Forging a Path Beyond Borders: The Global South

August 16, 2021

The “rise of the South”, as some have called it, has prompted much speculation about the “decoupling” of growth in developing countries from that of advanced economies. This phenomenon has likewise led to much enthusiasm about new approaches to global governance. Yet, for as much as the so-called rise of the South has prompted enthusiasm, that “rise” has also been relatively uneven and incomplete. The idea that developing countries can become engines of the global economy remains on the whole unrealized, and the structural economic barriers that still hold back the world’s least developed countries keep them, in many cases, dependent on commodities and vulnerable to external shocks.

So, what does the future of cooperation among economies of the global South hold for developing countries? The report prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Forging a Path Beyond Borders: The Global South, analyses the rising global South – past and present – with an eye to reinvigorating this important and unique source of development cooperation.

The report analyses the main challenges and opportunities in South-South trade, investment and finance and emphasizes growing opportunities for South–South cooperation on technology transfers and partnerships for technological innovation, as well as the suitable policies needed, to kick off innovative partnerships in key emerging areas such as “Industry 4.0”.

This report was informed by an earlier draft version, presented at an informal thematic consultation, held on 5 November 2018 and organized by UNCTAD in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Argentine Republic to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. The outcome of the consultation and a set of non-binding recommendations are included in this final report.

In the lead-up to the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation – the BAPA+40 Conference – to be held in Buenos Aires from 20 to 22 March 2019, it is my pleasure to present this UNCTAD report. I hope that its seven analytical chapters, the outcome of the informal thematic consultation and the nonbinding recommendations are considered by the Member States during the negotiations on a forward-looking outcome document to be adopted at BAPA+40 Conference.

These elements offer a novel angle on underlying issues and practical suggestions for countries of the South to consider when preparing strategies or implementing action plans for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.