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About South-South Cooperation
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South-South Cooperation (SSC) is an essential cross-cutting mechanism designed to enhance UNEP’s ability to deliver environmental capacity building and technology-support activities in developing countries and regions of the South. The implementation of the SSC initiative is being carried out as part of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building, a UN-approved approach to assisting developing countries. The Bali Strategic Plan serves as an umbrella framework for the “coherent, coordinated and effective delivery of environmental capacity-building and technical support activities” in response to well-defined country priorities and needs.

Historical Background

The increasing relevance and importance of SSC has been stressed at major international events including UN General Assembly sessions and resolutions. In recognition of the shift in perceptions about emerging trends in SSC, UNEP has embarked on a process to actively promote the streamlining of approaches in South-South Cooperation in the implementation of the capacity-building components of its biennial programmes of work. The shift in emphasis stems from the recognition that:

  • the experiences and successes that many countries of the Global South have achieved in environment-related areas can provide valuable impetus, ideas and means for other countries in the South to address similar concerns and challenges;
  • South-South Cooperation can increase the flow of information, resources, expertise and knowledge among developing countries at reduced costs; and
  • technology transfer among developing countries and capacity building in environmentally sound use of technologies and sustainable management of natural resources are key for the development of the South.

In addition, SSC is now widely recognized as a key mechanism for the development agenda of countries of the South. It enjoys broad-based support from both the donor community and developing countries. Specifically:

  • The recognition by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of SSC and triangular cooperation as significant complements to Official Development Assistance is a major breakthrough in global dialogue processes concerning development assistance.
  • The G-8 summit, which met in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July 2005, committed to redouble its efforts to achieve a successful conclusion across the whole of the Doha Development Agenda and acknowledged this agenda as being vital to drive growth and boost incomes across the world.
  • UN summits also acknowledge the achievements and great potential of SSC as an effective contribution to development and call on the international community, including international financial institutions, to support the efforts of developing countries through triangular cooperation, among other approaches.
  • Within the UN system, a number of UN agencies (UNDP, UNCTAD, UNIDO, UNESCO, WHO, FAO, etc.) have strategic and operational mechanisms to promote SSC to address their respective institutional and capacity development mandates.
  • At the regional level, a number of regional groupings and forums (e.g. AMCEN, NEPAD, etc.) have also called for increased efforts to mainstream SSC in the work of key environment and development partners.
  • Several regional SSC initiatives have been established to foster cooperation among developing countries and also provide opportunities and options for coordinated strategic action in advancing SSC approaches.