Mr Henrique BANZE, ACP Assistant Secretary-General – Macroeconomics, Development Finance and Intra-ACP Programming give us some insights on the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States involvement in South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC), its main achievements in this area and what the prospects are for future South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
The ACP Group of States and the ACP Secretariat supporting its work, promote cooperation amongst Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Could you tell us about the ACP Group of States involvement in South-South and Triangular Cooperation and what are the main achievements in this area?
Let me start by providing a brief overview of the ACP Group of States.
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group) at a glance
The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group) was established by the Georgetown Agreement in June 1975. It is founded and operates on the values of unity, solidarity, and understanding among peoples.
The ACP Group has expanded over time and today is comprised of 79 developing Member States located in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
The Group has had a historical relationship with the European Union (EU), through a partnership governed by a series of cooperation agreements, since 1960. The Cotonou Agreement, which currently governs the ACP-EU partnership, was signed in 2000 and is based on three pillars:
- development cooperation;
- trade and economic cooperation; and
- political cooperation (political dialogue).
The ACP Group, through cooperation and dialogue, has the following general objectives:
- reducing and eradicating poverty in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- gradually integrating ACP countries into the global economy;
- promoting and strengthening solidarity among its Member States;
- helping to foster economic, trade, and cultural relations among ACP States through information sharing;
- helping to promote regional and inter-regional cooperation; and
- promoting a new economic world order.
ACP Group’s commitment to South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC)
The characteristics of the ACP Group, especially its diversity, and the objectives I referred to earlier, make it predisposed to and justify its commitment to South-South and Triangular Cooperation. The Group has considerable potential for sharing knowledge, experience and best practices among its Member States and regions, and with other countries and regions of the South. These features are important asset to cooperation in general and to South-South Cooperation in particular.
From a political standpoint, the ACP Group firmly supports SSTC. The ACP Heads of State and Government have become aware of its added value. At the 7th and 8th Summits, ACP Heads of State and Government underscored the active role and contribution of SSTC in building capacities through the sharing of development experiences and solutions. They called for the creation of an ACP institution to address south‑south cooperation in a systematic way and take advantage of the Group’s wealth of experience, best practice and knowledge.
This strong political fervour and the need to better understand SSTC became crucial for the ACP engagement and it led the ACP Group to consider the critical factors that would enable it to effectively engage in SSTC. By making development expertise, experiences, and solutions available for development cooperation, SSTC is innovating and promoting the coherence of the global commitment to implementing the SDGs.
The ACP Group has extensive and in-depth experience in North-South development cooperation (NSC) and has consistently supported south-south collaboration. The Group has knowingly engaged in SSTC, as a complement to NSC, in order to address the latter’s shortcomings. Over the past eight years, however, SSTC has gained increased prominence in the ACP Group’s work programme. The Group has participated in international conferences and held a series of symposia and meetings on SSTC, thereby demonstrating its interest in this innovative development cooperation modality.
The lessons learnt from the outcomes and conclusions of these meetings led to the creation of an ACP Information Centre for SSTC, with a long-term perspective. In summary, the different activities are as follows:
First Symposium: ACP-OIF Symposium on Strengthening South-South Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities for the ACP Group
Held in January 2011, in collaboration with the International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF), the First Symposium dealt with strengthening South-South Cooperation, by focusing on the challenges and opportunities for the ACP Group. The Symposium provided a framework for open and constructive dialogue and for the sharing of experiences among the various ACP and non-ACP stakeholders.
The Symposium helped to:
raise awareness about crucial international development cooperation issues from the point of view of traditional and emerging donors;
explore the possibilities of the ACP Group’s effective participation in South‑South and Triangular Cooperation programmes; and lay the groundwork for the advancement of South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
The First Symposium recognised South-South Cooperation (SSC) as a tangible reality that could even create new areas of development cooperation. Three areas of reflection were recommended with a view to conducting an analytical study on SSC, in relation to:
- its added value and contribution to development;
- its effectiveness in meeting development goals; and
- its complementarity with North-South Cooperation.
Second Symposium: ACP Symposium on South-South and Triangular Cooperation
The Second Symposium, held in 2014, followed on from the first one, providing a database for the analysis of SSTC and the development of South‑South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) policies.
Based on the findings, the ACP Group is seeking to position itself as a knowledge hub and platform for research and the sharing of best practices. It also serves as an intermediary to streamline current initiatives and as a facilitation interface between supply and demand for South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
As a facilitator of South-South and Triangular Cooperation for ACP countries and cooperation providers, the role of the ACP Group is to identify opportunities for SSTC and to assist Member States in their development efforts through SSTC.
