Ten Major Events of New South-South and Triangular Cooperation in 2019

January 7, 2020

Article by: Xiuli Xu, Dean of China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (CISSCA), Professor of the College of Humanitarian and Development Studies (COHD), China Agricultural University

In 2019, in the context of a series of global challenges such as anti-globalization, world economic recession and climate change, it becomes a key issue how to make international development cooperation a critical force for world peace and development. Traditional donors consolidate their leading position in the international development cooperation through a series of measures, such as innovating financing models, attracting more participants and improving the evaluation system. Emerging new models of South-South cooperation advocated by developing countries have gradually gone beyond the scope of traditional foreign aid and integrated a variety of practical cooperation modes such as cooperation in finance, investment, trade and infrastructure construction to improve the pertinence and effectiveness of development cooperation, which has a significant impact on the existing international development cooperation framework, contributes to global sustainable development and becomes a new focus of global attention. On the whole, the pursuit of economic development and justice, the advocacy of diversified development paths and cooperation models, and the establishment of mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation mechanisms have become new directions of the efforts of the international development community.

The New Year’s bell will soon ring. On the basis of summarizing the top ten events in 2019, China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (CISSCA) hereby sorts out ten major events in international development cooperation and South-South cooperation in 2019 for your reference. Wish you all happiness and peace in the New Year!

1. The Second High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40 Conference) takes place and South-South Cooperation ushers in a new historical stage

The first major event of South-South cooperation in 2019 is the BAPA + 40 Conference, which is another milestone 40 years after the 1978 United Nations Conference on technical cooperation among developing countries, marking a new stage of South-South cooperation. Themed on “the role of SSC and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: challenges and opportunities”, the Second High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40 Conference) took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 20th to 22nd March 2019. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina attended the opening ceremony. Hu Chunhua, Vice Premier of the State Council of PRC headed the Chinese delegation to attend the meeting and delivered a speech at the ceremony. The delegation visited the China exhibition area during the event. Nearly 4000 people from more than 160 countries, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and social groups attended the event. The meeting adopted the Buenos Aires Outcome Document of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, pointing out the direction for New South-South cooperation. With the increasing diversity of participants and cooperation modes, the conference points out, South-South cooperation has made outstanding contributions to alleviating global inequality, coping with climate change, accelerating infrastructure construction, promoting gender equality and enriching multilateral mechanisms. However, South-South cooperation is a supplement to North-South cooperation and cannot replace the official development assistance provided by developed countries and their corresponding international responsibilities.

2. The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation takes place, injecting new impetus into international development cooperation

If we say that “Belt and Road” is a traditional model of South-South cooperation, many people will disagree. But it is almost impossible not to mention “Belt and Road” when summarizing the New South-South cooperation due to its global influence. From 25th to 27th April, the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing and achieved 283 practical results. Nearly 6000 people from 150 countries and 92 international organizations were present at the meeting. The Entrepreneurs Conference held during the event attracted many businessmen, who signed project cooperation agreements worth a total of more than 64 billion US dollars. The forum injected new impetus into international development cooperation and provided new ideas for global practical cooperation. It has repeatedly reaffirmed that strengthening multilateralism is essential to coping with global challenges, and building an open, inclusive, interconnected, sustainable and people-centered world economy is conducive to achieving the sustainable development goals of the United Nations and building a community with a shared future for mankind. The “Belt and Road” Initiative was proposed and implemented six years ago and has made some progress in policy communication, facilities interconnection, trade liberalization, financing and people-to-people ties. High-quality development is the direction of our joint efforts on the next stage. The forum has increasingly become an important mechanism for all parties concerned to exchange information, build consensus and promote global development, New South-South cooperation and tripartite cooperation.

3. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement comes into force and African Regional Economic Integration reaches new stage

The development of the African continent is an important part of South-South Cooperation. The integration process of the African continent is also an important topic which directly affects the global economic geography and political pattern. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement came into force on 30th May and was officially implemented on 17th July. As a trade agreement proposed by the African Union, it aims to further reduce tariffs, eliminate trade barriers, promote the development of intra-regional trade and investment, realize the free flow of goods, services and funds in the African continent, and thus build a big African market. So far, 52 of the 55 members of the African Union have signed the Agreement. The establishment of AfCFTA means that a market with a population of 1.2 billion and a total economy of 2.5 trillion US dollars will gradually take shape, intra-regional trade barriers will be gradually reduced, trade exchanges will be further strengthened, and the process of African integration will be greatly accelerated, which will have an impact on African trade, employment and its position on the global market. Besides, it will also affect Africa’s global trading partners and bring changes to the global trade pattern.

4. For the first time, the UNDP Human Development Report Office has consulted with the think tanks of southern countries extensively and paid attention to the southern perspective in preparing their report for 2019.

During this forum, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and UNDP’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO) held a joint meeting in New York with members of the South-South Global Thinkers – a Global Coalition of Think Tank Networks for South-South Cooperation. The human Development Report – one of the most influential international development knowledge products in the world, i.e. Human Development Report 2019 consulted with Southern think tanks extensively for the first time. Researchers and actors from think tanks of China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Bangladesh and other southern countries conducted discussions on “inequality”, the theme of the report, and provided the perspective and experience of the southern countries, which means that the knowledge production and achievements of the southern countries are getting more and more attention of the international community. Read more on this topic.

5. Delhi Process V held in India, further deepening the topic of South-South cooperation

India’s leading role in the global agenda for South-South cooperation cannot be underestimated. From 22nd to 23rd August, India’s Delhi Process V Global Conference on South-South and Triangular Cooperation was held in New Delhi, India. 16 plenary meetings and three parallel forums were held to talk about the outcome document of the Second High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40 Conference), which was concluded in Buenos Aires of Argentina in March this year, attracting hundreds of people from 53 countries and 16 international organizations around the world. The forum fully demonstrated the influence of South-South cooperation on the global economy, society and politics in the new era, and reiterated the contributions of South-South cooperation to maintaining the global multilateralism system, promoting world peace and prosperity, and promoting the new industrial revolution. The Delhi Process, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India and organized by the Indian Institute of Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries, has been held for five times so far and has become one of the influential platforms in the field of South- South cooperation on a global scale.

6. The South-South Galaxy launched on the United Nations South-South Cooperation Day to promote global sharing of southern countries’ development experience

For a long time, South-South cooperation lacked a systematic global knowledge dissemination platform, and now this problem will be gradually solved. On 12th September, the United Nations South-South Cooperation Day, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), together with its partners, officially launched a large-scale network platform – The South-South Galaxy. Based on artificial intelligence technology, the platform is designed to provide a unified South-South solution platform and one-stop services for the southern partners of the United Nations system so that the southern partners can more effectively share their development experience, solutions and needs, aiming to promote and build new partnerships. It is reported that through digital means, this platform strives to enhance the ties and strengthen the sharing of knowledge and ideas among the countries, promote partnerships and increase opportunities for entrepreneurship. At present, the UNOSSC, UNDP, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, FAO, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UN Women, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and UNFPA have joined the platform. The platform construction is also supported by the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation.

7. Poverty reduction practice and anti-poverty governance accumulate rich experience for global South-South cooperation

Poverty reduction is the primary goal of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is the core content of South-South cooperation how to summarize national and regional poverty reduction experience and promote global sharing of the experience. On 17th October, 2019 Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum, which was sponsored by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP) and the UN Development System in China and organized by International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), was held in Beijing. The theme of the forum is: Fighting Poverty: Global Experience and China’s Practice. Hu Chunhua, Vice Premier of the State Council of PRC, attended and addressed the opening ceremony. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, sent a congratulatory letter to the forum. Two heads of international organizations, seven ministerial officials of developing countries, more than 20 ambassadors to China and more than 200 representatives of international institutions in China were present at the event. The participants called on the international community to further deepen international development cooperation, improve social policy systems and make greater efforts to promote global poverty reduction.

