Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to address the opening of this year’s Global Directors-General Forum on South-South Cooperation, co-hosted by Royal Thai Government, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and ESCAP, and sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
Over the past two days, I have been impressed with the multitude of successful examples of development cooperation and encouraged by further possibilities of South-South and triangular cooperation to bring us back on track for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Following these exchanges, the Forum promises to be rich with action-oriented proposals and recommendations to put South-South and triangular cooperation front and center in dealing with today’s multifold crises.
Indeed, almost halfway into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing impacts of climate change and geopolitical conflicts have unveiled the fragility of our interconnected world.
All these crises threaten the hard-earned progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Development challenges that our countries face, particularly inequality and environmental sustainability, require transformational policy measures at the country, regional and global levels. They are too large and too complex to be addressed by one country alone.
The emergence of middle-income developing countries willing to share their knowledge, expertise and resources through their own assistance programmes offers new opportunities for partnerships and points to the changing dynamics in development cooperation.
South-South cooperation is and must remain an integral part of global multilateralism, complementing but not replacing North-South development assistance. It has a natural role in supporting transboundary objectives, such as enhancing connectivity, trade and our collective response to climate change.
But South-South cooperation can also help build in-country capacities to address issues such as domestic resource mobilization, improving civil registration and vital statistics and building resilience to climate change.
At ESCAP, South-South and triangular cooperation has always been at the heart of our work. We value the expertise and knowledge that developing countries have built and facilitate efforts to share this with other developing countries.
In recent years, we have also facilitated South-South cooperation between our member States and countries outside the region to promote business innovation for the SDGs. Our work on South-South and triangular cooperation has strengthened information sharing and early warning systems to guard against natural disasters.
It has built resilience and reduced typhoon-related deaths. Initiatives have helped improve and integrate transport infrastructure - including the Asian Highway, the Trans-Asian Railway and our efforts to develop dry ports. And ESCAP’s capacity development programmes have promoted South-South exchanges of agricultural mechanization and machinery, technology transfer, regional trade and investment research, ICT for development and data and statistics.
The mix of international development cooperation players in Asia and the Pacific is a major asset.
From large emerging economies like China and India to high-income assistance providers like Japan and Australia, to middle-income countries that have started to provide financial and technical assistance, there is enormous potential for stronger South-South cooperation -- cooperation that could be particularly beneficial to countries with special needs.
To ensure all future South-South cooperation is demand-driven, innovative and effective, the dialogue you are about to have is essential. Our region convened the Fourth Asia-Pacific Directors-General Forum yesterday, the outcomes of which will be shared with you shortly.
At this Global DG Forum, we look forward to engaging beyond our region and learning from the experiences of other countries as well.
I wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful Global DG Forum.