Report of the Secretary-General on the State of South-South Cooperation Highlights South-South Policies and Programmes to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Promote Recovery

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Main Highlight Oct 2021

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Adel Abdellatif, Director, Ad Interim (a.i.) of the United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation, introduced the 2021 Report of the Secretary-General on the State of South-South Cooperation to the Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) of the General Assembly on 14 October.

The report focuses on concrete measures undertaken by the United Nations development system to expand its support to South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives of Member States at the global, regional and national levels since the release of the previous report (A/75/234), including implementation of the recommendations contained in the Buenos Aires outcome document of the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) and contributions to global efforts to tackle the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The report also highlights the growing relevance, mainstreaming and institutionalization of United Nations support to such cooperation.

The report concludes with recommendations on ways to further utilize South-South cooperation as a key development modality to accelerate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development during the current Decade of Action.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact of reversing progress in eradicating extreme poverty and in achieving other Sustainable Development Goals as well as the glaring disparity in access to the COVID-19 vaccines between developed countries and some low- and middle-income countries, along with extreme weather events, have highlighted the enhanced value and heightened need for strengthened multilateralism and more effective South-South cooperation,” said Mr. Abdellatif, pointing to some new developments in the area of South-South and triangular cooperation highlighted in the report:

  • First, the solidarity underpinning South-South cooperation enabled many developing countries to obtain urgently needed medications, vaccines and medical supplies from their Southern partners during the pandemic.
  • Second, developing countries, with support by United Nations entities, increasingly engaged in South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives facilitated by a range of institutional and other mechanisms, including pilot projects, centres of excellence, digital platforms, networks, think tanks, databases, focal points and multi-stakeholder partnerships. To support COVID-19 response and recovery, United Nations organizations supported the scaling up and sharing of good practices as well as capacity development in areas such as governance, health, education, social protection, green recovery, agriculture, e-commerce, digitalization and financing among countries of the Global South.
  • Third, within the United Nations development system, there has been a remarkable shift from an ad hoc to a more programmatic, focused approach that enabled South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation to play a more prominent role in operational activities for development. United Nations organizations strengthened national ecosystems for South-South cooperation and their own institutional capacity, including through the design of strategies and the establishment of specialized units and programmes with human and financial resources dedicated to South-South and triangular cooperation.

The report also demonstrates how UNOSSC played an important role in coordinating South-South and triangular cooperation across the United Nations development system, including through the United Nations Inter-Agency Mechanism for South-South and Triangular Cooperation and the preparation of the first United Nations system-wide strategy on South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development and its action plan.

In preparing the report, UNOSSC relied mainly on survey data that it had collected for that purpose in 2021 from 23 United Nations entities and regional commissions.

The report may be read in conjunction with other relevant reports describing the state of South-South cooperation during the reporting period and should be read alongside the “Report of the Secretary-General on progress made in the implementation of decision 19/1 of the High-level Committee and proposals to advance South-South and triangular cooperation as an important element of the global development cooperation to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (SSC/20/2) and that of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) titled “Review of progress made in implementing the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the new directions strategy for South-South cooperation, the Nairobi outcome document of the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation and the Buenos Aires outcome document of the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation” (SSC/20/1) that were submitted to the twentieth session of the High-level Committee on South-South cooperation in June 2021. The Committee report on that session (A/76/39) also contains much information on the state of South-South cooperation, particularly regarding the activities of Member States from the global North and the global South at the national and regional levels.

Report of the Secretary-General on the State of South-South Cooperation is linked here: