Expert’s take: Harnessing South-South and Triangular Cooperation to accelerate inclusive development

Date: Friday, December 1, 2017

About the author

A.H. Monjurul Kabir, Senior Programme Adviser, Head of the Asia-Pacific and Least Developed Countries Section, and UN Women Global Lead on South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

A.H. Monjurul Kabir is the Senior Programme Adviser, Head of the Asia-Pacific and Least Developed Countries Section, and UN Women Global Lead on South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Prior to joining UN Women, Mr. Kabir worked with UNDP offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Slovakia, Europe and Central Asia, Southern Africa, USA in both programme, development policy, and management responsibilities. During his 18-year career in this field, Mr. Kabir’s work has spanned shaping and influencing public policies, promoting institutional development, as well as working with and for vulnerable groups and marginalized communities in making development work for the poor. Mr. Kabir a Ph.D. in Politics from University of Hull, and LL.M in International Human Rights Law from University of Essex, United Kingdom.

Recent years have seen almost universal agreements on several complementary development frameworks. These include the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, the Agenda for Humanity – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement. In these complementary development frameworks, Member States have continued to emphasize the importance of South-South and Triangular Cooperation for action.

The SDGs depict a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world that leaves no one behind. However, not every country has the capacity to advance simultaneously the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing the principle of leaving no one behind is easier said than done. South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) could be a key vehicle to achieve sustainable development by developing capacities and sharing knowledge between developing and developed countries.

Emerging trends and potentials

The new type of SSTC differs from the previous decades both in terms of scale and implications for global governance. The practice SSTC has brought significant benefits to more countries in different regions in terms of sustainable human development. It has led to increased institutional and technical capacities at various levels of government, civil society, academia, and the private sector. It has also enabled countries in middle income and upper middle-income countries to join forces on specific themes, producing faster progress (such as in vocational and skill development training), higher impact (such as on mine action in post-conflict and frozen conflict areas, food security in South Asia) and innovative tools (such as evaluating public policies and assessing impacts in Latin America and the Child Protection Index in Eastern Europe).

SSTC is also spreading to new areas, such as finance and infrastructure, featuring a few potentially game changing initiatives such as the New Development Bank (NDB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and various cooperative forums led by the South with Africa, International Meeting(s) on Gender Statistics in Mexico to mention a few. In fact, if its evolution even remotely parallels that of the World Bank, it might end up having a formative impact on economic policy-making and overall development strategy in the Global South. While there is no shortage of national and regional development banks as well as private financiers of infrastructure projects, there is still a massive gap in development finance, estimated to be as high as US$1 trillion per year. These and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have agreed to strengthen their collaboration to attract private sector capital for funding vital infrastructure that will help countries worldwide attain inclusive growth and fulfill their commitments to the Paris climate change pact. These institutions have already made an effort to establish more equal relationships with their lower-income developing peers and emphasized an attractive narrative of partnership, non-intervention and knowledge transfer, For all these reasons, these initiatives are likely to have deeper impacts on global development cooperation including South-South Cooperation and on achieving the 2030 Agenda.

Read the full story on UN Women's regional website for Europe and Central Asia.