For the South Centre, South-South cooperation (SSC) has long been a reality for the South. It is reflected in the long history of political, economic, social, and development cooperation that many developing countries have been undertaking with each other.
South-South cooperation is shaped by the ideals of developing countries working together in a spirit of equality and mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and independence in order to promote their mutual development in the context of their different national circumstances. These were first articulated in the 1955 African-Asian Conference in Bandung that led to the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement and the 1964 Charter of Algiers creating the Group of 77. Since then, these key ideals of mutual cooperation and assistance and respect for national sovereignty have also been reflected in the various regional integration instruments created by developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean; and continually reiterated in the various multilateral summits and ministerial declarations issued by the NAM and the Group of 77. These are the ideals that the South Centre was established to promote, and assist developing countries in promoting, when our Centre was established in 1994 after the South Commission.
The most recent articulation of these South-South cooperation principles are in the G77’s 2008 Yamoussoukro Principles of South-South Cooperation adopted by the G77 Ministerial Meeting in 2008.
In this context, let me respond to the guide questions from the moderator:
What are the capacities and priority that need to be developed? Of great priority for SSC in relation to climate change and SDGs are the following capacities:
Institutional capacity for both the delivery and absorption of SSC-sourced finance, technology and expertise, at the national, regional, and multilateral level among developing countries.
Policy integration capacity to enable developing countries to appropriately integrate SSC support into long-term sustainable development and climate change planning and implementation.
Resource capacity needs to be generated, both internally within developing countries and externally to enable greater levels of SSC support to flow among developing countries.
What modalities offer the greatest potential for SSC and how could nationally determined contributions (NDCs) benefit from them? SSC modalities that offer the greatest potential would be those that capitalize and focus on enhancing the ability of developing countries themselves to define their priorities, shape their programmes and projects, and enhance direct cooperation among themselves through their national, regional or multilateral institutions. These modalities will have to be diverse, given the nature of SSC that these modalities will have to respond to.
In this context, though, SSC modalities must focus on fostering a PEERS-based process of cooperation among developing countries. This process can be best encapsulated by the acronym PEERs: People are important and should focus on creating a community of practitioners and experts among developing countries and their institutions focused on enhancing and strengthening SSC initiative together; Exchanging expertise and experience on SSC among developing countries; Establishing SSC institutions and processes at the national, regional, and multilateral level, particularly in the institutions of the South and within multilateral partners such as the United Nations; Resources are crucial and must be provided if SSC is to become a major driver for supporting action among developing countries on climate change and SDGs; and Strategic Southern thinking and the shaping of SSC policy directions by the South is crucial in order to generate long-term ownership and engagement.
As practically applied to NDCs, a PEERS-based modality would reflect, for example, a focus on creating a broader community of national-level developing country expertise through cross-country exchanges among developing countries in relation to the preparation of, readiness for, and implementation of NDCs. This would include looking at how support could be provided to build or strengthen national and regional institutions that can support the strategic and sustainable development-oriented integration of NDCs (including its mitigation and adaptation components) into national long-term development plans and programmes. Such a modality would allow NDCs to be developed and implemented in a manner that becomes country-owned, nationally-appropriate and nationally-determined, and consistent and coherent with the country’s national development, poverty eradication, and industrialization policies and strategies.
International community stakeholders, including IGOs, the UN, and the public sector, can best facilitate and support pragmatic SSC activities by:
Prioritizing and focusing on expanding the developing country community of practitioners and experts on SSC in relation to climate change and SDGs;
Working with developing countries and their institutions to develop institutional capacity – e.g. through ministries - for SSC activities in relation to NDCs and SDGs that would assist developing countries in integrating NDC- and SDG-related actions and policies into their national development planning and programmes;
Assisting in and facilitating cross-country flows of SSC-related resources, including finance and technology, by working with developing country governments and their regional and multilateral institutions so as to ensure that such flows are mutually supportive of the policy priorities of the participating countries in relation to NDCs, SDGs and their national development priorities.