On 11 September, New York - One day before the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation of 2019 (South-South Cooperation Day), Deputy Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang was invited to an interview with the UN News, during which she highlighted the Cities Project’s needs assessment activities and pilot project incubation in Kahjura, Nepal as an example of South-South cities cooperation and the extensive cooperation between China and the UNOSSC.
Ms. Wang defined South-South cooperation as a process of learning from each other and considered China an active advocate and practitioner in this exchange and cooperation process.
“The Belt and Road Initiative of China has indeed promoted South-South and triangular cooperation. Many principles and spirits upheld by the BRI are also enshrined in the latter”, says Ms. Wang.
To exemplify the in-depth and extensive cooperation between the UNOSSC and China, she introduced the needs assessment activities and pilot project incubation in Khajura under the umbrella of SSTC among Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities for Sustainable Development Project (Cities Project). Cities Project was initiated in 2017 by the UNOSSC in partnership with the Government of China to promote South-South cooperation at the city level, especially among cities from countries along the route of Belt and Road.
This year, Cities Project received a request for developing sustainable agriculture from Khajura, a Nepalese city. Therefore, together with the China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture of China Agricultural University and the United Nations Development Programme Nepal Country Office, Cities Project completed on-site needs assessment; further, with the help of the World Food Programme China Center of Excellence, Cities Project identified Yuxi, a city from Yunan province of China, which has the good practices and experiences suitable for Khajura and can be recommended to match with Khajura. The four parties will jointly support the implementation of a pilot project in Khajura which features experience exchanges, technology sharing and capacity building between Khajura and Yuxi on addressing disaster and climate change, sustainable irrigation technologies, and agricultural value chain development.
“Through partnership brokering and bringing all partners together, we can better address the challenges and bring back to Chinese cities the knowledge generated in this process", she said.
At the interview, Ms. Wang introduced South-South Galaxy, a global knowledge sharing and partnership brokering platform to be launched officially on the South-South Cooperation, noting that it will not replace any stars but connect them instead. She revisited the historical trajectory of South-South and triangular cooperation, accentuating the incremental enthusiasm observed from various stakeholders and the reaffirmed commitments to promote and invest in South-South and triangular cooperation. At the end, she forecasted the release of an independent report on South-South cooperation on South-South Cooperation.
[Special Report] South-South Galaxy Comes Onstage —— Interview with Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation
September 12 is the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation. South-South cooperation refers to the economic and technological cooperation among developing countries. On this year's South-South Cooperation Day, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, a specialized agency for South-South cooperation of the UN, officially launched a large-scale network platform, the South-South Galaxy, to enable partners from the global South to share their development experiences, solutions and needs, promote and build new partnerships more effectively. On the occasion of the South-South Cooperation Day, we interviewed Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of the UNOSSC, and requested her to introduce the targeted groups, functionalities and objectives of this platform. Here is the UN News report by Li Maoqi.
The concept of "South-South cooperation", i.e. the cooperation among developing countries, came into being long ago, but not until recent years has this cooperation modality attracted more and more attention and become an indispensable and important component of international cooperation for development.
However, despite its increasing momentum, the potential of South-South cooperation has not yet been optimized or fully brought into play. The main obstacle is the imbalance in sharing knowledge and resource among Southern countries. Therefore, it is necessary to formulate a systematic knowledge management and partnership intermediary services for countries of the global South.
Ms. Wang said that by providing new and more effective digital tools, South-South Galaxy could increase the interactions between countries, precipitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas, and promote partnerships and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Ms. Wang: "South-South Galaxy is a digital platform. It aims at addressing the issue that South-South cooperation lacked a systematic way to disseminate knowledge in the process of cooperation in the past. We hope that with such an extensive platform, the developmental demands of developing countries as well as their good practices and solutions can be presented on a “one-stop shop”. South-South Galaxy is equivalent to a LinkedIn, Baidu, or Alibaba for South-South cooperation. On this platform, we can not only share knowledge, but also communicate with partners, better matchmake demands and supplies, promote cooperation, and make it blossom and yield fruits. In my opinion, this platform makes good use of frontline digital technologies and brings unprecedented opportunities to our development cooperation. This platform aptly incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning and other functions, so that we can better, faster and more accurately find partners that can meet our needs and provide better solutions. So, we have full confidence in this platform.
At present, South-South Galaxy is joined by the UNOSSC, United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Health Organization, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, UN-Women, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Population Fund and other institutions. Financial Center for South-South Cooperation supported the building of the platform.
