Guterres: South-South cooperation ‘more essential than ever’ 

10 September 2021

The UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) held a high-level virtual panel discussion on Friday focused on boosting solidarity “in support of a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future”. 

Speaking at the event, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “as the world seeks to ramp up COVID-19 response and recovery and tackle the existential threat of climate change, South-South and triangular cooperation is more essential than ever.” 

The initiative comes just two days before the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, marked on 12 September.   

Challenge like no other 

António Guterres called the COVID-19 pandemic “the most complex immediate challenge facing our world and it is undermining hard won social, economic and environmental gains.” 

He said that, in such trying times, “the solidarity that underpins South-South cooperation has once again proven vital for developing countries.” 

“Throughout the pandemic, countries of the Global South have shared their knowledge and resources to support response and recovery efforts. But, together, we must do much more,” he said. 

For Mr. Guterres, the world needs deeper international cooperation to address the global health crisis, reduce poverty and inequality, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and avert climate catastrophe. 

The UN Chief explained “that means building inclusive and resilient societies, empowering women and youth, leveraging digital, greener and bluer initiatives, and expanding sustainable financing.” 

The countries of the South have contributed to more than half of the world’s growth in recent years. Intra-south trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of all world trade. 

 “South-South and triangular cooperation offer concrete solutions to these shared challenges,” Mr. Guterres added. 

Recovering from the pandemic 

Speaking at the same event, the President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, said the world needs “to do more to help these developing countries in recovering from COVID-19 pandemic and South-South cooperation plays an important role in that regard.” 

“I have a lengthy list of facts and figures about the impact on developing countries, on anything from income to inequality, from gender empowerment to access to social services. Suffice to say, these figures are not good. Years of development gains have been wiped away or are in jeopardy,” he said.  

He said that, in his travels, particularly in Central Asia and in the Caribbean, he saw that South-South and triangular cooperation are pivotal to addressing challenges, particularly those that cross borders and regions. For him, UN country and regional teams are well placed to promote and support these efforts.

 

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