8. The 24th Annual Meeting of China South-South Cooperation Network takes place

In recent years, the construction of organizations and network platforms for South-South cooperation has been accelerated. No matter at the global, regional or national level, various institutions and mechanisms for the research, practice, personnel training and advocacy of South-South cooperation have been established rapidly. China South-South Cooperation Network was established under the framework of the United Nations in 1995 based on the extensive cooperation between the United Nations Development Programme and China in the early stage, and the Secretariat is located in China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE). China South-South Cooperation Network is designed to strengthen the construction of South-South cooperation network at the national level through expert consultation, information exchange, holding meetings and group reception, and strengthen regional and global cooperation and exchange and corresponding institutional capacity-building through a wider range of contacts so as to promote the institutionalization process of South-South cooperation organizations. From 18 to19 November, the 24th Annual Meeting of China South-South Cooperation Network was held in Fuzhou, China. The theme of this conference is “South-South cooperation promotes knowledge sharing, capacity building and technology transfer”. Nearly 70 representatives from CCIEE, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations World Food Programme, the Center for International Knowledge on Development, and China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (CISSCA) attended the meeting.

9. High-level Meeting on the 10th Anniversary of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation

How the southern countries provide global public goods by supporting international multilateral systems such as the United Nations? The ten-year practice of FAO – China South-South cooperation provides a case. China is one of the first countries to participate in the South-South cooperation under the framework of FAO, and also the first country to establish a strategic alliance with FAO on South-South cooperation. Since 2008, China has donated two trust funds totaling 80 million US dollars to support South-South cooperation in agriculture under the framework of FAO. From 27 to 28 November, the High-level Seminar on FAO – China South-South Cooperation was held in Kampala, Ugand. The theme of the event was “Inspiration, Inclusion and Innovation: Prospects of South-South and Triangular Cooperation”. Hundreds of officials and experts from more than 40 countries and regions attended the meeting to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the FAO-China South-South cooperation programme. They recalled the important achievements in South-South cooperation, shared the practices and successful cases of improving agricultural production and profitability, and called for establishing innovative partnerships and conducting South-South cooperation in more areas. So far, about 40 South-South and triangular cooperation projects have been launched in more than 90 partner countries, and the investment in related projects and activities has exceeded US $370 million.

10. The First Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture (FOCACA) and the first Global Health Forum of Boao Forum for Asia held successfully, and industry cooperation provides new ideas for practical international development cooperation.

In the new century, South-South and triangular cooperation has been gradually deepened, highlighting the importance of industrial cooperation. At present, many innovations have emerged in poverty reduction, agriculture, health, infrastructure construction, education, science and technology, and more cooperation has been carried out in the field of agriculture, health and poverty reduction. On 9thDecember, the First Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture (FOCACA), which was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the People’s Government of Hainan Province, was held in Sanya, Hainan. More than 500 representatives from China, African countries and international organizations attended the event. The forum adopted the “Sanya Declaration on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture” and reached 11 practical cooperation agreements. The First Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture (FOCACA) is an important action to implement the follow-up plan of the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2019, marking the institutionalization of China-Africa cooperation in agriculture. China-Africa cooperation in agriculture has, the meeting pointed out, great potential in ensuring food security, strengthening poverty governance, promoting agricultural science and technology innovation and agricultural modernization and improving the right of discourse of developing countries in global grain and agricultural management, and will have a bright future. In addition, the first Global Health Forum of Boao Forum for Asia was held from 10th to 12thJune, 2019 in Qingdao of Shandong Province. Xi Jinping, President of PRC, sent a congratulatory letter to the meeting, pointing out that promoting the development of global health and health industry is an important part of building a community of shared future for mankind and an important part of implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda. More than 2000 people from Asian countries and international organizations attended the event.