The year 2019 marked the beginning of a transformative era for South-South and triangular cooperation, with the conclusion of the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires and the adoption of its outcome document. South-South cooperation (SSC) is now emphasized in over 80 States as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, and that there has been a surge in new partnerships.
As the largest developing country, China has been an active advocate and promoter of SSC. Nevertheless, South-South and triangular cooperation still face a number of significant challenges at the international level, as well as in China. For example, much of the transfer of knowledge and skills has been one way, and most activities are still carried out by Governments, with minimal participation from the private sector. In addition, the mobilization of funds is limited, and they are not used efficiently.
Towards a Solution
In 2008, the China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) jointly launched the China South-South Development Center (China SSDC) Project to facilitate the systematic sharing of Chinese expertise and knowledge with other developing countries. It also sought to consolidate resources and mobilize partnerships within China in a coordinated manner. Upon conclusion of the China SSDC Project, which ran from 2008 to 2019, a comprehensive independent evaluation indicated that the Project was well aligned with the principles of South-South cooperation, represented good value for the money and resources allocated, benefited from strong management, had a positive impact on beneficiaries, was sustainable and addressed cross-cutting issues.
Building on the Project’s success, the Government of China has committed to providing continued institutional and financial support to UNOSSC on a second phase (2019–2023) under the Global South-South Development Center (Global SSDC) Project. CICETE will continue to serve as the national implementing partner in China and will host the Global SSDC Project Office.
The Global SSDC Project will:
- place greater emphasis on two-way sharing of knowledge and expertise for mutual learning between China and other countries
- expand the existing network beyond China, reposition itself as a true global network of centres of excellence for SSC and leverage partnerships with various stakeholders from multilateral agencies, civil society, the private sector and think tanks
- align support with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global development frameworks
- provide advocacy and advisory support and conduct sector-specific research and analysis to inform global policy discourse for SSC
The China SSDC Project and the Global SSDC Project have promoted economic and technical exchanges among developing countries through training, workshops and small-grant proposals. To date, there have been 21 small-grant proposals under the two SSDC Projects across various thematic areas including agriculture, forestry, new energy, environmental protection and industrial development. These projects have benefited over 30 developing countries. The funding resources brought in through public-private partnerships exceeded the core funds provided by the SSDC Projects to implement these projects. Partners and participating institutions from developing countries gained access to technologies, equipment and facilities, as well as opportunities to gain knowledge and develop capacity. Some examples of small-grant proposals include:
- Proposal for comprehensive solutions for city waste management in Senegal
- Promotion of small hydropower in Nepal and Southern Asian countries
- Training stakeholders in forest fungi system agroforestry in Nepal, India and China
- Value-added bamboo processing development in Vanuatu
- Promoting prefabricated housing in Liberia
- Promoting Africa’s broadcast television dubbing skills
- Technical demonstration of a standardized rice-fish farming system in Myanmar
- Technical cooperation for an environmentally friendly bioinsecticide of emamectin water
- dispersible granule formulation plant in South Africa
- Building efficiency, research and development, and the application of energy-efficient wall systems tailored for Viet Nam and Cambodia
- Many good practices and lessons learned have been documented. Sector-specific analyses and timely news briefs were published and disseminated within and beyond the networks.
Given their wide thematic scope, the SSDC Projects have contributed to all the SDGs, particularly SDG 17 on partnerships. The SSDC Projects strongly value practical cooperation among developing countries. By facilitating the exchange of experiences and technical capacity-building workshops, the SSDC Projects allow partners in other countries to pass this knowledge on to peers and colleagues. Moving forward, the Global SSDC Project will continue to position itself as a platform and global knowledge hub for SSC.