Journey across the Global South: Sharing and exchanging sustainable development solutions

Despite progress, developing countries face a wide range of challenges and experiences that span areas such as economic growth, environmental and social conditions, often difficult to overcome

By Beth Bechdol
Published: Friday 18 September 2020
The important impact of South-South cooperation, referring to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South, is gradually making itself felt. Photo: FAO / A Masciarelli

Have you ever wondered how key development solutions between and among countries of the Global South are conceived, exchanged and shared? The answer is: South-South cooperation, referring to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South.

The important impact of South-South cooperation is gradually making itself felt, from providing know-how and practical technologies suitable for local conditions to tackling the issues of food insecurity, poverty and sustainable agriculture through innovative solutions.

Despite progress made in recent years, developing countries still face a wide range of challenges and experiences that span areas such as economic growth, environmental and social conditions, that are often multi-faceted and difficult to overcome. The good news is many of these answers can be found within the Global South.

In recent years, South-South and its close ally Triangular Cooperation (TrC) gained momentum in the development dialogue, having been acknowledged as important mechanisms in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Imagine a perfect triangle, with two or more countries of the Global South being the two extremes and its third vertex — typically a multilateral institution or a resource partner — perfectly closing the polygon, by providing support through South-South cooperation by the provision of financial, human, technical and in-kind resources.

To give some examples, northern partners in recent years implemented TrC projects, including through trust fund arrangements. A TrC project of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on sustainable value-chain development of rice, for instance, was launched in 2014, in collaboration with the Republic of Korea.

This was done to strengthen the business and entrepreneurial capacities of rice-producer organisations and small-scale enterprises in selected countries in west Africa. Another TrC project was launched in 2016 in partnership with Japan to promote sustainable agriculture, rural development, food security, trade and to achieve poverty alleviation in Africa.

The project aimed to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, a regional framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity.

Taking into account the current novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, these types of collaborations are now more meaningful than ever.

It is crucial to understand that South-South and TrC can play an effective role in addressing the challenges and vulnerabilities of food systems in the developing world, especially in view of the detrimental effects of COVID-19 and other related shocks.

What better time to start doing this, as we celebrate the UN South-South Cooperation Day on September 12, 2020.

Coming back to the global South countries, how does this benefit real recipients? How is South-South cooperation helping countries map out their capacity needs and knowledge gaps to find sustainable, cost-effective, long-lasting and economically viable solutions?

Sosorbaram Lkhagvaa, a 34-year-old from Mongolia, is one of the many beneficiaries of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation programme. Lkhagvaa is now working in a greenhouse farm supported by the programme.

He received direct training from Chinese experts deployed under the project to help cultivate different types of vegetables, integrate pest management in greenhouses and construct passive solar greenhouses. Lkhagvaa now dreams of establishing his own farm, with his passion for farming becoming indisputable.

Over the past ten years, the programme was able to reach more than 70,000 direct beneficiaries like Lkhagvaa at the grassroots level in rural areas and several hundreds of thousands of indirect beneficiaries.

Our journey in the Global South does not end here. South-South and TrC are clearly effective means of enhancing access to science, technology and innovation, sharing knowledge and expertise, and in developing national capacity, making this voyage one that has endless paths and possibilities.

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of  Down To Earth.

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