Helen Clark: Keynote Address at the High-level Event of the General Assembly on the "Contributions of North-South, South-South, Triangular Co-operation, and ICT for Development to the Implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda"

May 21, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Keynote Address
at the
High-level Event of the General Assembly on the
"Contributions of North-South, South-South, Triangular Co-operation, and ICT for Development to the Implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda"
United Nations, New York

Thank you for inviting me to speak at this High-level Event on the "Contributions of North-South, South-South, and Triangular Co-operation, and ICT for Development to the implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda."  The title of this event implies just how important it will be to build broad partnerships around the new global agenda.

At the outset, let me thank the President of the General Assembly for taking the initiative to organize a series of high-level and thematic debates around the emerging post-2015 agenda. This initiative has been very important in ensuring the continued engagement in the process by a wide range of stakeholders.

An ambitious and universal Post-2015 Agenda
There is broad agreement that this new global agenda will be a sustainable development one with poverty eradication at its core. As envisaged in the Outcome Document from last September’s MDG Special Event here in New York, the post-2015 agenda is likely to have a “single framework and set of Goals – universal in nature and applicable to all countries, while taking account of differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities."

The new agenda should build on the successes of and lessons learned from the MDGs, while also reflecting the fast changing development landscape. This means:

1)    appreciating the growing role of the Global South in development co-operation, and supporting the exchange of knowledge and innovative development solutions across countries;
2)    promoting resource mobilization from all available sources, so that the financing  framework has a chance of matching aspirations; and
3)    harnessing the vast potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to transform development.

Let me briefly discuss each.

The Rise of the South and innovative solutions
UNDP’s 2013 Global Human Development Report, “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”, documents the transformation of a number of developing countries into dynamic economies with rising human development and with growing geopolitical influence.

The absolute size of the emerging economies and their populations and the interconnectedness of global challenges, such as climate change, suggest that the full engagement of both the North and the South is needed to pursue new development pathways which are sustainable and inclusive.

Strategies, policies, skills, and expertise are being exchanged through North-South, South-South, and triangular co-operation.  South-South co-operation, understood as a mutually beneficial partnership based on solidarity, equality, and shared development experiences, is growing fast. Innovations and experiences from the South are often seen as the most relevant to the challenges faced by other developing countries.  

UNDP is working to strengthen South-South and triangular co-operation for the advancement of human development. Among a great many examples:

•    We facilitated a visit by a delegation from the Ethiopian Government to Central America to acquire first-hand knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices, supply chain efficiency, and social participation in the coffee sector. 

•    With support from Denmark, UNDP is working with Zambia, Ghana, and China on the transfer of renewable energy technologies, critical skills, and innovative public private partnership modalities. Similarly, Germany has supported UNDP to promote knowledge exchanges on energy efficiency measures in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

•    UNDP has also supported co-operation between Pacific and Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

We see this kind of work being at the very heart of how we support development.

Mobilizing Resources
On mobilizing resources, a new narrative around international co-operation is needed to match the changing development landscape.  

High quality, catalytic, and predictable Official Development Assistance (ODA) will remain important for poverty eradication, especially in Least Developed Countries, and traditional donors should keep the commitments they have made on ODA. These include, but are not limited to, meeting the 0.7 per cent of GNI target and 0.15 per cent of GNI for LDCs, and the commitments made on aid effectiveness.  

Financing needs for development, however, are vast, and will need to be met through a mix of public and private finance and other means, including carbon market mechanisms.  Whereas the MDGs were largely a North-South, ODA-supported agenda, the SDGs will be a universal agenda for which diverse sources of financing are even more important.  

In this context, South-South and triangular co-operation, which are not a substitute for ODA but an important complement to it, can also offer new opportunities. A number of emerging economies are putting in place structures for new development co-operation agencies: these include the Mexican Agency for International Development Co-operation and the South African Development Partnership Agency. Others are already very active in, or are expanding, their existing South-South co-operation, not only in the form of grants and loans, but also through trade and investment.

ICT for Development
The spread of ICTs, particularly of mobile technologies, has been phenomenal.  By the end of 2013, there were an estimated 6.8 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world.  Even so, the full potential of ICTs to transform development efforts has yet to be fully realized.

MDG 8 included a target to make the benefits of new technologies, especially ICTs, readily available to people around the world, in co-operation with the private sector. It is important that that access is equitable for all, including women and girls and all poor and marginalized communities.

While good progress has been made on that target overall, access in itself is only a first step. To ensure significant human development benefits, ICTs should contribute to bringing about real improvements to people’s lives – for example through remote access to health, education, banking, e-government, and other services, and to information in general.

ICTs can also offer more opportunities for citizens to engage in democratic processes, and they are playing a growing role in early warning and response systems when disaster or other crises loom and/or occur. ICTs have been critical in getting global citizen engagement in the debate around post-2015 – around two million people have now engaged in the outreach facilitated by the UN development system – many of them through the online My World survey.

ICTs are transformational for economies at every level. For the small farmer, real-time information on weather and market prices and advice on planting and on marketing can be available via the mobile phone.  By promoting ICT business start-ups, developing countries can tap into the tremendous wealth of creativity, energy, and enthusiasm among youth – Kenya’s iHUB Innovation Hub for budding ICT entrepreneurs in Nairobi is one of a number of good examples of this. More generally, the fast adoption of ICTs drives innovation and productivity throughout economies.

In a world where information is power, people need to acquire the skills to use new technologies. It is estimated that by next year, some ninety per cent of formal employment, across all sectors, will require ICT skills. Big investments in ICT literacy are needed in school systems and in lifelong learning.

ICTs can also help disseminate and promote development solutions, and connect local innovation with decision makers. UNDP has launched the International Network of Social Innovators for Human Development, in partnership with Motorola Solutions, first in Kenya, and then in Tunisia and Rwanda, and is now expanding it to other countries and regions to harness local knowledge and solutions. The Network is connecting social innovators with policy makers at the national and global levels, and fostering South-South co-operation through these exchanges.

To implement an ambitious post-2015 agenda, broad partnerships will be needed to meet the many development challenges which are both cross-cutting and cross-boundary in nature.  Global agreement on where we want our world to be in fifteen years needs to be coupled with the necessary commitments to invest adequate resources and share knowledge, technologies, and experiences.  

I hope the discussions at this High-level Event will help clarify how to achieve “more effective, strengthened, and improved modes of development co-operation” in practice, and give insights into how the fast spread of ICTs can contribute to transformational change for human and sustainable developme

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