Home » General » United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation — Plenary

BUENOS AIRES, 22 March —

NOTE: A complete summary of today’s plenary meetings at the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, held in Buenos Aires, will be made available after their conclusion.


GENE WAQANIVALU BAI (Fiji), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said South-South and triangular cooperation have undergone major transformations since the first meeting in Buenos Aires four decades ago.  Middle-income countries have emerged as the new donors and technical assistance providers to developing countries, and South-South and triangular cooperation have been identified as key modalities for delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  “We are gathered here today to reflect, review, learn, enhance and strengthen our cooperation,” he said, adding that there is a growing consensus that challenges faced by developing countries can only be solved if they work together to find solutions.  Fiji, like other small island developing States, is economically vulnerable and ecologically fragile, and its sustainable development is seriously compromised by the effects of climate change and natural disasters.  Indeed, the latter threaten to set back hard-earned development gains.  Noting that small island developing States are also vulnerable to increasing debts, he spotlighted the importance of accessing climate finance for adaptation and mitigation, and expressed hope that new partnerships through South-South and triangular frameworks will focus on climate-related challenges.

Name to come (Italy) said that, during the last two days, delegates have presented varying definitions of South-South cooperation, adding that further deepening the understanding of the mechanism could greatly increase its benefits.  Italy remains committed to contributing 0.7 per cent of its gross national income to official development assistance (ODA) for developing countries.  Regarding triangular cooperation, Italy is eager to support projects among equals and on a peer-to-peer basis.  South-South and triangular cooperation, in its many forms, can be essential for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills, and can produce results beyond traditional North-South cooperation modalities.  Turning to initiatives aimed at fighting corruption and promoting transparency, he noted that Italy is organizing a preparatory conference in May on implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16 — peace, justice and strong institutions.

EDIKA VOKRAL (Switzerland) said South-South and triangular cooperation are important parts of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation, which requires the mobilization of resources, funds and expertise.  Those instruments are critical to tackling the many global challenges of the future, she stressed, calling for diverse approaches, innovative concepts and shared principles and values.  South-South and especially triangular cooperation are concrete partnerships that should promote collaboration beyond single projects and help bring forward joint proposals and initiatives.  For example, in 2018, her Government held a workshop in South Africa on climate, environment and disaster risk reduction integration guidance, which led to a trilateral partnership between Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe on that topic.  Switzerland will remain committed to pursuing triangular cooperation, as well as sharing and building on its experiences, she said.

FORTUNA DIBACO (Ethiopia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the promotion of South-South investment is imperative for economic growth and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  “Investment brings more than finance,” she stressed, noting that South-South cooperation is a collective endeavour of developing countries based on the principle of solidarity and national ownership.  As clearly stated in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, South-South cooperation is an important element of international cooperation for development.  It must serve as a complement, not a substitute, to North-South cooperation, which should remain the main channel of international development cooperation.  Noting the recently concluded African Continental Free Trade Area, she called on the United Nations to continue to support developing countries in deepening South-South trade and regional economic integration.

FORBES JULY (Guyana) said the last 40 years have demonstrated that the global development community has grown from “token transactions” under the rubric of technical cooperation among developing countries to major systems of intra-South trade, technology transfer and capacity-building.  Citing crucial progress achieved, he said none of it would have been possible without the cooperation of development partners from the North and pivotal trailblazers from the South, all sharing financial and knowledge resources.  As a middle-income country, Guyana has seen declines in both poverty and ODA financing levels, and is now working to maintain its growth trajectory.  “The development community will not be exhausted in its call for continued North-South cooperation” and for the promotion of the 2030 Agenda, he said, echoing other speakers in stressing that South-South cooperation is not an adequate replacement.  While shouldering their responsibility, countries of the South also call upon multilateral, regional and bilateral financial and development institutions to consider increasing their support to promote South-South exchanges, he said.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe) expressed gratitude to all who have provided aid to his country as it reels from the carnage of Cyclone Idai.  He also stressed that South-South cooperation is complementary to and not a substitute for the responsibilities and capabilities of donor countries.  As ODA plays a distinct, vital role in the development of countries of the South, such assistance should be readily available and target countries with inadequate resources and capacities to implement the 2030 Agenda.  South-South cooperation can address the development challenges because of shared values and similar development contexts among countries of the South, which are open to knowledge-sharing and technology exchange.  Noting the merits of triangular cooperation, he underscored the need for innovative ways of mobilizing more resources to enable developing countries to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Greater collaboration is essential in trade, finance and infrastructure.  The role of the United Nations remains critical, he said, stressing the importance of sharing of best practices, lessons learnt and other pertinent information.  Cyclone Idai has left an unprecedented trail of destruction in Zimbabwe and has exacerbated the plight of the people in need of medicine, shelter and food, he added.

MURTADA HASSAN ABUOBEIDA SHARIF (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, reaffirmed the importance of South-South cooperation and its unique history and role in partnerships for sustainable development.  It is an expression of solidarity among Southern countries that fosters self-reliance — collectively and individually.  It must continue to be guided by the principles of national sovereignty and ownership, independence, non-conditionality and non-interference in domestic affairs.  It complements North-South cooperation.  Sudan has contributed to South-South exchanges in such fields as agriculture and education.  It will enhance these efforts in food security and nutrition, he said, stressing: “We have significant capacities and comparative advantages to play a significant role in this regard.”  Sudan has also benefitted from such approaches in energy, infrastructure and education.

