On Tuesday, 11 September 2017, UNESCO, the United Nations Office on South-South Cooperation (UNOSCC) and the Group of 77 hosted a workshop on UNESCO’s activities promoting South-South and triangular cooperation in Africa.
Ms. Marie Paule Roudil, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York, served as facilitator of the event, which highlighted South-South cooperation as an important complement to North-South cooperation that can cultivate direct and horizontal relations to support nations in similar stages of development, facing common challenges.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Elena Yanez, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ecuador, illustrated the potential of South-South and triangular cooperation to contribute to national self-reliance and wellbeing. She also stressed the importance of creating dialogue between North-South and South-South cooperation.
Furthering the opening remarks, Mr. Firmin Matoko, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Africa, described the multifaceted nature of South-South cooperation, operating in technical, environmental, and social domains at all levels of governance and society. Mr. Matoko named youth as key partners in development, emphasizing their capacity to drive progress within their countries and cultures.
To continue the dialogue, Mr. Jorge Chediek, UNOSSC Director and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, explained that the North produced the 2000 Millennium Development Goals for the South, creating the present need to work cooperatively to manifest a new vision for South-South cooperation. Mr. Chediek highlighted the African Peer Review Mechanism as one example of the creative, pioneering nature of the nations of the African Union.
In a statement delivered by Mr. Gonzalo Abad on behalf of Ms. Josette Altmann Borbón, Secretary General of Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Ms. Altmann Borbón described the interface of dialogue, integration, and cooperation at FLACSO, founded by UNESCO sixty years ago. The importance of exchange and academic cooperation in a variety of domains, including gender and youth entrepreneurship, rural development, and environmental conservation was underscored.
Mr. Salvatore Mineo, Program Specialist at the UNESCO Bureau of Strategic Planning, provided an overview of UNESCO’s framework promoting South-South cooperation, as well as examples of projects implemented by the organization. This included supporting education, specifically concerning mother-tongue multilingual education in Africa, disaster preparedness and education in Latin America, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) education in Asia Pacific, and literacy and non-formal education in Arab countries. Mr. Mineo further emphasized the role of youth leaders in disseminating best socio-educational practices. Despite the potential challenges of a lack of funds, weak visibility, and tracking volumes, Mr. Mineo pinpointed the imperative steps to progress as strengthening and creating partnerships, reinforcing coordination with the UN on South-South issues, and establishing indicators to track volumes of funds in programs and projects.
Advancing the discussion, His Excellency Mr. Kennedy Mayong Oron, Deputy Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, spoke to the success of South-South cooperation in Malaysia, which will likely become a developed country in the coming few years.
Her Excellency Mrs. Rudo Mabel Chitiga, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to France and Chair of the Group of Africa at UNESCO, furthered the discussion on the past and potential future trends of South-South cooperation activities in Africa.