UN Day for South-South Cooperation promotes growth and equity within the developing world

11 September 2013 – Each year on 12 September, the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation highlights the vast potential of cooperative development efforts carried out by low- and middle-income nations in the global South. Combined with support from traditional donor countries and multilateral agencies, such cooperation offers viable opportunities for economic growth, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Student in a school in rural Houjia Township, China. ©IFAD/Qilai Shen

"South-South cooperation has the potential to balance growth and equity on a global scale," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message marking the day last year. "Even in the midst of severe economic, social and political instabilities, South-South cooperation has continued to drive buoyant trade and financial flows."

Over the years, IFAD has actively promoted South-South cooperation through its investments and knowledge exchange efforts. One notable example of the latter – a methodology known as ‘learning routes‘ – allows people working on IFAD-supported programmes and projects in different developing countries to learn from each other's best practices and innovations. Learning routes started as a regional training initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean but have since expanded in scope, now covering East and Southern Africa, as well as Asia and the Pacific.

Showcasing success


IFAD also promotes South-South cooperation by participating in international events such as the annual Global South-South Development Expo. For the first time since its inception, this year's Expo will be held in the South – specifically, at the UN Environment Programme's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya – from 28 October to 1 November. It will showcase innovative, replicable and scalable South-South development solutions that can have a meaningful impact on the ground.

Leading up to the Nairobi event, IFAD has been engaged in a series of preparations for its involvement, which will include:

  • Co-leading, with the Food and Agriculture Organization, a session at the Expo's Solution Exchange Forum to highlight successful interventions in agricultural development and food security
  • Leading a Partnership Forum on South-South cooperation as a tool for scaling up poverty-reduction efforts
  • Participating in a Forum on Arab States in anticipation of the Regional South-South Cooperation Expo to be held in Qatar in 2014, at which IFAD will lead a forum on agriculture, water and food security.
  • Joining a Partnership Forum on Small Island Developing States.

A role model for development

Meanwhile, two recent missions led by IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze highlighted the important role of South-South cooperation in IFAD's ongoing operations. During the visits last month, Nwanze explored broader development partnerships with the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. Both nations are recognized as leaders in South-South cooperation, in terms of both development assistance and knowledge sharing.

On the China mission, Nwanze stressed South-South cooperation as one of the top priorities for enhanced partnership between the government and IFAD. "China can be a role model for other developing countries in how to stimulate economic growth through rural development," he said prior to leaving for Beijing.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze greets villagers in Jouli, Hunan Province, China. © IFAD/David Paqui

While in the country, Nwanze delivered a keynote address on 22 August at the fifth South-South Workshop on Rural Development and Poverty Reduction, co-hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Finance and IFAD, and organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China. Senior policy experts and opinion leaders from Africa, Asia and Latin America were on hand for the workshop.

"IFAD believes that creating economic opportunities for poor rural people to improve their businesses is an integral element of South-South cooperation, and one that can make a lasting impact on poverty eradication," Nwanze said in his address.

Long-term solutions

In the Republic of Korea, the IFAD President conferred with senior government officials about extending the impact of knowledge sharing and information technologies in the rural regions of developing countries across Asia – and beyond. As Asia's fourth-largest economy, this is one of the few nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that was able to increase aid to Africa last year.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze (centre) with development partners in the Republic of Korea. © IFAD

"In order to create a world free of hunger and poverty, we need to be bold and operate on the cutting edge of innovation," Nwanze said prior to his departure for the country. "The Republic of Korea, after the ravages of war, transformed itself from a recipient of assistance to a significant donor, which shows their extraordinary commitment to development that has been underpinned by invention and innovation."

Nwanze continued: "There's no country that understands better than the Republic of Korea that an investment in rural areas is an investment in national economic vitality, social equality and enhanced environmental stability for future generations. Their experience and knowledge will be crucial as we look towards a post-2015 world, one that will require sustainable, long-term solutions to hunger and poverty."