Spearheading South-South and Triangular Cooperation with partners in Asia

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Spearheading South-South and Triangular Cooperation with partners in Asia

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©IFAD/Francesco Cabras

The SDG 17 commitment - Partnerships for the goals - calls for strengthened international cooperation and partnerships for sustainable development including poverty reduction. Cooperation among the global south, i.e., South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC), is an integral part of international cooperation, and complements the traditional North-South Cooperation in development assistance. SSTC enables developing countries to share knowledge, practical experience, development solutions, innovations and investment opportunities with each other. Over recent years, IFAD has been working with like-minded institutions in Asia and the Pacific to spearhead SSTC within and beyond the region. Some interesting cases have emerged to demonstrate the merits and contributions of SSTC to sustainable development through sharing experience and solutions.

Mainstreaming in operations

All new country strategies have SSTC incorporated in them and all have identified specific focus areas for action, ranging from knowledge exchange and capacity building to policy engagement and investment promotion. For instance in India, which has a strong SSTC agenda, IFAD is committed to help: (i) share knowledge between India and other developing countries around agriculture and rural development technologies, policies and processes; (ii) foster collaborative research between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and its network of centres in Asia and Africa; and (iii) support business-to-business collaboration between Indian enterprises and start-ups/SMEs in other developing countries.

Facilitating inter-regional SSTC

Many Asian institutions are keen to share development solutions for sustainable poverty reduction, and IFAD is increasingly acting as a “broker” to make this happen. This is exemplified by a recent collaboration between IFAD and BRAC (a large international NGO based in Bangladesh, famous for pioneering graduation approaches) to support programmes in Africa that can empower rural women to build livelihoods resilient to climate shocks. As reported in a recent Reliefweb news release, this IFAD–BRAC collaboration is already demonstrating impressive results in Kenya, where IFAD and BRAC have partnered with the Government of Kenya and two local organizations to create a special programme on financial graduation. Beginning in 2021, this model is being replicated to Tunisia through a new partnership with the Government of Tunisia.

Promoting knowledge exchange and learning among the Global South

IFAD has adopted three main approaches to promote knowledge exchange among IFAD’s development member countries in Asia. The first is multi-country knowledge or solutions sharing events and platforms. In Vietnam, a project funded by a dedicated China-IFAD SSTC Facility, is under implementation to scale up climate resilient value chain initiatives. Fostering cooperation between Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam, the project has facilitated the identification and development of climate resilient value chain initiatives among farmers' groups, processing units and enterprises. Best practices have been identified, and are now being shared in the region.

The second approach is inter-country learnings for greater poverty reduction impact. Inter-country learning between developing countries is a sound approach to enhance the development impact on rural poverty reduction. In Pakistan, for example, IFAD convened development practitioners, academics and government officials from Pakistan and China, to share best practices in climate-resilient agriculture. This has generated concrete recommendations in the areas of technical cooperation and exchanges, technical demonstration and piloting, industry building and policy support.

The third approach is exchange visits and capacity strengthening at project level. IFAD has facilitated numerous exchange visits by project staff, to enable them to gain first-hand experience and practical knowledge on pro-poor inclusive microfinance, community development, value chain development, and e-commerce. One such example comes from a project in Bangladesh. The Promote Resilience of Vulnerable Through Access to Infrastructure, Improved Skills and Information project (PROVATi) has enabled staff exposure visits to Vietnam and Cambodia to support learning on climate smart infrastructure construction, and on how to build climate resilient communities.

Building new SSTC partnerships

IFAD has also stepped up efforts to reach out to a broader range of SSTC stakeholders beyond government institutions. This includes partnerships with international NGOs active in the region, for example AgriTerra, a Dutch NGO, working with IFAD to build capacity of rice farmers in Indonesia with support from Chinese and Filipino institutions.

Partnerships with private sector entities are also being explored. For example, IFAD has facilitated exchanges between Bangladeshi institutions and the Ant Group in China, leading to the design of a local ICT-enabled digital multi-purpose platform for marketing of goods and services. IFAD has also started discussions with the Foreign Economic Cooperation Centre (FECC) in China, as the first step to initiate a process of promoting collaboration across Asia and the Pacific.

IFAD’s SSTC programme across Asia Pacific is growing quickly in scale and in importance. Inspired by the growing interest of regional partners, IFAD will continue to broaden the SSTC partnership base by reaching out to new actors, and by proactively acting as a “broker” in fostering inter-regional SSTC.