12 September 2017, Dhaka, Bangladesh
South-South Cooperation: The populations living in the Southern Hemisphere account for a majority of the global population. Certainly, the development of the global south is nothing but the development of majority of the global population. Undoubtedly, the transition from MDGs to SDGs of the development paradigm of the 21st century is a firm pointer to think globally and act locally. In this perspective, the notion of South-South Cooperation (SSC) today occupies a dominant epitome in the international development discourse. The growing prosperity of southern countries empowers an increasing number of countries to engage in cooperation and extend their provision of development assistance.
South-South Day: Marking the importance of South-South Cooperation, the United Nations General Assembly decided from 2012 to observe
12 September as the South-South Cooperation day, commemorating the adoption in 1978 of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries. With the intention of fully utilizing the enormous number of available Southern development solutions to address emerging Southern challenges, the UN Secretary-General, in his report to the sixty-second session of the General Assembly (A/62/295), formally requested the international development community, including the United Nations system, to help scale up the impact of South-South cooperation.
South-South in Parallel to North-South: The diverse political, social, economic and cultural realities between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres have created the “North-South” divide inevitably. The Global North is comprised of North America and Western Europe, followed by the developed countries of East Asia; the Global South encompasses Africa, Latin America, and the developing economies of Asia and the Middle East. However, economically the North controls over one-fifth of the entire global population and four-fifths of the global world economy. Most of the industries and production companies have their headquarters in the North. The South, on the other hand, comprises one-third of the developing economies and one-fifth of the world economy. This “gap in development” has instigated a series of issues in the South that historically has necessitated political, economic, social, cultural, environmental or technical cooperation and collaboration between countries of the global south from where South-South cooperation originated.
PPD – the frontline of SSC: In the context of population transition of developing countries and the demographic ageing phase of global north, the importance of South-South Cooperation is very vivid. However, the real challenge for Partners in Population and Development (PPD) lies in being able to introduce an institutional framework for an effective SSC.
PPD is a vibrant example of South-South Cooperation (SSC). A product of ICPD, PPD has been enabling national institutions to promote horizontal cooperation in the field of reproductive health, population and development. Over the past two decades, the organization’s annual inter-ministerial conferences have provided a peer review mechanism for the member countries on all aspects of population and development issues. A robust system of governance exists with a Board consisting of Ministers from Member Countries (MCs), a focal Partner Country Coordinator (PCC) from each of the 26 MCs, a network of 23 Partner Institutions (PIs) in 14 countries, a Secretariat in Bangladesh, regional office in Uganda, program office in China, liaison offices in New York, Geneva and Bangkok; and expertise gained from a successful track record of facilitating South-South Cooperation (SSC) by way of senior level peer review and policy dialogue, capacity building and transfer of knowhow is the base strength steering PPD to enhance its mechanism of cooperation to diplomacy. The unique status of Permanent Observer in the UN, and the avenue of diplomacy for Population and SRHR are highly inspiring for PPD. PPD is perhaps the only intergovernmental platform that speaks for the south from the south, and the mode of cooperation is run by the south. Undoubtedly, the platform has the rare opportunity to speak as a combined voice of the South in the United Nations.
Developing countries are the agent of SSC: PPD believes that developing countries are the agents of action in South-South Cooperation, not just as partners, but as leaders of the development process. In the higher global context, people are not only fighting against poverty, but also craving for a dignified life with human rights as the mainstream component of all development initiatives. Development can no longer be framed simply as a matter of foreign aid. Development is nowadays a collaborative path towards globally defined and nationally-owned objectives. Diverse forms of cooperation and innovative partnerships, both with and among developing countries are imperative. The dynamic model of development is well exercised where capacity building, self-reliance, and the sustainable development of countries from the Global South are strongly emphasized. PPD, making use of its unique platform, has put forward the emergence of South-South Cooperation and opened up newer opportunities for countries in the Global South to participate with a stronger voice in the global development debate, while actively shaping the course of change rather than being passive receivers.
SDG and SSC: Partnership is to catalyze global solidarity for sustainable development. Across the full spectrum of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the importance of South-South Cooperation is evident. Goal 17 calls for a strengthening of ‘the means of implementation’ and a revitalization of ‘the global partnership for sustainable development’. SDG17 make explicit reference to South-South Cooperation as an instrument to enhance access to technology and innovation for developing countries, to build national capacity and, more broadly, to support the overall implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. South to South Partnership (Partnership of developing countries) and collaboration have an enduring legacy for achieving population and development goals from International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) era. The ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), adopted in 1994 by 179 Member States, laid out a far-sighted plan for advancing human
wellbeing that places the human rights of individuals, at the centre of the global development agenda rather than as numerical population targets,.
Remarks of PPD: ICPD PoA metamorphosed into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and further graduated to SDGs. Since inception, during ICPD, PPD has traveled a long way of more than 22 years; reshuffled its priority with the post ICPD+, bring the line of its strategic direction to MDGs and lastly prepare the most revised a five -year strategic action plan for 2015-2019 aligned with SDGs.
PPD proved that the inter-governmental negotiation, through an inclusive and consensus-based decision-making process, is essential for development across the South. South-South Cooperation is not just a technocratic strategy; it is also the embodiment of a new world order in which the Global South has assumed political and economic leadership as never before. It is high time for the southern nations to understand the importance of constitutionalizing South-South Cooperation in order to make it more efficient and successful. In concurrence, Developing countries can play their role in ensuring ‘no one is left behind’
South-South Cooperation – its evolution
1955, The Bandung Conference forecasted a meeting of Asian and African states that celebrated their independence.
1978, The Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries.
1994, The Cairo ICPD and its Program of Action (PoA) put forward new concepts such as the “integrated population and development strategy”, “all-round human-centered development” and “reproductive health”, set the goal of coordinated and sustainable development, ushering in a new era of population and development programs, and PPD was incepted. PPD is the first initiative to institutionalize South-South Cooperation.
2000, The Millennium Summit where measurable and verifiable goals in a given time, the eight Millennium Development Goals, were established to renew and further impulse the efforts for guaranteeing development;
2009, The Nairobi Conference on South-South Cooperation organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action and to strengthen the role of the United Nations system in supporting South-South and triangular cooperation
2013, UN General Assembly significantly mentioned South-South Cooperation and a resolution was adopted in concurrence in the 71st plenary meeting on 20 December 2013. The Resolution was recognized as important with a different history and particularities of South-South Cooperation, and reaffirming its view of South-South cooperation as a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South.
In 2016, The Beijing Call for Action recognized population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and gender equality are at the core of sustainable development, and that deepening South-South Cooperation in this field will contribute to the health and well-being of all people in developing countries and their sustainable development at large.