UNOSSC Explores Scaling-up Strategic Partnerships with the Republic of Korea in Science, Technology and Innovation

February 22, 2023

A Member of the Republic of Korea’s National Assembly expresses solidarity with the global South

Seoul: On 3 February 2023, a United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) delegation led by Mr. Denis Nkala, Chief of Intergovernmental and UN Systems Affairs, paid a visit to the Honorable Mr. In-Young Lee, Member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea (RoK).

“In true spirit of SSC, we embrace the solidarity among developing countries,” said the Honorable Mr. Lee, “and are committed to share our development experiences and lend our technical expertise with other countries as well as learn from them for mutual benefits.” He emphasized the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation modalities and reflected on the RoK’s development experiences and the support that the country had received from other Global South countries in the past. He also reflected on the RoK’s bridging role between North and South, that despite becoming a developed country, the RoK shows its affinity to the South, including the New Southern Policy. Mr. Nkala indicated that the New Southern Policy had been a key basis for the current Phase of the RoK and UNOSSC collaboration in the Lower Mekong Basin involving partner countries, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam as well as Mekong Institutions (the Mekong River Commission Secretariat and the Mekong Institute).

UNOSSC delegation listening to Hon. Mr. Lee

Having served in government for more than two decades in various capacities as a four-time elected member of the RoK’s National Assembly, Honourable Mr. Lee has extensive experience in national policymaking, planning and international affairs. Previously, he served as the 41st Minister of Unification in 2020-2022. Currently, he also serves as President of the Korean Parliamentary League on Children, Population and Environment (CPE).

The visit was a response to the invitation from the Honourable Member of the National Assembly, conveyed through the Republic of Korea staff based in the UN Bangkok Offices, for the mission to introduce UNOSSC and its work.

Mr. Nkala briefed Honorable Mr. Lee on the important role that the Republic of Korea plays in bridging South-South cooperation and North-South cooperation due to its recent history as a member of the Global South and subsequently joining the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Mr. Nkala also highlighted the Republic of Korea’s convening of a “Forum on South-South Cooperation in Science and Technology” in 2000 in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNOSSC. The outcome of the Forum, “The Seoul Accord” underlined the critical role of South-South cooperation in science and technology. The follow-up to the Accord subsequently led to concrete collaboration between the organizing parties.

Following this Forum, a project was agreed upon between the UNDP Country Office with the then Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to share the Republic of Korea’s experiences with other developing countries. The project was implemented with the UNDP Country Office in the RoK before the country joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2010 and thus ceased to be a member of the Global South. After the closure of UNDP County Office in Seoul, the RoK-UNOSSC project continued to promote South-South and triangular cooperation through UNOSSC at the request of the Government of the Republic of Korea in 2010. Three phases of the project have been implemented since 2012, the latest phase focuses on enhancing people’s livelihoods in the lower Mekong Basin through an integrated Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach and is funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). “Throughout the later part of the 1990s, the country was recognized by the United Nations High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation as a Pivotal Country, ready to provide technical assistance under the triangular cooperation arrangement,” Mr. Nkala concluded.

UNOSSC Team and Hon. Mr. Lee explore opportunities to showcase RoK’s development experiences with other countries through SSTC

Group photo with Hon. Mr. In-Young Lee

As a member of Science, ICT, Broadcasting, Communications Committee under the National Assembly, Honorable Mr. Lee appreciated this significant collaboration between the RoK and UNOSSC. He offered his support in promoting the visibility of this partnership starting with this news article. He inquired on how the RoK’s technical transfer and capacity building work under the RoK-UNOSSC Facility could be further strengthened to offer greater national ownership, accountability, and sustainability in partner countries. He also noted that the RoK’s science, technology and innovations could be showcased by the international partners for mutual gains between the country and its Global South development partners.

The UNOSSC team, including Ms. Ines Tofalo, Trust Fund and Programme Management Specialist; and Ms. Yejin Kim, Project Manager; thanked Honorable Mr. Lee’s kind consideration and wished to invite him to future high-level policy dialogue events and other relevant occasions highlighting South-South and triangular cooperation.

About the RoK-UNOSSC Facility Phase 3 

The “Triangular Cooperation Project on Sustainable Development in the Lower Mekong River Basin based on the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus” (2021-2025) aims to strengthen access to water, food and energy for vulnerable communities living in the Lower Mekong Basin (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam) through strengthening development approaches and management in these sectors. It will take integrative and multi-sectoral approaches in application of highly demanded technologies on water, energy and food to improve the livelihoods of the people based on South-South and triangular cooperation modalities. The 5-year project is supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea, and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) leads the project in partnership with other institutions including the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS), Mekong Institute (MI) and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) and will enlist the help of other UN Agencies.