Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start by thanking the Government of Turkey for hosting the Expo this year and for its great commitment to South-South and Triangular cooperation. Allow me also to commend the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation for organizing the Expo and for its dedicated efforts in championing cooperation in the Global South.
Over the past three decades, major changes in the development landscape have placed South-South Cooperation firmly at the forefront of the global development discourse. Countries of the South have put the power of their partnerships at the service of mutual solidarity, learning of their best development experience and advancement of international public goods including peace and security. South-South trade is at historic highs – exceeding South-North, North-South or even North-North trade. Soon we may be able to say the same of South-South development cooperation.
Innovative forms of assistance among developing countries are emerging. Southern multinational corporations, civil society groups and philanthropies are driving change. As a source of innovation, knowledge, and concrete solutions to development challenges, the Global South is influencing collaboration at all levels, making significant contributions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Given the remarkable progress made by developing countries in recent years, we are convinced that solutions to future global challenges will come as much from the traditional North as from the emerging South.
While progress is undeniable, we also know that development gains have been uneven in the past fifteen years. Poverty, unemployment and vulnerability to climate and weather-related shocks persist. More than two billion people have little or no access to decent living conditions. About 1.4 billion people – the majority of whom live in developing countries – still have no reliable electricity, 900 million lack access to clean water, and 2.6 billion to adequate sanitation. Today, around 768 million people, representing close to 10% of the total global population, still live in extreme poverty.
To address these challenges, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals cover a broad range of social development issues like poverty, hunger, health and education, environment issues like climate change, water, sanitation, energy and biodiversity, and social justice issues like peace, inclusion, gender equality and good governance.
South-South and triangular cooperation needs to be the kind of alliance that creates jobs, strengthens trade, improves infrastructure, transfers technology, promotes regional integration and benefits all countries involved.
UNDP has been privileged to work jointly with UNOSSC over many years to support South-South Cooperation. We have proudly hosted the Office since 1974 – leading up to the Buenos Aires Plan of Action in 1978 – as the focal point for facilitating and mainstreaming South-South and triangular cooperation for development on a global and United Nations system-wide basis.
Together, we have supported the establishment of the South-South Global Thinkers Initiative, a coalition of think tank networks for South-South cooperation to advance thought leadership. We will convene the first Board Meeting of this network here in Antalya on Thursday to inform our ongoing global policy dialogues on South-South and triangular Cooperation, and to provide the research that will feed into the upcoming 40th Anniversary of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.
As part of UNDP’s Corporate Strategy on South-South and Triangular cooperation, UNDP introduced SSMART for SDGs at the 2016 Global South-South Development Expo held in Dubai. SSMART is a global marketplace of development solutions to address the SDGs, by systematizing and scaling-up South-South cooperation.
Later today, UNDP will be showcasing big data for development solutions from the South. The data generated is being used to assess poverty in rural areas, improve the productivity of the public sector, create a more responsive social protection system, strengthen the resilience of cities against climate change and provide precise information for urban transportation planning.
Forty years ago, the Global South came together in Buenos Aires for the first time to formulate a plan of action for promoting and implementing technical cooperation among developing countries. Today the Sustainable Development Goals present a vision of a world without poverty – where the “South” is only a point on a compass, not a reference to levels of development. It is my hope that, through greater Cooperation, generosity will not have a geographic tone, but will be recognized as a universal value, practiced by many for all those who need it.