19 December: International Day for South-South Cooperation
The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation reminds us that we are a global community and that, wherever we live in the world, we must work in partnership towards economic growth and sustainable development.
South-South cooperation is an invaluable complement to North-South cooperation.
Countries at similar levels of development, and that share similar philosophies of development, are particularly well placed to help each other. And cooperative ventures have enormous benefits for emerging economies and developing economies alike.
Today, nearly one billion women, men and children go to bed hungry every night. Most live in the rural areas of developing countries.
Around 95 per cent of the people considered food insecure or poor live in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. Of these, two-thirds live in Asia.
At a time when the world’s population is growing, and the availability of new arable land is shrinking, ensuring food and nutrition security is our greatest development challenge.
Much of the growing South-South cooperation is between middle-income and low-income countries. Middle-income countries are both donors and recipients of aid, giving them a unique perspective on the development process. They play an increasingly important role in the international development architecture, as donors, trading partners and sources of expertise.
In the past, South-South cooperation consisted primarily of sharing technical developments, including the improvement of livestock breeds, health, food processing and efficient water use. Today, in addition to exchanges at the technical level, this cooperation involves dialogue on regional policy coordination and other government actions that are crucial to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Partnership has always been central to IFAD’s business model. IFAD itself was created as a partnership between the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other developing countries, and the partnership model guides our work. As a result, one of IFAD’s strengths is in facilitating a broad response to the key issues facing smallholders and poor rural people, and mobilizing cofinancing for rural development programmes.
It is in this area, in particular, that IFAD will focus in the future, working more closely with our Member States to develop a South-South cooperation strategy, while continuing to mainstream South-South cooperation into our programme of work.
Agricultural technologies that have helped middle-income countries can be valuable for smallholder farmers in other countries who face similar challenges, particularly water-saving and soil-related technologies and aquaculture methods. In Madagascar, for example, Chinese experts helped with a hybrid rice development and demonstration centre where 34 strains of Chinese hybrid rice were grown.
The average yield per hectare was two to three times higher than the average output of local rice.
IFAD’s involvement in South-South cooperation goes to the heart of strengthening our collaboration with the most important partners of all: poor rural people themselves. It is a focus in a number of our country strategies, including Brazil, China and India.
IFAD’s South-South activities are entirely designed, developed, implemented and supervised at the country or regional level.
By maximizing South-South cooperation, we will be better placed to reduce poverty and hunger, and to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Collaboration among the countries of the South is now firmly embedded in the international agenda, and growing. It was endorsed in the Accra Agenda for Action on aid effectiveness, underscoring its importance in making best use of donor funding.
As we commemorate this year’s United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, IFAD is making plans to scale up our strategic support for collaboration among developing countries.