Triangular Cooperation with the Arab Region: Policies, Perspectives and Practices of DAC Members

October 4, 2023

Complex, intractable, and persistent development challenges worldwide disproportionately affect the lives of millions in the South. It has become increasingly evident that despite political will and national ownership, developing countries can not tackle these challenges independently. Among other factors, they require resources and know-how provided through revamped knowledge-partnerships that transcend boundaries.

The COVID-19 pandemic response demonstrated how countries, through international solidarity and coordinated action, can generate transformative change at a scale and speed previously unimaginable. It also highlighted the necessity for context-specific development approaches and broader partnerships to assist governments and national institutions in finding the best-fitting solutions for their local needs. In this context, triangular cooperation is gaining recognition as an essential modality in the evolving development cooperation architecture, complementing South-South cooperation.

As articulated in the Outcome Document of the second High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in 2019 (BAPA+40), triangular cooperation “provides added value by leveraging and mobilizing additional technical and financial resources, sharing a broader range of experiences, promoting new areas of cooperation, and combining affordable and context-based development solutions under flexible arrangements and agreed shared modalities.” The document also urged Member States to “increase the use” of this modality under the leadership of the beneficiary country. However, due to the diversity of approaches, interpretations, policy frameworks, as well as institutional and part- nership arrangements, the BAPA+40 Outcome Document acknowledged “the need to better understand trian- gular cooperation and provide more evidence and rigorous information on its scale, scope, and impact.”

Against this backdrop, UNOSSC commissioned this study to contribute to ongoing and future policy discussions and partnership arrangements at all levels. Initiated in response to interest expressed by Arab states, the study examines the policies, perspectives, and practices of Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concerning triangular cooperation, followed by a focus on DAC member engagement with the Arab region. Among other findings, the study reveals that although no consensus exists on the definition of triangular cooperation, many Arab states are actively engaged in this form of cooperation with DAC members, with some exclusively serving as pivotal partners. These Arab partners have relevant domestic experience in addressing issues similar to those of beneficiary countries and share their financial resources, knowledge, and expertise.

The study will contribute to strengthening the knowledge base on triangular cooperation and thus take up the BAPA+40 call for more evidence on the modality. Beyond its immediate focus on DAC members and Arab states, the study will also be of interest to regional institutions, UN entities, and other stakeholders seeking to explore and/or leverage this form of cooperation as they continue to address development challenges.