Analysis by J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – The Group of 77 (G77) and China, comprising 134 developing nations, has welcomed a new United Nations initiative that will build partnerships to help developing countries to assist other developing countries implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Development Agenda.
But the G77 and China chairperson Virachai Plasai, Thailand’s Permanent Representative to the UN, has stressed that “South-South and Triangular Cooperation are not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North-South Cooperation”.
He added: “As South-South and Triangular cooperation are dear to the heart of the Group, we wish to see the momentum created by this initiative to promote South-South and Triangular cooperation be carried forward in other important areas apart from climate change.”
Termed the Southern Climate Partnership Incubator (SCPI), the UN Secretary-General’s new initiative aims at fostering partnerships among the ‘Global South’ in the areas of renewable energy, climate resilience, smart cities and big data application.
The SCPI initiative will be jointly implemented by the UN Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG), and the United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), in cooperation with other members of the UN system and the wider stakeholder community.
“South-South cooperation is crucial,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the launch of the initiative in conjunction with the signature ceremony of the historic Paris Agreement on April 22 at UN headquarters in New York, where leaders and high-ranking officials from 175 countries signed the agreement.
G77 is of the view that this new initiative will be crucial for mobilizing multi-stakeholder partnerships on the cross-cutting environmental dimension, in particular the issue of climate change through the traditional North-South cooperation and complementary South-South and Triangular cooperation towards that end to ensure sustainability of the economic and social dimensions.
“The launch of the Southern Climate Partnership Incubator could support developing countries in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and, once it comes into force, the Paris Agreement,” said Plasai.
He reiterated on behalf of the Group the open and inclusive nature of this initiative while attaching importance to relevant flexibility for national space in accordance with national priority and policy.
In addition to the four key areas of interest specified namely renewable energy, climate resilience, smart cities and big data, G77 is of the view that further consultation with larger membership would be beneficial in identifying other key areas of interest under this initiative.
Plasai added: “Furthermore, we stress the need for more clarity on the mechanism, both financial and logistical aspects, to support and sustain the implementation of partnerships under this new initiative as well as the role and mandates of EOSG and UNOSSC including the UN development system in this regard. This would provide great benefits for the membership of the Group in pursuing and taking active part in this initiative.”
The Chairperson of the Group of 77 and China reaffirmed the position that “South-South Cooperation is a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes to their national well-being, national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals”.
Such cooperation, he added, should also be guided by the principles of respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in domestic affairs and mutual benefit. “At the same time, we reiterate that South-South and Triangular Cooperation are not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North-South Cooperation.”
The Group also reaffirmed that while promoting and strengthening South-South and Triangular cooperation in the field of climate change, focus should be on supporting developing countries in their efforts towards adaptation. “Financing for adaptation is critical and securing the continued role of the Adaptation Fund beyond 2020 is welcomed.”
Plasai drew attention to the fact that on mitigation, developing countries are still in a great need for capacity building to take effective climate change action. “Apart from undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets for nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by developed countries, it is also equally important to enhance support for developing countries to allow higher ambition in the NDCs,” he said.
The Group is of a firm belief that capacity-building should be based on and responsive to national needs and to fostering country ownership. The process of capacity-building must be participatory, country-driven and cross-cutting.
Representatives from several member states highlighted the importance of South-South cooperation on climate change and welcomed this new initiative.
Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative on Climate Change welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts on South-South cooperation and the new initiative in particular. He noted that China was ready to work with all UN Agencies and Member States in the field of South-South cooperation.
Maldives Minister Thoriq Ibrahim stressed the essential role of South-South Cooperation for development and the development of partnerships with a variety of stakeholders. The newly elected President of the nineteenth session of High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, Dr. Richard Nduhuura, called on all relevant partners to support the new initiative.
Senior representatives from a range of groups attending the launch identified action on climate change as an essential prerequisite for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and highlighted the importance of south-south cooperation to tackle climate change.
They also discussed how key stakeholders, including the UN can work together to develop and strengthen these partnerships, and provided specific substantive examples from their experience.
Dr. David Nabarro, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, stressed that enhanced cooperation between developing countries will be critical to achieve sustainable development and address climate change and welcomed the leadership of major developing countries in promoting South-South Cooperation on climate change, and underlined that promoting South-South cooperation on climate change is one of the Secretary-General’s key pillars on climate action.
Many UN agencies, including ILO, UNEP, UNDP, UNDESA, UNIDO and UNFCCC, expressed their support for Ban’s new initiative, with many organizations already taking actions that are supporting south-south cooperation.
Civil society groups, represented by Oxfam and The South Centre, also noted with huge interests to support and partner with SCPI for implementation. They emphasized the essence of the platform for multi-stakeholder participation, and highly recommended the civil society groups to be included in the process. [IDN-InDepthNews – 9 May 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: A farmer takes a break in Swaziland. Credit: FAO/Rodger Bosch