“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.”
With these word, H.E. Mr. Ruchira Komboji, Permanent Representative of India, captured the very essence of South-South Cooperation during his opening remarks at the recently completed 21st session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, 30 May – 2 June, 2023.
This rippling effect of knowledge-sharing and mutual support is a foundational element of a new project soon to be launched in Nigeria, where the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will implement a series of initiatives contributing to a greener, more sustainable economy. The project will draw on the results of similar projects in neighbouring countries while further contributing to the body of knowledge on biodiversity-friendly businesses in tropical climates. India-UN Partnership Development Fund is supporting the initiative.
Partners explained that the livelihoods and socio-economic well-being of Nigeria’s rural communities are intricately linked with their natural environment, where communities located in and around forest ecosystems rely mostly on biodiversity and natural resources for their livelihoods. However, they use unsustainable practices, including river chemical fishing and hunting, and clearing portions of the forest for subsistence farming, shelter and cooking. These practices place undue pressure on the ecosystem.
Seeking to reverse this trend, this new project for Nigeria was approved. It builds on the successful results of an India-UN Fund project in Togo’s Fazao-Malfakassa National Park, where biodiversity-friendly green economy activities for families improved knowledge about biodiversity, established new small businesses, enhanced access to markets, and provided comprehensive start-up business-incubation services to support youth- and women-led entrepreneurship. For Nigeria, the project will make context-appropriate changes to the adaption of both the Livelihood Training Manuals and the visibility strategy produced for Togo, as well as provide similarly adapted knowledge resources and training design. The project will focus on poverty reduction efforts through the establishment of biodiversity businesses, apiculture, snail rearing, mushroom and fish farming, and other green, sustainable industries. During the two-year project, 900 families (4,500 individuals of whom 40 percent men, 30 percent women, and 30 percent youth) residing in three biosphere reserve communities will be participate.
The project will also help strengthen biodiversity conservation work in neighbouring countries, tapping into the network of biosphere reserves and experts. The project will share knowledge and experience through online meetings as well as training manuals, survey results and other research materials. And it will work with both Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone in their efforts to conceptualize similar projects.
With the Fund’s financial support, the Nigeria project aims to not only deliver on its efforts within the country, but also provide a replicable and scalable initiative that can be disseminated and adapted to the unique needs of countries in similar ecological and geographical zones through their own poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation efforts.