Opening Remarks by H.E. Ms Lindiwe Zulu, MP, Honorable Chair of PPD Board on the occasion of Webinar on Sharing the Best Practices in RH/FP and Population from PPD Member Countries – 23rd March 2021

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning/ afternoon/ evening wherever you are.

On behalf of the PPD and my Government, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you in this collective event. I thank H.E. Dr. Hasto Wardoyo, Treasurer, PPD Board and Hon. Chairperson, National Population and Family Planning Board, Indonesia, Mr. Mr. Arthur Erken, Director of the Policy and Strategy Division of UNFPA, and PPD Executive Director Mr. Adnene Ben Haj Aissa for organizing this important dissémination webinar on Best Practices today.

I am very pleased to learn that PPD has documented 11 best practices with the financial support of UNFPA during 2019 and 2020 on the PPD’s seven identified priority areas: population and development; universal access to sexual and reproductive health and family planning, women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health; gender equality; healthy ageing; migration; and poverty alleviation with particular emphasis on emerging population issues.

PPD Partners Country Coordinators (PCCs), have donated their time, efforts and talent to support consultants for completing the best practices in their respective countries. Without their support, it would not have been possible. I thank all PPD PCCs for their generous support to keep PPD very active.

The mandate of Partners in Population and Development (PPD) is to promote South-South Cooperation (SSC) through exchange of knowledge, experiences and best practices among its member countries (MCs) and other developing countries in reproductive health population and development field.

The outcome document of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in March 2019, re-emphasized the role of SSC in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At Nairobi Summit ICPD25 in November 2019, South-South and Triangular Cooperation was acknowledged as an alternative financial tool for achieving ICPD and SDGs. In July 2020, UN Secretary General Issued the United Nation’s systematic strategies for SSC and in January 2021, UNFPA has introduced an independent evaluation report with all members’ states, and the results formatted evaluation on SSC along with the report. UNFPA certainly will strengthen SSC through upcoming next Strategic Plan 2022-25, so that globally every sectors of actors realize the potential of SSC as a tool to achieve ICPD and SDGs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both PPD and UNFPA have been joined together with a Win-Win arrangement to strengthen SSC to achieve ICPD and SDGs through the transfer of knowledge, expertise, technology and resources. The South-South Cooperation provide an opportunity to both a provider country with a win of additional international experience and exposure that may lead to future opportunities in cooperation, trade and investment; and the recipient country wins by gaining expertise and resources from the provider in an area that was challenging to address by alone without cooperation of others. The political commitments of PPD member countries are stronger towards promoting SSC than any similar inter-governmental organisation members who run through the financial and in kind contribution from the memberships.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to hear that PPD in 2011, first time, a consolidate books titled “Innovative Experiences in Addressing Population and Reproductive Health Challenges in PPD Member States” of 9 best practices published with the financial support of UNFPA, UNDP, the UN special Unit for South-South Cooperation and launched the book in Pretoria during its Board Meeting in presence of my predecessor H.E. Ms. Bathabile Dlamini, Honorable Minister of Social Development, Government of the Republic of South Africa.

I am very proud to be part of the fourth successful documentation of 11 best practices from 11 countries which is a great success of PPD and making opening remarks as Chair of PPD Board. Another 11 population policy best practices published by PPD with the support of Gillespie Foundation in 2012 and later 9 best practices on healthy ageing published by PPD and Gillespie Foundation jointly in 2017.

A series of international events, forums and seminars including China-Africa Forum on Population and Development have been established in recent years to exchange and disseminate success experiences of developing countries in the field of population and reproductive health.

The scholarships and exchange of experts programmes is a unique SSC bridge established by PPD member countries which contribute to the advancement of knowledge and professional skills development and international understanding in the areas of RH, population and development. India, Egypt and South Africa are facilitating more than 40 scholarships annually for young professionals of PPD member countries.

I thank my government to facilitate 10 one-year post graduation scholarships and 15 short course scholarships since 2010 to PPD member countries to promote South-South cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express our sincere appreciation that this knowledge sharing tools of best practices will help country to support each other to address county context problem and achieve the national commitments made during the Nairobi summit.  I am happy to hear that with the support of UNFPA, PPD strengthening national level Taskforces for South-South Cooperation to facilitate technical knowledge to expedite the achievement of national commitments.

I believe in your collective experience over the years. The willingness to strengthen your existing efforts with the support of your Government will certainly strengthen our collaborative efforts to promote South-South cooperation. The PPD will continue to be an active partner in action to achieve three transformative results.

The global COVID-19 crisis is an urgent call to action to recover the gains achieved so far and preserve the hard-won progress in reducing maternal, infant and child deaths, addressing unmet needs for family planning and reproductive health, improving women’s health and empowering them in matters of family choice.

Population and development issues demand a rethink in a time of crisis to devise new strategies to address emerging population and reproductive health issues through collective efforts. The pandemic outbreak has changed the contours of professional life of people everywhere. The population problem cannot be a single country issue; it equally affects everyone everywhere. COVID-19 pandemic is not considering race, religion, language or border when it strikes. This is a crucial moment to pursue innovative policies and programs and look for alternative financial resources to respond to post COVID-19 recovery. South-South cooperation and partnerships can together make a robust response to this crisis.