Name to come (Chile), stressing that needs and goals have changed, said innovative ways must be found to overcome development barriers by involving more key stakeholders in managing cooperation, and by determining the role of Southern countries at the United Nations and in the definition of global policies.  In 2018, Chile’s cooperation agency carried out more than 150 projects and directed technical cooperation throughout Latin America.  It provided 762 grants to professionals and students from various regions to attain master’s degrees, diplomas, international courses and internships.  Also in 2018, Chile implemented 18 triangular cooperation projects, including with Germany, Spain, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Portugal, Thailand and international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union.  Noting that its cooperation seeks to foster gains in countries of the same or lower development level as Chile, he said various funds have been created for that purpose.  Indeed, South-South cooperation unleashes a multiplying effect of best practices and institutional competencies that can be repeated.

PIUS OSUNYINKAMI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that South-South cooperation should continue to be guided by the principles of respect for national sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit, and non-interference in the domestic affairs of States.  “If conducted in an atmosphere of trust and sincerity, South-South and triangular cooperation can contribute to the establishment of a fair and equitable international order,” he said, recalling that Nigeria established a directorate charged with responding to the needs of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, including by sharing its own expertise through the deployment of professionals to recipient countries.  Such projects have challenged the commonly held perception that Africa is only a recipient of aid.  Warning that downside risks such as illicit financial flows now impede economic development and drain valuable resources, he said ending that social ill will be one of the most cost-effective strategies to implement the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and called on States to scale up cooperation to that end.

Name to come (Colombia) said the added value of South-South cooperation is forged at myriad regional levels as the process is an effective way to share experiences, best practices and solutions directly based on demand.  Colombia prioritizes working through regional organizations, as well as measuring the value of South-South cooperation.  Colombia has also developed a model to determine the contributions of such partnerships in order to better evaluate its costs and benefits, she said.  South-South cooperation projects must be sustainable and the concepts underpinning them understood by local populations.  Results must be clear, concrete and tangible.  She welcomed the inclusion of new partners, including the private sector, civil society and academia, in triangular cooperation.  Promoting creative industries to bolster development is a major focus for the Government through its “Orange Economy” initiative.  South-South cooperation is indispensable in addressing the migration crisis facing Colombia and the region.

PATRICK ANDREWS (Belize), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the rapid growth of South-South cooperation solidifies its important role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  In its 37 years of independence, Belize has experienced a social and economic transformation greatly due to its South-South and triangular partnerships.  “Ironically, even as we are witnessing this remarkable growth, we are seeing a parallel stagnation and even decline in ODA and the erection of barriers that make access to concessionary financing difficult for middle-income small island developing States,” he said.  International development cooperation must include a multidimensional perspective that transcends the use of per capita income as the sole indicator to measure development, he stressed.  Small island developing States seek to become “champions of ambition” by collaborating with each other more, adapting to climate change and enhancing their representation in climate change processes.

Name to come (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said South-South and triangular cooperation should be encouraged and supported, directed towards more sectors and focused on technical and other forms of capacity-building.  Doing so will help countries better address climate change and improve education, especially for girls, and he requested greater solidarity on that front.  Access to water and sanitation, especially in rural areas, must be ensured, which is particularly important in addressing health crises and caring for those with non-communicable diseases.  Greater focus must also be placed on terrorism, which is eroding development efforts in the Sahel, and on cybercrime.  He described shared projects in Senegal, for building ports, roads and dams, highlighting the “Rivers Plan” as an example of a shared river project that includes Mauritania and Mali.  The Dakar-Bamako corridor has much daily traffic, and soon, another project will be launched with Mauritania to exploit cross-border gas and oil resources.  Other frameworks, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), enable greater cooperation, he said, noting that Senegal also partners with China, Turkey, Morocco, Brazil and Argentina to build quality infrastructure.

Name to come (Rwanda) called South-South cooperation a defining element for the success of the 2030 Agenda, as it cuts across the spectrum of Sustainable Development Goals, from sustainable agriculture and fishing to infrastructure and affordable energy.  Noting that South-South and triangular cooperation have been central to Rwanda’s development plans, he said both should be driven by national priorities, rather than cut-and-paste solutions imposed from the outside.  Rwanda requires mutual transparency and alignment of all development projects with national priorities, which is important for ensuring that partners “deal with us on equal footing and are also held accountable”.  Gender equality and women’s empowerment have become a hallmark of the national development agenda, with the world’s highest percentage of women in Parliament, at more than 60 per cent — a success that has had a trickledown effect on other sectors.  Stressing that Rwanda considers South-South cooperation a cornerstone for creating more effective multilateralism, he said the African Union’s Agenda 2063 also places strategic partnerships in the areas of trade, investment, infrastructure, technology transfer, climate change and migration among its priorities — a sign that Africa is a vital player in strengthening South-South cooperation.

Name to come (Gambia) said that international funding, private sector participation and technical support remain critical for his country to successfully implement the 2030 Agenda.  South-South cooperation is essential as it is built on solidarity and mutual respect.  The United Nations development system must remain a knowledge hub of South-South cooperation.  A comprehensive South-South strategy promoted by the United Nations will help developing countries harness the benefits of South-South exchange.  Women and young people cannot be left behind, he said, expressing concern about youth unemployment.  “We must generate employment opportunities through vocational and skills training,” he added.  The Gambia is seeking to consolidate its development gains and achieve macroeconomic stability, even with its high debt burden.  Continued support from development partners remains critical.