China was not only a supporter and initiator of South-South cooperation (SSC) in its nascent stage, it is also a major contributor to growth in Southern countries today, playing more of a leading role in SSC than ever before. It firmly safeguards the new globalization model, works to build a community with a shared future for humankind, advocates new development concepts nationwide and advances the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Nevertheless, South-South and triangular cooperation still face a number of important challenges at the international level, as well as in China. For example, while globalization has enabled many people to escape poverty, its benefits are not shared equitably and its costs fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable. Improved cooperation is therefore needed so that countries may learn from each other, grow more quickly, close income gaps and build inclusive, resilient societies. Greater efforts are needed to leverage partnerships with stakeholders from multilateral agencies, civil society, the private sector and think tanks to increase their engagement in SSC.
Towards a Solution
The China South-South Cooperation Network (China SSC Network) was established in 1995. It connects over 20 national research and training centres set up through projects supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The Network has strongly promoted technical and economic cooperation among developing countries by providing consultancy services, sharing knowledge, organizing seminars and facilitating exchange visits. Through the Network’s platform, member institutions have access to seed money from the Pérez-Guerrero Trust Fund for South-South Cooperation (PGTF), which has been in operation for 37 years. In past decades, member institutions have successfully implemented 47 projects with support from PGTF, in areas including agriculture, forestry, fishery, renewable energy, information technology, clean water and financial services. PGTF projects have reached over 60 developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania. Examples include:
- Demonstration and promotion of high-yield and high-quality cultivation and advanced processing technology of Spirulina in developing countries
- Successful bamboo development model in China and its implications in Indonesia and Viet Nam
- Improvement of recirculating aquaculture system performance in Viet Nam and Sri Lanka
- Application and dissemination of reinforced fiberglass biogas digester for remote and low-income households
- International cooperation of e-government promotion and exchange for developing countries
- Integrated solutions to drinking water safety issues in rural areas
- Accessibility of financial services and the private sector in Africa
The China SSC Network brings together resources and expertise from various industries and sectors. Member institutions include:
- Biogas Institute of Ministry of Agriculture
- Centre for Mountain Futures, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences
- China-Africa Business Council
- Freshwater Fisheries Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences
- Fujian Cross-Straits Technology Transfer Center
- International Centre for Materials Technology Promotion
- International Center on Small Hydropower
- Jiangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences
- Nantong Pesticide Formulation Development Centre
- National Bamboo Research Center
- Promotion Association for Mountain-River-Lake Regional Sustainable Development of Jiangxi Province
Globalization has highlighted the need to strengthen multilateral cooperation, governance and global solidarity. Member institutions gather for the Network’s annual meeting each year to explore deeper and more extensive South-South partnerships. Meeting themes have included a new orientation for SSC, as well as knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and technology transfer. Based on their international cooperation experience, meeting participants discuss opportunities, advantages and challenges facing SSC from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Thematic workshops are also organized during the annual meeting. Member institutions are experts in their fields and enjoy fruitful South-South and international partnerships. There are often lively discussions on how to better strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation. Member institutions appreciate the thematic workshops, which improve their capacity and awareness and provide them a platform to exchange views and experiences.
Given the China SSC Network’s broad thematic scope, the platform has made considerable contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Millennium Development Goals before that. For example, the Network has primarily contributed to SDG 17 by promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development. Special attention has been given to women in projects funded by PGTF to ensure their full and effective participation, which contributes markedly to SDG 5 on gender equality.
Every country addresses specific challenges in its path towards sustainable development. The many complex and interlinking challenges facing the international community require even stronger partnerships. Therefore, the China SSC Network will continue to facilitate and implement projects involving South-South and triangular cooperation in support of achieving the SDGs. Given its success, the Network could inspire institutions from the global South to work together. Bringing together a wide range of centres of excellence in multiple fields allows them to offset deficiencies and seek common development, to the benefit of all. The Network has continued to develop sustainably for over 25 years because of the willingness of its member institutions to look to the international stage and promote South-South and triangular cooperation with mutual benefit. The Network also receives support from the China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges, a specialized executing agency under the Ministry of Commerce of China, as well as from United Nations projects, especially the China South-South Development Center project.