Third Symposium: ACP-OIF-COMSEC-FAO-CPLP Symposium on South-South and Triangular Cooperation to Support the Empowerment of Women and Youth Entrepreneurship
The ACP Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the support of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), held a Third Symposium on SSTC, themed, “Integrated Rural Development: Strengthening Women and Youth Empowerment through Jobs and Entrepreneurship,” through the sharing of knowledge and experiences.
The Symposium highlighted current development experiences and solutions in ACP countries that relate to the empowerment of women and young people in rural areas through jobs and entrepreneurship. It recommended the sharing of best practices through South-South and Triangular Cooperation, based on an analysis of comparative advantage.
The Symposium achieved the following specific objectives:
the highlighting of the importance of South-South and Triangular Cooperation as an approach to development cooperation in order to promote the empowerment of women and the youth;
- identification of priority areas and sharing of best practices in order to promote the empowerment of women and the youth through jobs and entrepreneurship;
- definition of mechanisms through which South-South and Triangular Cooperation can support the exchange and transfer of best practices; and
- development of an action plan for the ACP Group to support South-South and Triangular Cooperation programmes.
Main achievements in the area of South-South Cooperation
As far as the achievements are concerned, four important points can be made, as follows:
- The existing awareness and recognition of the importance and added value of South-South cooperation by Member States and the commitment to pursue it further;
- The institutionalisation of South-South cooperation by incorporating it into the Strategic Management Plan of the ACP Secretariat 2017-2020 as one of the six strategic objectives. The expected outcome is that South-South and Triangular Cooperation among ACP countries will be fostered to promote development and Intra-ACP cooperation. Expected outputs, among others, are: (i) SSTC mainstreamed in ACP programs and projects; (ii) partnerships between the ACP Secretariat and multilateral and bilateral institutions on SSTC strengthened; (iii) symposium on SSTC organised in the ACP biannually;
- The creation of an ACP Information Centre for South-South and Triangular Cooperation. At its 108th session in December 2018, the ACP Council of Ministers created the ACP Information Centre for South-South Cooperation. The Centre has been established in Equatorial Guinea, with headquarters in Malabo. The main objectives of the Centre are: (i) to promote South-South and Triangular Cooperation amongst ACP countries and others; (ii) to foster the sharing of lessons of success and exchange of relevant experience, knowledge and technical expertise and to create learning tool through the collection of qualitative feedback and to ensure adaptive replication; (iii) to level the playing field in terms of information by allowing all actors to have access to valid, relevant and systematised information; (iv) to forge partnerships between the ACP Centre and other inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, particularly of the South, and with academic and research institutions, as well as with international and national entities and with interested individual of proven achievement; and to contribute to ACP Group visibility by raising its profile amongst key audience in SSTC, giving all ACP countries and interested groups and individuals access to the ACP Centre publications and to the results of its publications; and
- The establishment of partnerships with institutions and countries working in the area of SSTC, as is the case with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, FAO, and Brazil. Other organisations and countries have already shown interest in pursuing cooperation with ACP Group.
What are the prospects for future South-South and Triangular collaboration and do you see it as a key feature in the future work of the ACP Group, and in what areas?
The prospects for future SSTC are encouraging. As referred to in the ACP-UNOSSC publication “South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Action,” looking towards of the ACP Group beyond 2020 the policy framework document “Towards the ACP we want” elaborates on SSTC and other key mechanisms for delivering on the 2030 Agenda as well as the need to develop a strategy that fosters a genuine cooperation among members of the ACP Group.
As ACP countries, like other countries around the world, are already implementing the overarching 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, as well as their continental, regional, sub-regional and national developmental policies and strategies, the ACP Group looks forward to building on the experience and knowledge of its Member States and non-ACP countries and to facilitate even more SSTC.
Hence, the objective is to ensure that the ACP Group performs a role as a Hub and Facilitator of SSTC. The establishment of the ACP Information Centre will contribute significantly to achieving this challenging goal.
The manifested interest of organisations and countries to partner with the ACP Group is an important enabling factor to further foster SSTC in the long-term cooperation framework.
In a nutshell, for the ACP, looking ahead in the area of SSTC means:
- Continuing to foster SSTC among ACP countries to promote development and Intra-ACP cooperation;
- Forging partnerships to enhance South-South cooperation, including among member states, sub-regional and regional organisations, centres of excellence, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society organisations;
- Continuing to organise the series of symposia to further the work on SSTC; and
- Operationalising the ACP Information Centre for South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation in Malabo.