Skip to main content

South-South Cooperation Offers Path to Balancing Growth, Deputy Secretary-General Says on United Nations Day, Urging Greater Partnership in Tackling Inequity

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, on United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, in New York today:

Today we celebrate the achievements of South-South cooperation for sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030) and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda have heralded a new era of commitment for South-South cooperation, that is why South-South and triangular collaboration is emphasized in frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Agenda for Humanity.

South-South and triangular cooperation offer a path to balancing growth and equity and leaving no one behind.

Sixty-two years ago, the Bandung conference was held in Indonesia.

Thirty-nine years ago today, Member States gathered in Buenos Aires and adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Technical Cooperation and Developing Countries.  The Buenos Aires Plan of Action was an expression of the aspirations of developing countries to strengthen their economic, social and political interdependence, accelerate development, and correct distortions in international systems caused by the asymmetrical power relations of the colonial era.

It was a reflection of their desire to promote cooperation among themselves as a complement to North-South cooperation in fostering international cooperation for development.  The adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action marked the beginning of a new phase of cooperation, providing a blueprint with a well-defined mechanism for implementation and follow-up.

Since the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was adopted, there has been an expansion of the substantive focus on South-South cooperation beyond technical and economic cooperation to other partnerships at the nexus of peace and development.  These include partnerships in humanitarian work, climate change, migration, peacebuilding, mediation, conflict resolution and prevention.

There has also been an expansion of actors, including subnational entities, such as municipal and provincial governments and non-State actors.

Solutions and strategies created in the South are delivering lasting results around the world.  Nearly every country in the global South is engaged in South-South cooperation.  Recently, the Belt and Road Initiative, championed by China, has partnered with more than 100 countries and many United Nations entities.  In addition, China’s South-South Climate Change Cooperation Fund is now operational and is funding climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

India has announced a $10 billion concessional line of credit to Africa over the next five years.  It is also leading the International Solar Alliance, which supports developing countries to boost their solar production capacity.  And the Strategic Association Agreement, established by Mexico and Chile, has promoted international cooperation in political and commercial areas.

In Asia and the Pacific, South-South trade accounts for 54 per cent of total exports and 53 per cent of imports.  The recently established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will provide between 10 and 15 billion dollars in loans each year over the next 15 years, prioritizing sustainability and inclusive growth.

Across the global South, we have seen remarkable advances.  However, progress has been uneven.  Extreme poverty, deep inequality, unemployment, malnutrition and vulnerability to climate and weather-related shocks persist.  According to the United Nations Multidimensional Poverty Index, 2.2 billion people still live in abject poverty.  About 1.4 billion people, the majority in the South, still have no reliable electricity, 900 million do not have access to clean water and 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation.

South-South collaboration and partnership offer the opportunity to turn these statistics around.  The countries of the South can collectively use their growing potential to meet their infrastructural needs and target investments in green technologies and public goods that are critical for sustainable development.

Together, we must identify and encourage the critical areas where South-South cooperation can be effective.  These include policy coordination, regional and economic integration, interregional linkages and the development of national productive capacity through the exchange of knowledge and technology.

I encourage the countries of the South to further deepen their cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  This, of course, must be accomplished with the support of the North.

South-South cooperation should not be seen as a substitute for North-South cooperation but as complementary, and we invite all countries and organizations to engage in supporting triangular cooperation initiatives.  I urge all developed nations to fulfil their official development assistance commitments.

As we continue to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, the increasing momentum of South-South cooperation also needs to be supported by strengthened institutionalization of these collaborative efforts.

The General Assembly has decided to bring all stakeholders together at a High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation to formalize and link South-South cooperation to the international development architecture.

The Conference will be generously hosted by Argentina on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.  It will enable us to coordinate our South-South efforts, build bridges, cement partnerships, and establish sustainable strategies for scaling up impact together.  I encourage you all to contribute to the process in your areas of expertise.

On this United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, let us reaffirm our commitment to mutually beneficial approaches that will ensure shared prosperity and make sustainable development a reality.

For information media. Not an official record.