Remarks by Dennis Francis, President of the 78th session of the General Assembly
“United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation 2023”, 12 September 2023
His Excellency, H.E. Peter Mohan Maithri Pieris,President of the 21st session of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation,
His Excellency, Gerardo Peñalver Portal, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, representing G77,
Ms. Dima Al-Khatib, Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation,
UNDP Administrator, Mr. Achim Steiner,
Under-Secretary-General and High Representative, Ms. Rabab Fatima,
Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Li Junhua,
Given the critical juncture we find ourselves, our gathering today holds both immense significance, but also, this encounter takes place against a backdrop of pressing urgency.
What should be a moment for celebration is instead a moment of reckoning.
Unhappily, we are not where we need to be in many ways.
The state of our multilateral system remains a matter of continuing concern and disquiet.
Geopolitical tensions are testing the very rules and principles of the UN Charter.
The impacts of climate change are intensifying.
This commemorative event coincides with the halfway point in implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – our blueprint for perseverance.
But with only seven years left, we remain far from realizing our ambitious goals.
Most worrying is that implementation of the SDGs remains severely constrained by a widening financing gap, and it is the developing countries that are bearing the full brunt of this challenge.
While it is true that the Global South has faced significant setbacks, exacerbated, in part, by the global pandemic and climactic disasters, I still believe that it is in such turbulent times that we must lean onto the strengths of South-South cooperation.
South-South and triangular cooperation are not mere options; they are essential and yet underutilized tools to achieve global peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.
If effectively leveraged, South-South and triangular cooperation has proven to be a robust and effective mechanism for collective support, particularly in areas of health, food security, and education.
Faced with the myriad of challenges, it is increasingly important that we maximize the potential of such cooperation, which amplifies a strong collaboration between developing countries themselves, in partnership with developed nations, and international organizations.
As we navigate these turbulent times, it is equally imperative that we fully harness shared experiences, best practices, and combined resources, especially on climate action.
The upcoming SDG Summit in less than a week, November’s COP28, and the Summit of the Future in 2024, all provide platforms for us to strategize, innovate, and work cohesively towards a sustainable future.
These, and the analysis in the “Report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”, offer us a unique opportunity to understand and address our diverse needs, while spearheading groundbreaking initiatives to fulfill our collective objectives.
But our aims can only be attained by working together.
Indeed, as we forge ahead to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the next seven years will be defined by the ability of South-South countries to unite, to work coherently and overcome any differences.
Showcasing our potential for success, the 21st session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation highlighted the transformative impact of collaboration in sectors such as trade, investment, and digitalization.
Reinforced by global discussions at forums like the 2023 Development Cooperation Forum and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, South-South cooperation has shifted from being a concept to a tangible solutions toolkit.
What we require now is a new paradigm shift – one that moves away from referencing the past towards a resounding call for a quantum leap to create the future we want.
If we confront the complex crises that lie ahead, our shared interests, experiences, technology, and resources will be our collective strength.
Let us prioritize and invest strategically in these invaluable assets.
Monitoring and reporting mechanisms should be established to continually assess the impact of South-South collaborations, ensuring that they drive positive change and meet their objectives.
We must be mindful, however, that South-South cooperation is not a substitute for North-South development cooperation, but rather a noteworthy reinforcement of it.
We must also extend the hand of collaboration beyond government and multilateral partners, by ensuring that that civil society and the private sector are embraced as partners in seeking inclusive solutions.
Let me conclude by emphasizing, that at the halfway point to 2030 – or as the UN has dubbed it, the ‘Halftime Campaign’ – we must seize this moment to galvanize momentum behind achieving the SDGs.
Let us redouble our efforts and commit to the founding ideals of South-South cooperation.
It is our blueprint for global unity, action, and unwavering commitment to a sustainable future.
Let us harness this commemorative day, the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, to celebrate and reimagine transformative initiatives.
By working together, in solidarity with one another, I am convinced that we can build a more sustainable, more equitable, more just world, for all.
A world of spreading opportunity for economic success. In this journey, I urge you all to take along with you the most vulnerable among us, the LDCs, the LLDCs, and the SIDS, who are at real risk of being left furthest behind.
For that reason, the Office of the PGA, will devote its efforts in coming months to working towards bringing relief and support to this group of States in Special Situations.
I trust that you will all join me in that enterprise.
I thank you.