Excellencies, distinguished delegates,
It is indeed my pleasure to welcome you as well as to give remarks at the Fourth Asia-Pacific Directors-General Forum on South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
South-South and triangular cooperation has always been at the heart of our work. It underpins our research and analysis, intergovernmental and normative work, and technical assistance programmes.
South-South cooperation is a key modality for our member States to address transboundary issues such as how to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, how to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing challenges of climate change, connectivity, how to embed sustainability into connectivity, resiliency as well as issues of common concern, such as poverty and inequalities, environment and also, disaster risk reduction and social development.
The foundation of South-South Cooperation were laid in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. The aim of the Bandung Conference was to build solidarity among the newly decolonized countries of the South and help other colonized countries in Asia and Africa achieve independence.
Over the years, through South-South and triangular cooperation, countries in the region have achieved remarkable economic and technological progress. Many are now at a stage that they can provide technical assistance and development finance and share innovative approaches to help other countries advance sustainable development.
Almost half-way into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — 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 our hard-earned progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
To scale up support to member States in South-South and triangular cooperation in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP, together with the Government of Thailand and United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (UNOSSC) organized the inaugural regional DG Forum in June 2018. I am very pleased to learn that the Directors-General Forum has been held annually since then.
The Forum serves as a platform for member States (1) to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities of South-South cooperation; (2) to strengthen the institutional framework of South-South and triangular cooperation in the region; and (3) to share experiences, good practices and success stories in promoting South-South and triangular cooperation.
At the second DG Forum we discussed the regional position on BAPA+40, which was then presented to the Global DG Forum. At the third DG Forum, which was held virtually, we discussed the outcomes of BAPA+40 and agreed to move towards further strengthening South-South Cooperation in the region through concrete actions. To fully understand these concrete actions, ESCAP, over the last couple of years, administered a regional survey and carried out bilateral and multilateral consultations.
There are three points of guidance that emerge from all these engagements:
First, we need greater access to information on innovations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to further strengthen documentation of good practices, sustainable development policies and approaches.
Next, we need increased exchanges of experience. There is a need to strengthen exchanges among countries that have recently started technical cooperation initiatives so that they can learn from experiences of their peers and explore collaboration among themselves. Here, countries that have a long experience in providing technical cooperation can provide valuable guidance to emerging providers of technical assistance.
Finally, we need improved matching between resources and needs. We need to develop regional mechanisms that strengthen information sharing for recipients of South-South cooperation assistance to match their needs with the resources and expertise of providers.
I know that as part of today’s programme you will be able to consider concrete solutions to these challenges and have a chance to champion and engage in proposed working groups supported by a dedicated tool, the “South-South Cooperation Connector.”
ESCAP and the UN system will continue to play a facilitative role in all these endeavors. I firmly believe that with your support, this DG Forum can grow stronger and establish its place as the go-to-place for development practitioners in the region.
South-South cooperation works, and together we can ensure it benefits member States and our people.
I look forward to your active engagement and your continued cooperation.
Thank you and I wish you fruitful deliberations.