Bangkok, Thailand – “As we approach the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it has become clear that we will need urgent and additional efforts to accelerate progress,” said Dima Al-Khatib, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, in her remarks to the 10th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2023.
“South-South and triangular cooperation – among countries facing similar challenges – can be a valuable catalyst in galvanizing political will and enhancing know-how to implement much needed economic and social reforms needed to rescue the SDGs,” Ms. Al-Khatib said, opening a ministerial segment focusing on accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda through voluntary national reviews (VNRs).
Countries are increasingly integrating South-South and triangular cooperation during the preparation and presentation of their VNRs as part their follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These VNRs aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerate development impacts.
For instance, Pakistan and Sri Lanka carried out a successful ‘twinning initiative’ in 2022 facilitated by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP). This involved online engagement and joint workshops, as well as sharing of institutional arrangements, policy directions and strategic multi-stakeholder partnerships which strengthened the countries’ implementation of the 2030 Agenda and accelerated their progress.
Denis Nkala, UNOSSC Chief of Intergovernmental and UN Systems Affairs, moderated the SDG Round Table 17 final plenary and breakout discussion on the role of capacity building and partnerships. In the presentation on SDG 17, UNESCAP indicated that the Asia-Pacific region will no longer reach its SDG goals by 2030, and not only that, but will miss them by decades. The need to expand South-South cooperation and capacity building to all goals, not just Goal 17 was highlighted. Participants advocated for a people-centered approach to capacity building and South-South cooperation. The other breakout groups under Round Table 17 focused on leveraging trade for sustainable development, and financing for SDGs. The results of Round Table 17 were presented to the plenary by the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Maldives.
Integrating South-South cooperation into VNRs
UNOSSC also co-organized a side event with the UN ESCAP titled ‘Bringing South-South and Triangular Cooperation into action through the Voluntary National Reviews’.
“Solutions and innovative strategies originating in the South have and are delivering robust results around the world,” said Mr. Nkala, opening the side event.
The joint side event explored the added value of South-South and triangular cooperation in the VNR process. Panelists from China and Indonesia shared their good practices and lessons on integrating South-South and triangular cooperation into preparation and presentation of the VNRs. The panelists from Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan discussed how the ‘twinning approach’ can benefit the VNR process and SDG acceleration efforts. The side event also encouraged discussion of what practical support the UN system can provide to facilitate and support further integration of South-South and triangular cooperation twinning in the VNR process.
“VNRs are valuable catalysts in galvanizing political and civic will to redouble efforts at meeting the SDG targets,” said Mr. Nkala.
Responding to the Member State’s requests in 2022 HLPF Ministerial Declaration and latest UNGA Resolution on South-South Cooperation – in collaboration with Member States and other stakeholders – UNOSSC is preparing a handbook which provides step-by-step guidance, drawing from good practices, and examples, on integrating South-South and triangular cooperation into the perpetration and presentation of VNRs.
UNRCs Hanaa Singer-Hamdy (Nepal) and Tapan Mishra (Mongolia) reflected on the forthcoming UNOSSC VNR handbook, and emphasized the importance of not only sharing the process and guidance on VNR preparation, but also South-South good practices.
Mr. Bhushan Shrestha, UNOSSC Result-Based Management Specialist presented key elements of the forthcoming handbook on ‘Integrating South-South and Triangular Cooperation into Voluntary National Reviews’ for discussion and feedback. The handbook considers integrating South-South and triangular cooperation in VNRs from two perspectives: Firstly, from a process perspective, which means applying South-South and triangular cooperation activities as a part of the VNR preparation process. Secondly, from a content perspective, which means reporting on South-South and triangular cooperation efforts and achievements in the VNR report itself. The handbook will be available for use in July 2023.
Dr. Zhou Taidong, researcher at the China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD), pointed out that south-south and triangular cooperation has been a key “element” in China’s VNR as well as China’s Progress Reports on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This helps update progresses in south-south cooperation in different sectors, analyze corresponding challenges, and encourage mutual learning among different stakeholders.
Launch of South-South projects
During the 10th Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development the government of Thailand launched three United Nations flagship initiatives to accelerate the shift to organic agriculture, as well as improve sexual and reproductive health services, including capacity development in midwifery and of health officials to engage at global health forums. The initiatives were developed with initial support to the UNCT by UNOSSC which helped them to reduce number of un-coordinated South-South initiatives and narrowed them down to initiatives prioritised by the Government. The initiatives are already receiving triangular financial support from the European Union.
H.E. Ureerat Chareontoh, Director-General of the Thailand International Cooperation Agency, emphasized during the launch that, “South-South and triangular cooperation always lies at the heart of Thailand’s development policy.” Read more here.
For more information please contact: Bhushan Shrestha, Results-Based Management Specialist, email@example.com