By Silvia Espíndola*
The author is Undersecretary of International Cooperation of the Republic of Ecuador. Following are excerpts from his statement at the Workshop titled South-South Cooperation forty years since BAPA: Challenges and Opportunities during the ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) meeting, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 6, 2017 – in the run-up to the UN Day for South-South Cooperation was celebrated worldwide on September 12. – The Editor
GENEVA (IDN-INPS | SouthNews) – Since the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among developing countries (1978), South-South cooperation has been steadily gaining momentum and has shown encouraging trends. Many initiatives attest to the increasing importance of South-South cooperation as a growing dimension of international cooperation for development.
Interregional South-South summits held in recent years, most notably the India-Africa Forum Summit; the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation; the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Summit of South American-Arab Countries (ASPA); reached a multitude of fruitful outcomes, such as setting strategies and agendas, enhancing policy coordination and launching joint initiatives that have, in turn, also become key means for strengthening South-South trade and investment as well as infrastructure development. Additionally, among a number of other relevant exchanges were discussed regarding the attainment of sustainable development.
We strongly believe that in our collective efforts to implement and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as other commitments, the growing importance of South-South and Triangular Cooperation must be recognized but at the same time must not be overemphasized considering its role as a complement to and not a substitute of North-South Cooperation. And through South-South Cooperation, we, the developing countries, can manifest our solidarity among one another.
We would also like to reiterate our long-standing position that South-South Cooperation is a demonstration 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, as the 2030 Agenda. As laid out in the Nairobi Outcome document, South-South Cooperation and its agenda have to be set by countries of the South and should continue to 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.
The Group welcomes the progress made in the implementation of various projects and initiatives under South-South cooperation in recent years and reaffirms the importance of further strengthening the South-South cooperation, especially in the current international economic environment.
South-South cooperation has been taking place in a wide range of areas, in support of development processes in all their dimensions, including ending poverty and hunger, climate, infrastructure and humanitarian assistance. It is recognized the efforts made by the South through different and innovative ways and methods to the consecution of development projects, such as technical cooperation based on knowledge exchange with the ultimate goal of expanding capacities through mobilization of experts, field missions, technical outputs, and training, as well as financing and new resources granted among developing countries.
Furthermore, we would like to highlight the role of new regional banks of developing countries, which are designed to operate within and across regions under the belief that a revitalized partnership among Southern countries is possible. An example of that is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
A number of Southern national banks are similarly designed to invest at the regional or international level in order to provide external finance as part of their operations. In 2014, the stock of loans disbursed by the China Development Bank, the Export and Import Bank of China and the Brazilian National Development Bank amounted to $1,762 billion which is equal to more than five times the amount of loans of $328 billion, provided by the World Bank.
However, we would like to reiterate that South-South Cooperation is a complement, rather than a substitute for North-South cooperation and stresses the need to urgently address the unmet Official Development Assistance (ODA) – in accordance with the historical commitments of developed countries – taking into account that it is still the main channel of financing development for developing countries.
We reaffirm the paramount importance of ODA to support the sustainable development needs of developing countries, in particular, African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small islands developing States, as well as middle-income countries, countries in conflict and post-conflict situations, and countries and people under foreign occupation.
Also, the Group of 77 and China would like to recall the importance of Triangular Cooperation. During the past years, this kind of cooperation has become more relevant in the current architecture of the International Cooperation and has the opportunity to assume a prominent role into 2030 Agenda.
We are aware that Triangular Cooperation is a bridge for achieving a productive dialogue and interaction between North-South Cooperation and South-South Cooperation. We are convinced that Triangular Cooperation allows the interrelationship between different experiences of cooperation, promoting the encounter with other development actors.
The Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) + 40 to be held in 2019 represents an opportunity to enhance the current institutional arrangements to better support South-South cooperation and promote the South-South agenda and its principles. In this context, the Group of 77 and China strongly recommended the consolidation of existing mechanisms of South-South cooperation and called for the strengthening of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), so it can be transformed into a specialized agency for South-South cooperation to be located in a developing country.
Recalling that the principles in which South-South Cooperation are based are the common endeavours of peoples as an expression of solidarity, and it encourages to create initiatives on the basis of strong, genuine, broad-based partnerships, we believe that a joint work among South countries should be supported not only by developed partners but also by the UN system for the promotion of an action-oriented approach to development challenges in the context of the 2030 Agenda implementation. [IDN-InDepthNews – 14 September 2017]
Photo credit: Dr. Manuel F. Montes, Senior Advisor on Finance and Development of the South Centre, speaking at the ECOSOC DCF event in Buenos Aires held on September 6-8, 2017. Source: South Centre
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