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South-South cooperation offers major opportunities to support vulnerable countries – UN official

South-South cooperation offers major opportunities to support vulnerable countries – UN official
Photo credit: UN News | Maoqi Li

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30 Nov 2017

As the most vulnerable countries continue to face serious development challenges, South-South cooperation offers enormous opportunities and potential to effectively support them in accelerating progress on implementing globally agreed goals, a senior United Nations official has said.

This vital message was delivered to delegations gathered in Antalya, Turkey on 27 November for the opening of the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 by Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

“These are all countries faced with complex and unique development challenges which lend themselves to exploring how and where we can maximize South-South cooperation and leverage global partnerships to support countries’ efforts toward sustainable and inclusive futures,” said Ms. Utoikamanu, who advocates on behalf of 10 billion people in the world’s most vulnerable countries.

She is participating in the 2017 Global Expo along with other senior UN officials, government ministers, national development agency directors, and civil society representatives, who have gathered to share innovative local solutions and push for scaling up concrete initiatives from the global South to achieve the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The central promise of the 2030 Agenda is to ‘leave no-one behind,’ and thus is about addressing poverty, reducing inequality and building a sustainable future of shared prosperity,” explained Ms. Utoikamanu. “But it is already clear that these noble Goals will be elusive if the 91 countries my Office is a voice for remain at the bottom of the development ladder.”

As such, she said, South-South collaboration has led to increasing trade between and with emerging economies, investors, providers of development cooperation and sources of technological innovations and know-how. “This trend is confirmed by trade preferences for [least developed country products], enhanced trade finance opportunities, but also innovative infrastructure finance emerging,” noted Ms. Utoikamanu.

“The complex and pressing challenges the vulnerable countries experience demand that we further strengthen and leverage South-South cooperation,” added Ms. Utoikamanu. “South-South cooperation is not an ‘either-or’ it is a strategic and complementary means of action for the transfer and dissemination of technologies and innovations. It complements North-South cooperation,” she emphasized.

This week’s gathering will focus on a number of issues, including how to transfer science, technology and innovation among developing countries.

With that in mind, Ms. Utoikamanu said that to a large extent, the future will be determined by the abilities to leverage science, technology and innovation for sustainable growth, structural transformation and inclusive human and social development.

“It is proven that innovative technologies developed in the South often respond in more sustainable ways to the contextual needs of developing countries. Last, but not least, this is a question of cost,” she said.

In all this, the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries has a major role to play in boosting science, technology and innovation capacity. “It must facilitate technology transfer and promote the integration of [least developed countries] into the global knowledge-based economy.”

While countries in the South continue to deepen cooperation to achieve the SDGs, the trend of declining official development assistance (ODA) is cause for great concern. ODA remains a crucial source of external financing for the vulnerable groups of countries UN-OHRLLS represents,” she said.

“OHRLLS is committed to working with countries both of the North and the South to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and above all its pledge of leaving no one behind,” concluded Ms. Utoikamanu.


Technology Bank for Worlds Poorest Countries Set to Start Operations in 2018

The Council of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries concluded its inaugural meeting in New York on 21 November 2017. The Council members met to discuss and adopt the programme of work and budget for activities in 2018 .

“The Technology Bank has tremendous potential to tackle one of the great new divides of our times – access to science, technology and capacity to innovate. It will bring on board and coordinate expertise from the entire UN System to support the world’s poorest countries across the whole spectrum of science, innovation and technology.

“The full operationalization of the Technology Bank is the first Sustainable Development Goal target (17.8) to be achieved,” said Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ’Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General, High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and the Secretary-General’s representative on the Council.

“The Technology Bank is a new entity. It fits within the spirit of the Secretary-General’s overall reform efforts to adapt the United Nations to better support the implementation of the SDGs on the ground.”

Council members, meeting in New York, agreed that in 2018 the Technology Bank will focus on preparing a number of STI reviews and technology needs assessments in the world’s poorest countries. The Institution will also work in collaboration with other UN entities on promoting digital access to research and technical knowledge.

Hosted by the Government of Turkey, the Technology Bank will be located in Gebze where the premises of the Bank are currently under construction and are expected to be inaugurated in the spring of 2018.

The Bank is expected to improve the use of scientific and technological solutions in the world’s poorest countries and promote the integration of these nations into the global knowledge-based economy. In 2011, the Istanbul Programme of Action for the least developed countries called for the establishment of a technology bank dedicated to least developed countries.

This long-standing priority was confirmed in the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goal target 17.8. In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 71/251 on Establishment of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.