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South-South Cooperation as a Mode of Engagement: Innovative Programme Solutions


South-South Cooperation Into the Decade of Action

As the world enters into the final and seemingly most challenging decade in the drive to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a familiar mechanism has gained greater mandate and momentum. South-South Cooperation (SSC) is about collaboration among developing countries. Its importance has been recognized in major multilateral agreements, not only in the landmark Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD POA) but also in the recent Second UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40). The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres characterized SSC’s role in today’s development agenda as offering a “unique pathway” that accelerates the global efforts towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

While its mandate and conceptual underpinnings have been established decades ago, SSC’s significance for global development has been bolstered more recently. The global South has recorded among the highest economic growth rates in history, lifting a huge swath of humanity out of poverty. A large number of developing countries have accumulated and are eager to share their knowledge and resources for development with other countries in similar contexts. The number, nature and scope of such partnerships have expanded greatly, and many have gone beyond regional boundaries and traditional partners.

The United Nations, with its global knowledge of partnership needs and opportunities, leverage its convening power to advocate for and facilitate SSC. At UNFPA, SSC has been made into one of the strategic modes of engagement in its current Strategic Plan 2018-2021. This move is consistent with the 2030 Agenda elevation of partnership and cooperation to a strategic goal (SDG17). It is also a response to the directives from the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of the United Nations Development System to, “mainstream and enhance support to South-South and triangular cooperation at the request, ownership, and leadership of developing countries.