From climate change to worsening inequalities and COVID-19 fallouts, top UN officials told a major forum in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday that greater cooperation among developing countries, known as the global South, was needed to overcome a multitude of challenges.

At the opening of the Global South-South Development Expo 2022, Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged through a video message, collaboration among countries and communities to build a sustainable future for all.

“It is important that Southern-led development solutions are shared far and wide,” he said, underlining the need for cooperation among developing countries as well as with developed nations in addressing shared challenges.

Mr. Guterres reminded wealthier nations of their responsibilities to “work constructively with the developing world, especially to reduce growing inequalities between and within nations”.

In commemorating the UN Day for South-South Cooperation, he advocated for redoubled cooperation “to achieve an equitable and sustainable future for all”, he said.

‘Trust in one another’

Citing COVID-19, the climate crisis, longstanding and new conflicts, economic inequalities and rising inflation that “are jeopardizing many of the development gains we have struggled for decades to achieve,” General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid acknowledged that “the world is at a critical time”.

Recalling his tenure as the Presidency of Hope, he called for deeper South-South and triangular cooperation to accelerate global economic recovery.

“Going forward, let us put our trust in one another, and…vindicate trust through mutual aid and cooperation. With that solidarity and collective willpower, we can recover better, expand our horizons and achieve our vision for a brighter future,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, highlighted how “South-South and triangular cooperation continue to power solutions to some of the world’s most persistent development challenges.

“At UNDP, South-South and triangular cooperation are embedded in our development support across the globe”, he said in a video message.

‘Hard-won’ development gains at stake

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), pointed to “remarkable” socio-economic progress in Asia and the Pacific, which is leading global value chains, innovation and global investments.

“However, these hard-won gains are at stake,” she warned. “Almost half-way into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening impacts of climate change, growing inequalities, and rising geopolitical tensions have laid bare the fragility of our interconnected world”.

She urged building upon the foundation of South-South and triangular cooperation “as an integral part of international development cooperation”.

Expo 2022 theme

The eleventh edition of the global Expo 2022 forum is co-organized by ESCAP and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and aimed at -sustainable pandemic recovery.

The event, which runs from 12-14 September, is one of the largest at the UN Conference Centre (UNCC) in Bangkok since the COVID-19 outbreak.

It features plenary discussions; a global and Asia-Pacific Directors-General Forum; booths showcasing innovations and best practices on South-South and triangular cooperation; and a virtual exhibition.

Also on the agenda are forums and associated events, including a discussion on peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a national home-grown school meals programme, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Examining the framework

South-South cooperation encompasses collaboration in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains – with two or more developing countries leveraging knowledge, expertise and resources to meet their development goals.

Recent developments in South-South cooperation have taken the form of increased trade, foreign direct investment, technology transfers, and movements towards regional integration, among others.

Triangular cooperation is collaboration in which traditional donor countries and multilateral organizations facilitate South-South initiatives by providing funds, training, technological systems and other forms of support.

FAO’s South-South Cooperation promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing between Chinese experts and Ugandan farmers.

FAO/Alessandro Stelzer

FAO’s South-South Cooperation promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing between Chinese experts and Ugandan farmers.