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Video: An Introduction to South-South Cooperation
South-South Cooperation: An Introduction
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Regional Services

Working from the UNDP Regional Service Centres in the Asia and the Pacific region and in Africa, three Regional South-South Units support South-South cooperation by pooling resources and offering advisory, programme, knowledge and operational services. These service centres support the various countries in each region as part of an effort to shift UNDP towards a more decentralized and networked service model.


The Regional South-South Unit in Africa has evolved since its inception. Its role in the beginning was to mainstream SSC into the work of the UNDP Regional Service Centre and the Regional Programmes as well as to advocate for SSC in Africa. This phase was completed successfully: SSC is fully integrated into the work of the Regional Service Centre and the SSC dimension has been incorporated into the implementation of all Regional Programmes. Joint missions have been carried out with joint/common products delivered to country offices, programme countries or partners, e.g., the Aid for Trade programme for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In the area of advocacy, the Regional South-South Unit has consistently participated in various national and regional television and radio programmes focusing on SSC over the past five years.

The second phase of the work of the Unit was to support country offices, programme countries and regional institutions in matters relating to SSC. To date, more than 25 countries have benefited from such support, mainly in the form of technical and policy advice. Examples of recent interventions include the following: South Africa (trilateral arrangements); Algeria (experience in relations between parliament and civil society); and Rwanda and Burundi (access to African South-South funding).

Phase three of the work of the Regional South-South Unit is more encompassing. While the Unit continues to provide policy and technical support, it has also embarked on more knowledge-based and strategic interventions. It has contributed to the work of the African Union on "Strategic Partnership between Africa and Emerging Powers". It is building the Pan African Parliament capacity in SSC. It supports African countries in their contribution to the aid/development effectiveness process and works with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) in shaping the policy framework for SSC. It has just begun to support the Millennium Development Goals acceleration framework (MAF) and has recently worked with the Economic Commission for Africa on the implications of SSC for the development of Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Arab States, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

UNOSSC’s Regional Division for Arab States, Europe and the CIS supports building up the South-South and triangular cooperation facilities in the Arab States, as well as in Europe and the CIS. This work is implemented in line with the UNOSSC’s South-South Cooperation Framework, the policy decisions of the United Nations General Assembly High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation and the Nairobi Outcome Document of the UN General Assembly.

In providing its catalytic services at the regional level, the work of the UNOSSC Division for Arab States, Europe and the CIS is informed by the UNOSSC Regional Strategic Approach towards Advancing South-South, East-East, and Triangular Cooperation for Development in the Arab States, Europe and the CIS that comprises three elements:
A. Support to National-level Coordination Mechanisms on South-South and Triangular Cooperation

Experience shows that countries with the existing policy, coordination mechanism, and resources - including packaged knowledge and expertise, clearly identified needs, and some funding to support exchange in those with other countries - have proven more successful in South-South cooperation than countries reverting to South-South cooperation on an ad hoc basis.
B. Facilitation of SSC Online Portal for real time access to South-South-related information

While national-level coordination is critical to ensuring scaled up South-South cooperation within and beyond the regions, the approach should provide for seamless and non-bureaucratic horizontal linkages, local leadership and ownership, as well as it should be inclusive and systematic in a sense that support activities should benefit as many of existing and potential South-South exchanges involving various government, civil society, and private sector players as possible.
C. Mobilizing Funding Partners for scaled up exchange in South-South solutions, technologies and expertise

Building on existing institutional arrangements, capacities developed and other resources available (avoiding duplication of arrangements, capacities and resource facilities) while implementing the recommended approach can help to seriously reduce the set up costs, and in itself serve as a driver towards a more harmonized and inclusive approach.

Asia and the Pacific

The Regional South-South Unit in the Asia-Pacific Centre supports South-South cooperation in this dynamic, fast-growing and diversified region.  It facilitates knowledge exchanges intraregionally and interregionally and mainstreams South-South cooperation through the UNDP Asia-Pacific Centre's regional advisory service mechanism to UNDP country offices. It also designs innovative South-South programmes in support of the UN Office's three platforms, such as the Korean Facility for Poverty Reduction through South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Education, Science and Technology; South-South Support for Small to Medium Enterprises; and the South-South Citizenry-based Development Sub-academy or Local Academy for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Regional South-South Unit leads the Regional United Nations Development Group Task Team on South-South Cooperation in support to strengthening the processes and capacity for South-South programming in United Nations Country Teams. It represents the Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation in South-South advocacy, policy dialogue and liaisoning with other regional United Nations entities in designing South-South cooperation strategies. The Regional South-South Unit also organizes South-South events that support the 3-in-1 architecture at the regional level, including South-South Expo exhibitions and forums and support to SS-GATE networking.

Click here to read more about our activities in Asia and Pacific

Featured Initiatives

High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, 19th Session

High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, 19th Session

The 19th Session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation met in ... more

Good Practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development

Good Practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development

Good practices to accelerate sustainable human development are increasingly... more

Global South-South Development Expo 2016

Global South-South Development Expo 2016

Sharing Southern solutions and strategies for the implementation of Agenda 2030... more

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