South-South cooperation took centre stage as UN Member States and international development partners gathered in New York to reflect on the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the role South-South and triangular cooperation can play to galvanize multilateralism in policy measures and actions to attain inclusive recovery from the pandemic while spurring progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The occasion was the biennial gathering of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (HLC), whose theme this year focused on “Accelerating the Recovery from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through South-South and triangular cooperation”.
The twenty-first session of the Committee was held from 30 May to 2 June. It came at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, which further exacerbated the already existing development challenges in the global South, such as climate change, thus increasing the vulnerability and instability of developing countries. Ongoing conflicts have also caused considerable suffering for millions of people worldwide, reversing hard-won development gains. However, the reports prepared for the Committee indicate that the crises that have claimed millions of lives and disrupted beneficial socioeconomic activities have also strengthened the resolve of developing countries and their partners to engage more in creative South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation in efforts to build forward better from the pandemic and to strengthen their resilience to future shocks.
The IBSA Fund will continue to strengthen the spirit of South-South cooperation that is people centric, demand driven, and directly beneficial to the communities that are the most vulnerable. – H.E. Ms. Ruchira Komboji, Permanent Representative of India
On the final day of the HLC there a segment focused on the work and achievements of the South-South Trust Funds managed by UNOSSC, notably featuring the India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation, or IBSA Fund which launched its 2022 Annual Report on this occasion. This South-South financing mechanism implements – through partnerships – replicable, and scalable projects that can be disseminated to interested developing countries as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger.
Ms. Dima Al-Khatib, Director of UNOSSC, opened the day’s session by acknowledging the IBSA Fund’s development leadership and its work. “As I congratulate our partners for their leadership and visionary contributions to UN South-South Cooperation, I also want to stress UNOSSC’s commitment to emphasize the scalability of these projects, rendering them instrumental for broader and sustainable transformation. I am also delighted to report that the IBSA Fund Annual Report showcases 18 projects implemented in 18 countries.”
Ms. Al-Khatib also acknowledged India’s unique leadership in the South-South development effort. “The government and the people of India have been generously contributing to two of our trust funds, IBSA with Brazil and South Africa, as well as the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, a $150 million fund, which is an exemplary model of cooperation projects that are nationally owned and driven by horizontal partnerships.”
“South-South Cooperation is built on the principles of equality, mutual respect, and shared development. It recognizes that every nation, regardless of its economic status, has unique experiences, knowledge, and expertise to contribute. Successive IBSA declarations have derived strength from these principles,” said H.E. Ms. Ruchira Komboji, Permanent Representative of India. “India has emerged as a prominent advocate and participant in the realm of South-South cooperation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a ‘one earth, one health’ approach underlines our continuing commitment to the global South.”
“The India-UN Development Partnership Fund, the first ever single country South-South initiative at the UN, has developed a portfolio of 66 development projects in partnership with 61 developing countries in a short span of just 5 years,” H.E. Ms. Ruchira Komboji said. “India’s commitment to development cooperation which focuses on the LDCs, the LLDCs, as well as the SIDs, has expanded considerably in recent years. More than 300 concessional lines of credit, worth over $31 billion, have been extended. while a number of grant and aid projects aggregating approximately $4 billion, have been implemented in key social and infrastructure sectors.”
H.E. Ms Mathu Joyini, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations followed. “The trilateral IBSA Forum has been a great example of a blueprint for South-South cooperation. The partnership seeks to strengthen collective, multilateral efforts and uplifting people out of poverty and hunger. It is our resolve to continue playing a supporting role in advancing a progressive development agenda,” she said. “The Fund has demonstrated its versatility in responding to requests for assistance during COVID, like the approved WASH initiatives in African countries. As like-minded emerging economies, we recognize that we have a collective role to play in addressing and correcting imbalances in the global economy.”
Over time, the IBSA fund has been undergoing a process of continuous improvement, adapting to the needs posed by time and remaining powerful in meeting the demands it receives in supporting global development. – H.E. Ms Mathu Joyini, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa
Representatives from the UN Fund for South-South Cooperation (UNFSSC)’s two largest contributors, China and the Republic of Korea, also addressed the participants.
H.E. Minister Hong-Bo Wang, from the Permanent Mission of China, noted the types of initiatives in which China has invested, including promoting city to city cooperation, technology transfer, and capacity development towards advancing sustainable development. “South-South cooperation is a way for developing countries to help each other. China values the important coordinating role of the South-South Office, and encourages it to play a greater role in promoting South-South cooperation among developing countries. We are ready to continue to support the Office and contribute to the accelerated implementation of the 2030 agenda.”
In his remarks, H.E. Mr. Sangjin Kim, Deputy Permanent Representative of Republic of Korea, expressed his Government’s commitment to South-South development, particularly among the neighbouring countries of the Mekong Delta. “The Republic of Korea holds science, technology, innovation, and knowledge-sharing in high regard, recognizing their critical importance in realising the SDGs. [Throughout our partnership, the UNOSSC] has facilitated the creation of well-defined, fully designed, and effectively implemented initiatives that are finely tuned to the unique needs of each country,” he said. “My delegation firmly believes that the mutual cooperation and partnership-based learning that occurs between the Republic of Korea and the Mekong States will provide valuable insights into how South-South and trilateral cooperation can aid countries in addressing national challenges.”
Finally, Ms. Usha Rao-Monari, UNDP’s Deputy Administrator, closed the session. “Despite symmetries and capacities in developing countries, the new conceptual framework on the measurement of South-South cooperation and SDG 17.3.1 ,does mark a breakthrough. As indicated by Members States and the UN family at large, it is evident that we are pursuing a collective action and collaboration in our work on South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation through the implementation of the UN’s system-wide strategy on South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation for sustainable development, as well as through the monitoring and reporting on parameters to track its successful implementation simultaneously in line with the UN development system. South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation keeps proving, over and over, that solidarity wins over working in isolation.”