The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General today called for stronger and more innovative cooperation between developing countries, particularly neighbouring States, to tackle global challenges such as poverty, hunger and climate change.
“Development does not occur in a vacuum,” Asha-Rose Migiro told the UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation, taking place in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “It has proved to be most successful when coupled with strategies to increase cross-border trade and investment.”
The three-day meeting, which began today will review 30 years of progress since the UN Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1978.
Ms. Migiro said that since Buenos Aires, millions of men, women and children have been lifted out of extreme poverty and a number of developing countries had achieved the fastest pace of economic growth in human history.
“The international community can only welcome higher South-South investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development, particularly here in Africa,” she stated.
At the same time, South and North alike faced multiple crises, including hunger – which now afflicted an unprecedented 1 billion people – as well as unemployment, slumping trade and looming climate change.
“Solutions to these and other ills require stronger cooperation, starting with one’s immediate neighbours,” said the deputy UN chief.
Ms. Migiro added that South-South cooperation should not replace North-South cooperation, but rather complement it. “Together we can harness the great endowments of the South and achieve the internationally agreed development goals.”
Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Secretary-General of the Conference, told the participants that her agency aims to support and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience across the South to help accelerate development.
She added that, in light of the current global recession, developing countries needed ready access to most relevant knowledge and best practices in order to devise their own responses. To that end, UNDP had witnessed that many countries had begun looking to their neighbours in the South for responses more suitable to addressing the current financial crisis.