Countries in the global South offer countless development solutions, delivered in the forms of knowledge, good practices, innovative policies, technologies and resources.
How can we facilitate the effective transfer and upscaling of these new practices from one country to another?
This is where South-South and Triangular Cooperation, also known as SSTC, comes in. It has an important role to play in upscaling these best practices and new technologies, by promoting and facilitating the sharing of effective approaches for more sustainable and inclusive agrifood systems.
SSTC projects and programmes support strengthening the capacity of the member states in raising the profile of food security and nutrition on national and regional agendas, especially through facilitating policy dialogues, peer-to peer learning, exchange of knowledge transfer of technologies, upscaling and replicating best practices.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has been spearheading cooperation among countries of the global South for more than 40 years, working through its extensive country-level presence.
SSTC is at the heart of FAO’s operations.
By virtue of this cooperation, women-owned businesses thrive, as in the case of LoydaTwinomujuni, providing local employment and food security. The FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) Programme has made it possible for Loyda to increase her milk production, run a farm where she rears cattle and pigs, and improve her livelihood overall.
Since 2020, FAO has also joined forces with South Korea and is implementing an SSTC project to enhance rice value chains in Ivory Coast, Tanzania and the Philippines.
The South-South and South-North sharing of knowledge, ideas and strategies for addressing development issues also remains a valuable reservoir for potential change, and an incentive to sustainable development.
We are also witnessing a strong willingness of beneficiary countries to financially engage in SSTC, which is a testimony of the SSTC concrete results achieved to date at field level and that SSTC is becoming the most effective delivery mechanism for transformation of the agrifood system.
One of the most recent financial contributions received has been from the Ugandan government for the sum of $9.62 million through a Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF), in addition to $2.38 million already contributed by China to Phase III of the project.
Undoubtedly, constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the necessity for flexible and diverse knowledge exchange modalities. Nonetheless, the rapid adoption of virtual training methods has enabled most of the planned SSTC trainings and projects to go ahead despite the limitations of the last few years.
The agrifood sector also remains a key source of food, income and employment, and reactivation and transformation of the agrifood systems is critical to ensure food and livelihood security and a sustainable recovery from the crisis in the Global South.
For this reason, FAO recognises the importance of engaging with the private sector and other non-state actors to promote the spread and uptake of new technologies and innovations in the global south and to strengthen market-related measures, including policies, to support these efforts.
A good example can be found in the collaboration between FAO and the Ningxia Yanbao Charity Foundation to foster the development of agriculture talents.
Today we celebrate the UN Day for South-South Cooperation, which is an important reminder that SSTC is also an essential mechanism to advance the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Countries in the global South are still facing a range of challenges in achieving the SDGs, including “SDG1 No poverty” and “SDG2 Zero hunger”; however, these countries are also reservoirs of home-grown development solutions in the areas of agriculture and food security that could be further replicated and scaled up through South-South and triangular cooperation.
A good example of how SSTC is bringing tangible changes and results, and advancing the realisation of the SDGs and improving agrifood systems in Mongolia can be found in a new report by FAO on the FAO-China SSC Project in Mongolia (Phases I and II), the first national project implemented in Asia under the FAO-China SSC Programme.
The support rendered through the South-South Cooperation Project between 2010 and 2016 has had an enduring impact on lives and livelihoods in Mongolia. The numerous benefits gained by the project stakeholders represent the building blocks of stronger agrifood systems in the country, and of a more sustainable future based on better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life – leaving no one behind.
I strongly believe that we are experiencing a renewed South-South and Triangular cooperation momentum, which foresees brighter and stronger cooperation between countries of the global south and potential new partners. Indeed, this month in the Thai capital Bangkok, FAO and other agencies and international development partners will participate in a major Global South-South Development EXPO with the theme “Towards a smart and resilient future”.
We must, therefore, seize these moments and join forces with other development partners to further mainstream SSTC for the greater good of humanity and to build sustainable, inclusive, and healthy agrifood systems.
Anping Ye is director of the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The views expressed are his own.