efforts. The methodology for this joint work has been built by all regional countries. Cooperation agencies have been trained to be providers, she said, stressing that training is fundamental. Within this institutional ecosystem, all leaders of cooperation agencies in the region meet to discuss programmes and analyses, and to join forces. Regional programmes also break the donor-recipient dichotomy and all countries in the region contribute to financing that programme according to their needs. The Ibero-American Conference is a follow up for support, but never a substitute for stakeholders.
Ms. ‘UTOIKAMANU said that, as someone from a vulnerable small island country, she understands that rising sea levels are not an abstract. “This is all real when you live in a vulnerable country,” she said, all of which have the least capacities to address such challenges. Recent decades have seen an uptick in South-South cooperation in trade, technology transfer, development finance and in addressing climate change, global health and migration. “We ought to aim for rapid expansion of South-South cooperation,” she said, stressing that an institutional framework is “a must” at national, regional and global levels. An increasing number of Southern countries are cooperating to assess the outcomes of projects, paying more attention to the effectiveness of such collaborations in fostering sustainable development. On the recipient side, countries have policies and processes in place to make South-South and triangular cooperation an integral part of national development. She cited the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in the regional context. Globally, United Nations entities have incorporated South-South cooperation into their work. As to which institutional arrangements are most effective, she emphasized that with its multitude of actors and breadth of scope, the philosophy of South-South cooperation is one of inclusiveness — pointing to the need for plural institutional arrangements. South-South cooperation could be reviewed in global and regional reporting on institutional frameworks, and in particular, brought more explicitly into the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in the context of voluntary national reviews.
Mr. CHATURVEDI said South-South cooperation brings flexibility together with an ability to deliver solutions at a low cost. It is voluntary, mutually beneficial and non-binding in nature, with diversity at its core. “South-South cooperation is not just money giving,” he said. “We call it a development compact”, a multi-modal convergence of capacity-building, technology transfer, concessional finance, market and trade access and investment. “There is no one right way” and thus, no need to get lost in ideas and approaches. Global gross domestic product (GDP) of Southern countries amounted to $7.6 billion in 2000, and reached $30.9 billion in 2016. In 2000, the GDP of Southern countries constituted 28 per cent of global GDP, and today constitutes 41 per cent — gains attributed in part to their rise in regional trade arrangements, trade in high-technology goods and increasing participation in global value chains. However, any effort to capture their unique values under one framework for reporting, monitoring and evaluation would mean losing out on their diversity. The beauty of South-South cooperation is found in the many aspects of its existence. Any effort to create a uniform evaluation framework would not be correct. It is a horizontal compact, with country participation better gauged through impact assessments. His research institute has formed a network of Southern think tanks to determine how methodologies can be generated. “We have to have the element of endogeneity in the assessment process,” he stressed, noting that India learned from Brazil’s Bolsa Familia programme about how to create greater financial inclusion.
In the ensuing discussion, Indonesia’s delegate drew attention to how her country incorporated South-South cooperation into medium-term development plans, and identified three flagship programmes relating to development, economic and good governance issues. The involvement of non-State actors will foster progress on attaining the Goals through crowdfunding and blended finance.
Morocco’s delegate said the human aspect is at the core of its cooperation activities. Over 20 years, Morocco established a system of public, private and civil society stakeholders and set up a network for South-South and triangular cooperation.
Bangladesh’s delegate said the existing institutional framework has been unable to address challenges facing South-South cooperation. Regrettably, the Buenos Aires Plan of Action has yet to be fully realized. United Nations entities should be better positioned to implement that instrument, with strengthened offices supporting South-South cooperation. All relevant United Nations entities must fully integrate South-South and triangular cooperation, with a focal point identified to coordinate work with country offices. Political will is essential.
Guinea’s representative recommended strengthening the institutional map of managing South-South cooperation at the regional and international levels. Related data that is available often seems to be in the hands of donor countries rather than developing countries.
Participants from international organizations also took the floor, with a speaker from the International Trade Union Confederation emphasizing that the Sustainable Development Goals are key to fostering a new development model in which South-South cooperation is a crucial element. Several challenges must be addressed, notably the creation of an enabling environment. States must reverse the trend of shrinking space for civic space and respect both free association and collective bargaining. Stronger accountability mechanisms are also needed.
A representative of the Latin American Economic System said innovative institutions of cooperation were needed to address the new global reality. There are new actors in cooperation, such as the private sector, civil society and academia, but it is still uncertain whether cooperation reflects their involvement. “We need to be visionary enough to include these new stakeholders,” he added.
Also speaking were representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the South American Institute of Governments in Health and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Interactive Panel Discussion 3
In a parallel panel discussion this afternoon, participants focused on the theme “Scaling up the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in support of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation”. The dialogue was co-chaired by Diene Keita, Minister for Cooperation and African Integration of Guinea, and Marc-André Blanchard, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations. It featured four panellists: Teresa Ribeiro, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal; Carlos Maria Correa, Executive Director of the South Centre; Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and Paulo Estevez, Director of the BRICS (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa) Policy Centre.
Mr. BLANCHARD, delivering opening remarks, expressed hope that the various development summits planned for 2019 will focus on concrete solutions. Urging the United Nations to redouble efforts to break down silos — beginning with its Member States — he said today’s dialogue will feed into those upcoming events. “We need to foster inclusive partnerships and a broad ownership of the 2030 Agenda,” he said, adding that South-South and triangular cooperation have come a long way since the first Buenos Aires meeting. The international landscape has shifted dramatically since 1978, and global challenges now loom larger than ever before. Citing the growing recognition that “we are all in this together”, he described that more holistic approach as a revolution affecting every person on earth. “There’s a risk in not acting,” he stressed, adding that failing to build the infrastructure and relationships needed to mitigate emerging challenges “is not an option”.
