UNDP heralds new era in South-South links

14 Apr 2011

New York — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is spearheading a range of new partnerships directly between countries in or bordering Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America that previously had been recipients of development support from Europe, the United States, Japan and other traditional donors.

Partnership agreements signed under UNDP with China, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa, and discussions with India and Indonesia, are forging a new era in cross-border and intra-regional cooperation between hotspots of economic growth and lower-income countries around the world.

“The New South is built around the idea that solutions to today’s development challenges are more likely to be found among those that have developed recently than those that went through their development phase over a century ago,” said Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant Secretary General and chief of UNDP’s Asia Pacific Bureau.

“In the escalator of development more relevant ideas and experiences for finding solutions to poverty, hunger and disease will come from those that developed a decade or so ago than those that developed a century ago.”

An agreement with China was signed last September in the presence of Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, and Premier Wen Jia Bao, supporting developing-country efforts to cut poverty, and boost agriculture and health care. The agreement built on China’s success in lifting 500 million of its population out of poverty.

In October last year, Brazil’s Minister of Health José Gomes Temporão signed an agreement with UNDP for a joint project of about US$ 36 million to strengthen public health and tracking of infectious diseases in Haiti following the country’s earthquake the previous January.

“A new development model is emerging in the New South which should be seen as a complement to aid from the North to help solve global problems,” said Chhibber, speaking on Tuesday in the UN’s New York headquarters at a lecture on 'South-South and Triangular Cooperation', co-organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

The event, which launched the Asian Development Bank’s flagship Asian Development Outlook 2011, highlighted the potential for new forms of cooperation, especially in trade, to add to the Asia Pacific region’s firm rebound from the global recession and expected solid economic growth in the next two years.

The report forecasts growth in the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at nearly eight percent in 2011, dropping slightly in 2012 but far outstripping 2011 projections of 2.1 percent for world’s major industrial economies, 2.8 percent for the United States and 1.6 percent for Euro-currency countries.

The report also notes that developing countries in Asia have contributed about two-thirds to the South’s share of global GDP which increased from about 25 percent to 45 percent between 1980 and 2010. The major source for much of this growth is in countries such as China, where partially-completed products are assembled before export to final destinations in the United States and Europe.

“Developing Asia will have to forge stronger links with non-traditional markets to maintain growth and to make it more inclusive,” says the report. “There is considerable potential to broaden South-South links with fast growing emerging economies, both within Asia, as well as Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.”