Promoting and supporting collaboration among countries of the South
The effective implementation of the 2030 Global Agenda will require innovation, new partnerships, knowledge-sharing and scaling up of proven approaches.
One way to do this is through South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) – a broad framework for promoting and supporting collaboration among countries of the South. Through SSTC, countries can share knowledge, technology, policies and other resources.
SSTC has enormous potential for agriculture and rural development in developing countries. It can unlock diverse experiences and provide solutions to pressing development challenges.
In the past, SSTC primarily entailed sharing technical expertise, knowledge and skills about issues such as livestock, health, food processing and efficient water use. Today, technical cooperation also includes dialogue on regional policy coordination and other government actions that are crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Increasingly, SSTC also involves the sharing of financial resources among Southern countries. The volume of South-South aid flows, trade, and flows of foreign direct investment has increased, and there are movements towards regional integration.
IFAD promotes SSTC as a key mechanism for delivering relevant, targeted and cost-effective development solutions and other resources to beneficiaries and partners across the globe. The Fund’s commitment to SSTC is noted in its 2016-2025 Strategic Framework.
The 2016 paper IFAD’s Approach to South-South and Triangular Cooperation highlights IFAD’s comparative advantage for supporting two types of SSTC activities: technical cooperation and investment promotion.
Technical cooperation includes activities that identify, promote or otherwise make available solutions (technologies, approaches, methodologies and know-how) that improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and poor rural people. Investment promotion involves activities that leverage IFAD’s role as a broker and facilitate financial, trade and business linkages between Southern actors for rural development.
In both domains, IFAD is engaged in SSTC at various levels:
- integrating SSTC into country programmes (project design and implementation)
- incorporating SSTC into regional initiatives (both intra- and interregional)
- piloting and scaling-up innovative SSTC approaches through grant-funded programmes
- partnership-building and resource mobilization
- policy support, strategy and knowledge management.
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South-South and triangular cooperation has an enormous potential role in agriculture and rural development in developing countries, both in unlocking diverse experiences and lessons and in providing solutions to pressing development challenges.
From the cases that follow, a number of common lessons emerge. First, it is important to create a space for interaction and cross-country learning. In the Scaling up Micro-Irrigation Systems project or with the household mentoring approach, for instance, workshops and ‘writeshops’ gathered people from diverse countries who could then share their own knowledge and experiences. In such spaces, participants could compare how a similar approach or technology required certain adaptations to better fit with local cultural, social and environmental contexts, offering important lessons for future scaling up.
Sometimes individual champions can make a difference. In Madagascar, the project design for a public/private partnership improved drastically when an IFAD consultant with similar experience in another country became involved. In this case, it was also an ‘unexpected outcome’, as the innovation came from a replacement for the regular consultant, who had broken his foot …. So even through small staff changes, knowledge of a complementary innovation from another country can have a big impact.