When countries of the Global South forged an historic technical cooperation deal among themselves 40 years ago, digital technology was a thing of the future, but developing nations have come a long way since then.
China, for example, has managed to send an exploration vehicle to the dark side of the Moon, while India has a satellite orbiting Mars. A new digital tool launched on Tuesday, just ahead of the Second High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, aims to strengthen the ways countries share their technology, to benefit developing countries.
The “South-South Galaxy”, is a global knowledge sharing and partnership platform, officially launched in the city hosting the “BAPA+40” conference – the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires - by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
The project aims to give systematic and effective support to countries of the South so they can connect, learn and collaborate with potential partners in the wider digital world.
"The Galaxy project will place in a single digital space all the great experiences of South-South cooperation”, said Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy of the Secretary General, and Director of the UNOSSC, in an interview with UN News, which will be covering the conference throughout the week. “We are talking about the best cases, the best opportunities to establish contacts and partnerships”, he added.
The project, which was launched on the eve of the conference, seeks to unite existing platforms developed by UN agencies and their partners, allowing all in the South-South cooperation field to access and navigate a wide range of knowledge, solutions, research, and development initiatives.
“I look forward to making it a live database. The key for that is to have a strong institutional commitment of many partners and to develop it in a way that it becomes an useful element where users can find what they need to build a better reality in their countries”, Mr. Chediek explained.
From recipients, to tech pioneers
For the Special Envoy, technology has become essential for developing countries, which are increasingly taking the initiative to innovate in the digital world.
"Traditionally, the countries of the South were the recipients of technology. The productive technology, the information technology, was generated in the North,” said Mr. Chediek. “Currently these countries are creating new technologies and have developed new models of how to use them for the benefit of their societies. In this context, South-South cooperation becomes very important for other developing countries to learn and take advantage of these new tools", he added.
The Envoy stressed during the event how in 1978, when the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was adopted to promote technical cooperation among developing countries, there was still no notion of what technology will actually represent in the 21st century.
"Who would have thought that after 40 years we would meet in Buenos Aires, at the same time that China has managed to send an exploration vehicle to the dark side of the Moon, and India orbits a satellite on Mars", Mr. Chediek said.
UNOSSC also launched its new report “South-South Cooperation in a Digital World”, on Tuesday, which further explores and analyzes development prospects and trends affecting and impacting digital industries in the Global South, and puts forward proposals for digital industrial cooperation among Southern countries.
Uruguay hails digital opportunities
The President of Uruguay, Mr. Tabaré Vásquez, echoed the Special Envoy’s words of the Envoy saying the world was going through a torrent of technological changes, changing the development paradigm.
"The economy as we have conceived it until now has a new discipline: the digital economy, which is advancing by leaps and bounds. If we look closely at the Big Data market from 2011 to 2017, it has multiplied by 5, and it is estimated that in the next ten years it will triple", he said.
"The immense amount of data available, the ability to process and transmit it, opens a wide range of development opportunities. However, the challenge is that these changes benefit the largest number of inhabitants of our planet and reach the entire population, serving the neediest”, Mr. Vásquez added.
Flags fly at BAPA+40
On Tuesday, the United Nations flag was raised next to flag of Argentina at the Convention and Exhibition Center of Buenos Aires, marking the formal opening of BAPA+40. UN Development Programme (UNDP) chief Achim Steiner, was joined by Jorge Chediek, and the Argentine Foreign Minister, Jorge Faurie, at the ceremony.
“South-South Cooperation enables countries to reach their development goals and reduce poverty through mutual assistance and solidarity. The Conference will adopt a crucial roadmap to accelerate the implementation of concrete solutions to achieve the sustainable development agenda”, said the UNDP chief.
“We are not talking about abstract realities. We are talking about practices and exchanges that are oriented to improve the quality of lives”, the Special Envoy told UN News.
More than 1,000 participants and high-level delegations from dozens of countries, will debate the importance of South-South Cooperation as a tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030.