Ms. Wang stated that on South-South Cooperation Day, the UNOSSC would bring together more than 20 United Nations agencies and offices to discuss and design the details of South-South Galaxy. She believes that South-South Galaxy will become a platform for everyone once it starts to operate.
Ms. Wang: "It is named Galaxy because it can connect all the stars. In fact, there have been many platforms. The United Nations system and our partners all have their own platforms. We hope that this Galaxy will not replace any of these stars but connect them instead. All offices and agencies of the United Nations system will work together to improve and perfect this platform."
The history of South-South cooperation dates back to the Bandung Conference in 1955 and the Group of 77 established in 1964. In 1978, the Global Conference on South-South Technical Cooperation was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Conference adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (BAPA), which became an important milestone of South-South cooperation. In 2009, the first high-level United Nations conference on South-South cooperation was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Its outcome document further clarified the basic principles of South-South cooperation. The second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation took place on March 22 this year in Buenos Aires. More than 160 Member States agreed on a political declaration and reaffirmed their commitment to promoting and investing in South-South cooperation. The outcome document of the second conference pointed out that both South-South cooperation and "triangular cooperation", i.e South-South cooperation initiatives promoted traditional donors and multilateral organizations promote, are conducive to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and called for improving the effectiveness of these two types of cooperation.
Ms. Wang said that the development momentum of South-South cooperation in recent years is gratifying.
Ms. Wang: "The Buenos Aires Conference in March this year was a historic landmark in capitalizing the growing momentum of South-South cooperation. We found that more partners are willing to join South-South cooperation. South-South cooperation has gone through different stages in the history. In the early days, South-South cooperation was oftentimes led by governments and its outcomes were usually intergovernmental agreements. Later, economic cooperation broadened the scope of South-South cooperation, therefore many non-governmental members, such as private enterprises, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, started participating actively. The outcome document adopted at the Buenos Aires Conference this year recognized the role of various stakeholders in South-South cooperation, so we sensed that more and more stakeholders have found their own positions. Everyone's enthusiasm is remarkably high. Second, South-South cooperation in the traditional sense is about knowledge sharing and technology transfer. In recent years, due to the rapid development of economic cooperation, especially the increasing investment and trade among developing countries, the way we engage in South-South cooperation has been diversified. Nowadays, South-South cooperation also includes the facilitation of trade and the improvement of investment policies and environment. Therefore, the Buenos Aires Conference highlighted the diversification and expansion of South-South cooperation and recognized the important role played by South-South investment and South-South trade facilitation in South-South cooperation. Another point I would like to raise your attention to is that the Buenos Aires Conference accentuated the importance of triangular cooperation, that is, cooperation between developing countries supported and participated by developed countries or international organizations. South-South cooperation is to build bridges. Therefore, the more partners participate, the better. We can learn from different partners their respective advantages. Not until all countries apply their own strengths can sustainable development be truly realized without leaving anyone behind. "
Ms. Wang said that South-South cooperation is a process of learning from each other. Advocating ideas and strengthening interaction/cooperation are key words of better achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. She said that China is an active advocate and practitioner in this exchange and cooperation process.
Ms. Wang: "The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China has indeed promoted cooperation among developing countries as well as developed countries. Many principles and spirits upheld by the BRI are also enshrined in South-South cooperation. The cooperation between our office and China is very deep and extensive. There will be a climate change summit this year. In this regard, we have launched several projects to promote South-South cooperation at the city level, especially in cities from countries along the Belt and Road. We have helped cities in understanding and communicating their developmental demands, matching with other cities who have excellent practices, brokering partnerships, and matching with the needed resources. This is directly supported by the Chinese government, especially the Ministry of Commerce. For example, we have recently received a request for developing sustainable agricultural from a Khajura, a Nepalese city. My office, together with the China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture of China Agricultural University and the World Food Programme China Center of Excellence, recommends WFP's project experience in Yuxi, a city from Yunan province of China, and jointly supports the experience exchanges, technology sharing and capacity building between Khajura and Yuxi on addressing disasters and climate change, sustainable irrigation technologies, and agricultural value chain development. Through partnership brokering and bringing all partners together, we can better solve the problems and bring back to Chinese cities the knowledge generated in the process of addressing these challenges. "
Ms. Wang said that on the South-South Cooperation Day on September 12, the UNOSSC will also formally release an independent report on South-South cooperation. The UNOSSC hopes that think tanks in the South and those in developed countries will work together closely to sort out an excellent and proven knowledge system explored over the years in South-South and triangular cooperation then share it with everyone.
Li Maoqi, UN Headquarters in New York