The global response and conduct should attach primacy to solidarity, brotherhood and partnership. Exchange of good practices, capacity building, knowledge sharing and technical cooperation through the promotion of South-South Cooperation on policy responses will help mitigate the impact of the pandemic crisis.

Enhanced cooperation and partnerships across countries offer an effective avenue for building more capacity to create and implement joint development solutions. These solutions are more important than ever in the new era of global agreement implementation. SSC is an effective platform for ensuring capacity development, providing a choice of inter-country cooperation and support leading to horizontal partnerships, guaranteeing cost effectiveness, providing relevant and multicultural context specific solutions and diversifying knowledge sharing and exchange expertise.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Knowledge gaps and resources are major obstacles to progress and realizing the full potential of SSC and its impact on sustainable development. The availability of information and quality of research on the scale and impact of SSC have not kept pace with the growing demand among southern partners for peer learning to further improve results. How the impact of SSC can be maximized and leveraged for the health and demographic outcome needs to be clarified during the pandemic crisis. It is very important to explore the progress that has been achieved through SSC.

SSC has facilitated the exchange of expertise and knowledge among the southern countries through supporting each other’s programs and activities which will continue to help solve many problems of the southern countries. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, southern countries supported other PPD member countries with medical team, masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Some evidence has been found in case of providing technical assistance for the exchange of best practices, despite the main intervention area of SSC being the exchange of knowledge and best practices among countries. Effective SSC in population and development depends on institutional arrangements at individual country levels but there are critical challenges for institutionalization of SSC. The International Inter-Ministerial Conference on SSC in Population and Development is a unique high-level international forum where policy makers exchange their knowledge and lessons learnt from best practices.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We need to work together and  find solutions collectively. While the year-long pandemic crisis is threatening progress towards the ICPD and SDGs, it makes the countries’ attainment in these areas all the more urgent. Despite SSC’s contribution in achieving ICPD and SDGs in recent years,  there are critical challenges that have undermined the potentials of SSC. These are:

  • COVID-19 is one of the greatest challenges in promoting SSC in population, RH and development. It has negative impacts on poverty, health and well-being, and has disrupted economic and social development in developing countries.
  • Dynamism in leadership and political commitment with ownership and knowledge are catalysts for promoting SSC, but these are lacking among the southern leadership.
  • Young people represent about 50% of the population of the developing world, but there is a lack of meaningful engagement of young people in promoting SSC in bringing about innovative solutions for population, RH and development.
  • Centres of Excellence are needed for innovation, new partnerships, knowledge sharing and scaling up of proven approaches. But there is a lack of Centres of Excellence on SSC for population and development.
  • Institutionalization, operationalization and accountability of SSC are lacking among most countries. Institution building is thus essential for promoting SSC.
  • National budget allocation for SSC, and donors or international agencies’ priority funding — specifically for SSC in reproductive health, population and development are quite insufficient.
  • A national support structure comprising taskforces, think-tanks and networking research and training institutions and NGOs is needed for identifying national level policy gaps and formulation of policy initiatives. Lack of support structures undermines the visibility of SSC.
  • Success of SSC is undermined by the absence of well-defined national policies of SSC that need to be invigorated through national commitment.
  • Southern countries do not have sufficient tools to measure and evaluate how exchange of knowledge, skills, resources and technical know-how through SSC contribute to the global agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe we need to find jointly transformative pathways to build better South-South Cooperation:

  • Southern countries can build a strategic partnership and take coordinated actions around three basic principles: scaling-up best practices, mobilize resources on recovery from the pandemic; enhancing policy and program space; and building capacity and resilience.
  • Experience and information sharing and replication for policy and program changes especially among the Southern countries is an important approach to win the battle against COVID-19. The format of experience and information sharing could consist of online webinars, in-person seminars, electronic newsletters, social media communication through Facebook or Twitter, and development of “best practices” in the areas of reproductive health, family planning, maternal and child health, SRH in humanitarian setting, and population data.
  • Initiating South-South integration projects in the south could help countries jointly meet the challenges of post COVID-19 recovery in the areas of RH, FP and the maternal and child health.
  • The countries of PPD do need special attention and focus on national capacity building for maternal health and RH and GVB in the context of Nairobi commitments.
  • Organizing joint fellowships aiming to expand institutional capacity to promote exchange between young professionals and managers in the south, while addressing SRH, Maternal and Child Health.
  • Strengthening national taskforce for South-South Cooperation to promote multi-country bridge research, advocacy and leadership, and policy intervention.
  • Setting up a SSC pharmaceutical forum to strengthen the capacity of producing new medicines, vaccines, and medical equipment considering the emergency demands of developing countries.
  • Building and developing more effective Centers of Excellence and training national focal persons on South-South and triangular cooperation are an effective way to build national capacity for maternal and child health and reproductive health.
  • Digital monitoring tracker for SSC in achieving ICPD25 and SDGs is required to make sustainable financing for SSC.

Lastly, I wish you much success in your discussion, I hope you find encouragement in what has been accomplished thus far, and I hope you find renewal of strength and commitment for the work you set for yourselves.

I trust your work will lead to effective action that definitely help each other to find solution and achieve ICPD and SDGs by 2030.

Thank you.

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