Ms. KEITA said the panel’s theme, namely the means of implementation, is a critical one. In particular, she called for better ways to evaluate the implementation of the Conference outcome document, to be adopted on 22 March. Noting that implementation is in fact an extremely concrete question, she said it affects everything from how cities build up their blue and green economies to how remote villages build resilience to shocks and disasters. In that vein, she urged panellists and participants to focus on concrete examples and specific ways to leave no one behind.
Ms. RIBEIRO said that, in today’s highly complex world, more multilateralism is required. “We cannot stop climate change with walls,” she stressed, adding that triangular and South-South cooperation are good promotors of multilateralism as well as efficient ways to share knowledge and resources. Citing a paradigm shift brought about by the 2030 Agenda, she said a variety of actors and resources are now needed, going far beyond ODA and public authorities. Indeed, development has become a shared responsibility that calls all actors — including academia, civil society, the private sector and others — to action. Noting that the concept of partnerships is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 17, she urged stakeholders to commit to ensuring coherence between all forms of cooperation — from North-South to triangular to South-South — and to work towards enhanced monitoring, evaluation and effectiveness.
Mr. MARIA CORRERA, spotlighting the importance of science and technology for sustainable development, called on participants to seek new ways to transfer such critical tools. Noting that access to technology is a crucial component of creating decent jobs and building wealth, he stressed that no economic sovereignty is possible unless countries have access to advanced technological systems. In the 1970s and 1980s, developing countries received technology from developed countries in a fairly fluid way. However, as science and technology advanced — and innovation shifted overwhelmingly to the North, leading to a vast asymmetry — it became clear that operating on less-than-cutting-edge technology was no longer possible. Since the 1990s, developing nations have increased their capacity for science and technology. That is particularly true of India and China, with the latter now accounting for 20 per cent of the world’s science and technology research.
Mr. STEINER said the challenge of providing the means for implementation is not only a matter of negotiation, but also a question of national sovereignty. Pointing out that the world’s combined public government spending only accounts for a small percentage of the global economy’s annual financial transactions, he said there is therefore an urgent need to incentivize the international financial system, including the private sector, to invest in tomorrow’s development and technology. In addition, fiscal transparency and policies aimed at mobilizing domestic financing is crucial. Underlining the popularity of UNDP’s “Tax Inspectors without Borders” programme, which helps countries to better understand their tax base, he agreed that technology is another crucial part of a Government’s capacity to act. He also spotlighted the importance of trade and emphasized that countries’ ability to intelligently use seed capital and investments will be critical going forward.
Mr. ESTEVES presented the results of some of the BRICS Policy Centre’s recent studies on business sector engagement in South-South cooperation. Noting his organization’s finding that developing countries still largely rely on such traditional tools as trade, aid, export credits, loans and grants, he said several questions emerged from its case studies, including how to ensure inclusive national ownership when private sector actors are involved; how to better measure impact and track results; how to ensure coherent private sector engagement in projects featuring a mix of partners with different agendas; how to ensure effective private sectors in least developed countries and fragile and conflict-affected countries, outside of a profit-driven model; and how to make best use of the comparative advantages of the private sector in the context of projects in middle-income countries.
In the ensuing dialogue, several ministers and other speakers hailed a “new momentum in South-South cooperation”, welcoming that conversations on the topic have matured and become more concrete in the last four decades. Many shared national experiences, outlining how specific projects were made possible by innovative resource mobilization schemes, strong partnerships, cutting-edge technology or improved integration into the multilateral trading system.
The representative of South Africa said that, in adopting the 2030 Agenda, States opted to come together to support each other, rather than languish in shared misery. While that 2015 agreement determined that trade would be the vehicle for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, summits and negotiations on that issue have nevertheless continued to fail in the subsequent three years. Warning that efforts to mobilize resources for the 2030 Agenda’s implementation will fall flat if countries are not able to industrialize, he described efforts to reduce taxes as a “race to the bottom” and instead urged countries to improve their tax systems. In addition, he said pension funds — often worth billions of dollars — should do more to invest in sustainable development outcomes.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh joined other speakers in calling for stepped-up support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including through ODA from developed countries. Also calling for the establishment of new financial institutions and funds for that purpose, he listed additional demands, including access to technology transfer at an affordable price.
The representative of Botswana emphasized that developing countries remain seriously hamstrung by the lack of a level playing field within such multilateral financial institutions as the World Trade Organization (WTO). “We need to look at reforming the world systems,” he stressed.
The representative of the Russian Federation, outlining several of her country’s investments in neighbouring countries, noted that they are aimed not only at turning a profit, but also at finding new ways of doing business and assisting those States’ development efforts. “It is not all about the money,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia spotlighted a range of innovative national programmes, including green banking and green financing, which he said incorporate environmental elements in their work.
Pakistan’s representative urged countries to redouble their cooperation ahead of the coming technological revolution, in which artificial intelligence is likely to reduce the availability of many jobs around the world.
A representative of the business and civil society communities of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries said the Sustainable Development Goals are key drivers of incentives for the promotion of decent work in the coming years. Calling for stronger accountability mechanisms, progressive tax policies and a fair and balanced multilateral trading system, she said South-South cooperation should also promote universal social protection coverage and adequate health care for all.
Also speaking was ministers and representatives of Costa Rica, Philippines, Morocco, Brazil, United Republic of Tanzania and Honduras, as well as the Organization of Volunteers of the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).