Rome, 19 December 2011 – While the financial crisis still casts a shadow over many countries, the benefits of South-South cooperation are setting the stage for sustainable development. Commenting on the occasion of the United Nations International Day for South-South Cooperation, Thomas Elhaut, Director for Statistics and Studies for Development, Strategy and Knowledge Management at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said: “Development agencies and policymakers must seek ways to extend and sustain rapid expansion of South-South trade and investment flows in pursuit of lasting development gains. Creating policy space for government action and regional policy co-ordination is crucial.”
“In an era of competitive rivalry for scarce resources, both emerging economic powers and those lagging behind must turn into co-operative ventures with larger payoffs for both groups,” said Elhaut. He pointed to the success of both China and India in reducing poverty where domestic factors play a crucial role while market integration creates new opportunities for growth.
Until recently, South-South cooperation consisted primarily of sharing technical developments, ranging from improving livestock breeds and health, to food processing technologies to more efficient water use. Today, in addition to exchanges at the technical level, it involves dialogue on regional policy coordination and other government actions that are crucial to achievement of global development goals.
Being both donors and recipients of aid, middle-income countries have a unique perspective on the development process. Their increasing importance has been recognized by the recent High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, where government leaders identified South-South cooperation as vital in the international development architecture.
Food insecurity is especially severe in the southern hemisphere, affecting around 95 per cent of the women and men living in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural technologies and knowledge that have helped middle-income countries like China, Brazil and India to boost their development can be valuable for smallholder farmers in other countries with similar challenges.
“South-South cooperation goes to the heart of strengthening IFAD’s collaboration with the most important partner of all, the poor rural people themselves,” said Elhaut. “As we commemorate this year’s International Day for South-South Cooperation, IFAD is working to scale up our strategic support for collaboration among developing countries.”
Notes to the Editor
South-South cooperation is an important focus of IFAD’s work. One example are the ‘learning routes’ which IFAD has supported since 2006. A ‘learning route’ brings community leaders, policymakers and development professionals to rural development projects. They spend several days with their hosts exchanging their knowledge about successful initiatives and policies. Recently a ‘learning route’ brought 11 practitioners from Hanoi to Lima. They took home a new tool: A competition in which entrepreneurs seeking technical assistance have to win it by submitting a business plan and a budget, which are judged by other entrepreneurs in the community. This makes the community groups the real owners of their business plans and encourages many people to participate.
Other IFAD supported South-South exchanges include the ‘Brazil-Africa Agricultural Innovation Marketplace’ which enhances knowledge and technology exchange to promote rural development and poverty reduction as well as the ‘Action Research Sites’. They work with rural community groups throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America, to field test and build capacity in new technology and processing techniques.
Press release No.: IFAD/90/2011
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested about US$13.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 405 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nation’s food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 167 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).