Leading the way - new conference promotes rural solutions through SSTC

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Leading the way - new conference promotes rural solutions through SSTC

On 20-21 November 2017, high-level government representatives, development professionals, representatives of the private sector, members of international civil society and academia will meet in Brasilia at the first IFAD-organized conference to promote rural innovations and solutions through South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) for improved livelihoods in developing countries.

In a recent interview, Ashwani K. Muthoo, Director of Global Engagement, Knowledge and Strategy at IFAD, explains why SSTC is so important to inclusive and sustainable rural transformation and how conference outcomes could encourage partners to step-up their efforts.

What is South-South and Triangular Cooperation?

South-South and Triangular Cooperation, or SSTC, is an instrument that developing countries use to help each other to achieve sustainable economic and social transformation of their people. SSTC can take several forms. It includes cooperation between developing countries in the area of sharing knowledge and technology; provision of technical assistance; and promotion of  business-to-business links across developing countries.

Why is South-South and Triangular Cooperation so important in development?

Increasingly, SSTC is being seen by the international community as a key development modality for furthering the objectives of Agenda 2030 and reaching the SDGs. Having said that, I think another important dimension is that - complementing the more traditional north south modality for development cooperation - SSTC allows developing countries to take more leadership, responsibility and ownership in their own development to improve the livelihoods and food security of their people.

Why are rural youth an important target group for SSTC?

First of all, because the youth are the future of the planet. The second important dimension is that the youth represent a significant proportion of the populations of developing countries. If you take Africa on its own, 70 per cent of Africa's entire population is below the age of 30. So we have to make targeted efforts to promote youth employment. But there is also a link to migration. If we promote youth employment, we can also be implicitly addressing the issue of migration. Having said that, how can SSTC help promote youth employment? First of all by making available technologies, experiences, knowledge and resources to youth in developing countries that otherwise they may not have had access to.

How is IFAD engaging in supporting SSTC and what will it do in the future?

The most significant contribution IFAD is currently making in promoting SSTC is by making its global experience and lessons of 40 years in investing in smallholder agriculture and rural development available to developing countries using a variety of instruments. It is also facilitating exchange of skills and technologies among developing countries. However, moving forward, what we want to do much more is contribute to investment promotion, which is to facilitate the linkages between private entrepreneurs and businesses, as well as to facilitate  investment flows between developing countries. For instance, IFAD could try to help mobilize resources from one developing country to co-finance a project that IFAD itself is funding in another developing country. I don’t think we are there yet, but that is what we have in mind.

What is this up-coming SSTC conference all about and why is it important?

The conference is about sharing rural development solutions that can be scaled up among developing countries. Many of these solutions will have a particular focus on rural women and youth. This is IFAD's first global conference on South-South and Triangular Cooperation. It’s important because it focuses exclusively on South-South Cooperation in the agriculture and rural sector. There are other SSTC expos and conferences but they’re not devoted exclusively to agriculture.

Moreover, the conference is organized as part of a process leading up to the BAPA +40 -  which stands for Buenos Aires Plan of Action - the commemoration of 40 years from when the U.N. adopted a declaration in 1978 to promote technical cooperation amongst developing countries. So this conference is a step in that process, rather than a conference on its own.

Although we are taking the lead in organizing the conference, it is done in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization,  the International Land Coalition, the Government of Brazil as our host, and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation.

What are the expected outcomes of the conference?

We want to have a conference on SSTC that results in an outcome declaration, with concrete actions to be undertaken by IFAD and others as a follow-up.

Another outcome this conference aims to fulfil is to provide a space for people in agriculture to learn from each other, network and identify opportunities for partnerships. In this regard, one of the most exciting opportunities is for low-income countries to learn from low and upper-middle income countries that were previously low income countries. Who best could low income countries learn from than the current LMICs or UMICs who have actually done it themselves and improved their GDP per capita and reduced rural poverty?

A marketplace at the conference with an exhibition space will allow participants to share concrete and successful rural development solutions. There is a lot of interest in the conference's marketplace including from the private sector, government, farmers’ organizations, civil society organizations and others.

See also: South-South and Triangular Cooperation