The following was written by Guest Blogger Anant Mishra and does not reflect the views of The Washington Outsider or its staff.
Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to the United Nations. He has served extensively in the United Nations General Assembly as well as the Economic and Social Council.
The United Nations Development Program has revised their strategic plan for 2014-17 to include their plans for greater South-South Cooperation (SSC). The objective is to encourage more international and national partnerships, greater technology sharing, and greater solution building across the Southern Hemisphere. By looking at the phenomenal economic growth in the South, it is clear that this cooperation will open the doors for development in underdeveloped countries.
The importance of South – South Cooperation is in the agenda for many of the international conferences of today. Also known as “global South,” the need for South-South cooperation brings crucial discussions with respect to sectors, such as technology, trade, business, and global economics, while addressing domestic and international politics. It aims to build cooperation between nations in order to achieve their developmental agendas by sharing knowledge, skills, expertise, and manpower with each other. The objective of SSC is to promote self-development while creating an environment favourable to cooperation and coordination for growth across the overall global economy.
More importantly, the South – South Cooperation is significant for the fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Besides the significance of South – South Cooperation, most of the nations in Global South continue to suffer from acute food shortages and insufficient access to sanitation, which has forced thousands to fled to neighbouring countries for work.
The United Nations defines it “as a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South” and a necessary partnership to foster growth and development. SSC is not mandated under any agenda or scheme, it is simply voluntary, a replication of North-South cooperation. North-South Cooperation is a perfect example of cooperation and coordination between developing, developed economies and international agencies.
Economically, the value of the entire SSC is between $16.1 billion and $19 billion; whereas, the investment coming to the nations has increased to $759 billion, which is more than half of the entire foreign direct investment. Many developing economies are now identifying partners and strengthening the public-private partnership model, thus opening doors for growth and development.
With this economic power and massive influence alone, they have the ability to change the dynamics of international relations. It is estimated that nations, such as China, Brazil, and India, will economically supprass developed nations, such as Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. This clearly means developing economies have taken their seat at the table of global economic power.
Economic opportunities and scope of development through SSC
For many years, policy makers and political leaders have been focusing on the importance of South-South cooperation in terms of trade, investment, and tourism. The overall discussion, however, seems to be far more inconclusive. It is important for policymakers to understand the need to reform current policies, which is one way of ensuring successful SSC. The interaction between nations is crucial for SSC as regional and national governments will be able to cooperate and coordinate with other international agencies to ensure better infrastructure to facilitate trade.
It is also important for us to understand that most of the agreements are bilateral. For starters, China plays a crucial role in SSC as it provides billions to African nations in the form of aid. This enables the African countries to enhance their agricultural markets. As the cooperation increases, the Office of the UN for South – South Cooperation will need adequate resources to monitor the progress and assess the cooperation.
It is important for policymakers within the UN to understand the need for expanding and relocating additional resources to the Office of South – South Cooperation. In addition, policymakers need to address the concerns of bilateral and multilateral trade. Finally, the SSC will open doors for member nations to share major resources in the field of technology and science.
Growing need for Energy Technology
SSC needs to heavily focus on growing demands of energy technology, because the modern lives of humans depend heavily upon energy. It is important for developing and underdeveloped countries in the South to secure their energy needs. As energy deficient nations struggle to maintain economic growth, economy security has major repercussions on human development. This is particularly true when it comes to industries heavily dependent on energy, which play major roles in development of a nation.
The 7th goal of Sustainable Development talks about ensuring affordable and sustainable energy for the future. In order to ensure affordable energy, it is important for developing economies to provide technical assistance to each other, which allows countries to get the necessary expertise they need. This mentioned in the Buenos Aires Plan for Action, which heavily focused on the cooperation of regional, national, and international agencies. It stated the important of technological assistance between the nations which will bear fruits of growth and development for the member nations as well as the stakeholders involved. Developing countries will be able to enhance their capacity building process through cooperation.
It is important for policymakers to understand the need to establish renewable energy devices at regional levels, while opening doors for private stakeholders in making crucial energy policies. One such is the South – South Initiative (SSI), which predominantly works to foster the sharing of valuable resources, knowledge, experience, necessary intelligence, and research among private entities.
Another initiative includes the rural energy partnerships, which increases energy access in rural areas, thereby opening the doors for many private entities to invest. Initiatives such as these have been widely successful in rural Africa, although the scope for opportunities lies unexplored.
In spite of government initiatives, most of rural India is still living in the dark. Almost 915 million people in Asia are living without electricity. All told, 2.6 Billion people in rural Asia are forced to survive on biomass for heating and cooking. It is important for policymakers to understand that this lack of access to energy and basic energy services slows down the efforts to combat poverty. Moreover, the energy demands for South East Asia by 2035 will increase to 85%. There is an absolute need to ensure easy access to energy, in an effort for to achieve economic growth.
Growing need for Food Security
Through SSC crucial matters, food security, along with poverty, inequality, and unstable food prices, will be addressed. These issues are posing a grave threat to the developing economies in their fight against food insecurity. Developing economies heavily rely on unprocessed food exports. For many Asian countries, poor investment in agriculture and food security are a few of the major challenges. The 2nd Sustainable Development Goal calls for a universal support to end hunger and achieve food security while promoting sustainable agriculture. It pledges to end hunger and ensures easy access to safe, and sufficient food, irrespective of the nation’s status.
This grave issue can be effectively resolved by exchanging expertise in agriculture production, which will further help reduce malnutrition while firming the nation’s state in times of food crisis. It is important for policymakers to understand the need for knowledge promotion, necessary policy support, voluntary involvement of international and national agencies in an effort to foster sustainable agricultural growth. To create sustainable growth in agriculture, the doors of this sector should be open for FDI’s.
Furthermore, policymakers need to bring their attention to enhance investments in agriculture, while replacing the traditional manual labour with machines.
South-South Cooperation is not only crucial for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, but also for the development of individual nations. It is, henceforth, important for nations to participate in this process. Agencies within and outside of the UN need to coordinate with each other to achieve greater results with more positive outcomes.
Policymakers should not stick to the SDG’s and view SSC through a development prism. To promote overall growth and economic prosperity, nations need to address each and every issue that hinders development. Developing economies needs to address energy and food security more effectively. After all, viable solutions can be replicated in other nations as well. With new initiatives underway, nations need to address the previous ones with similar earnest. SSC is one initiative by which nations can effectively and efficiently address the crucial issues.
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