As we approach the second anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognition of the role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation increasingly grows.

In the UN Secretary-General’s Report on repositioning the UN development system to achieve what he described as the “boldest agenda for humanity”, a vital area of action is South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SS&TC). SS&TC is a pragmatic approach rooted in the ethos of creating partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda, hitting the right notes on building capacities, localising the Agenda and promoting innovation.

Recognising the growing relevance of SS&TC in accelerating sustainable development and upon the initiative of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Regional Division for Arab States, Europe and the CIS,  the UN System Staff College (UNSSC) Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development  in partnership with the UNOSSC developed and launched a joint course on “UN Catalytic Support to South-South & Triangular Cooperation in Implementing the 2030 Agenda”, in November 2016.

Following this successful pilot, the UNOSSC Regional Division for Arab States, Europe and the CIS approached the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for a follow-up joint capacity building initiative on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in implementing the 2030 Agenda. The initiative envisaged ten trainings in the Arab States and Europe and CIS (including an EU country), in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and with support from international organizations including the South Centre. This politically significant initiative targeted key national players in agricultural development and enhanced food security, development and international cooperation. The nine countries selected were Algeria, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Turkey, Sudan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.

With nine of the ten trainings concluded, the results have been encouraging, and endorse the importance of South-South and Triangular Cooperation as a modality to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The skills-building component of the course addressed the key principles, tools and methods of South-South and Triangular Cooperation; strengthened stakeholder engagement and negotiation skills needed to overcome the underlying negotiation challenges; and focused on better understanding the roles of different actors involved and mobilising relevant partnerships. The trainings also explored the catalytic role the United Nations can play in promoting the South-South Cooperation agendas of its member states and development partners as a whole.

Around 200 participants completed the nine trainings concluded thus far, and 100% of the participants said they would recommend future editions of this training to other colleagues.

In the post-training evaluations conducted by UNSSC, participants reported an increased common understanding of the theory and practices that help promote the South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The vast majority of participants said the training was relevant to their work.

This sentiment was echoed in various testimonials, with one of the participants articulating it thus, “Excellent and innovative training. Timely and essential; It was a pleasure to attend this training. For ourselves, we learnt what we did not know about what South-South is and sustainable development.”

As another participant noted, “Actually, I do believe Sudan is one of the potential countries qualified to set a perfect example of home grown solutions to mitigate the effect of inconvenient conditions and challenges related to climate change, water scarcity, technology relevant to production and productivity”. These words capture the spark ignited by the UNOSSC’s continuing work, including the joint trainings with the UNSSC Knowledge Centre, culminating in the inclusion of the initiative in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Sudanese and Hungarian Ministries of Agriculture signed on 10 May 2017. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Hungary Mr. István Nagy, and his Sudanese counterpart Mr. Yagoub Mohamed El Tayeb, signed an agreement on strengthening bilateral trade and research and development ties in farming and the food industry.

"Hungary is interested in cooperation in veterinary and plant health, the seed and fodder sector, the processing industry and slaughterhouse technology. Hungarian researchers will also benefit from Sudanese experience in climate adaptation. Sudan and Hungary are both potential food exporters that would greatly benefit from a boost to the local processing industry,” Mr. Nagy said.

Expert exchange, reciprocal visits and trainings between the two countries will be implemented in the context of technology transfer and integrated solutions. The potential areas of collaboration focus on the use of biotechnology to improve crop characteristics through genetic engineering through the method of double haploid, which is mainly practised on corn in Sudan. It is recognised that there is room to introduce practices that increase the productivity of vegetable crops.

The success of the trainings and real world outcomes such as the bilateral MoU concluded between Hungary and Sudan give impetus to the UNSSC, the UNOSSC and the UN system as a whole to redouble its efforts in promoting South-South and Triangular Cooperation.

As the UN Office for South-South Cooperation and the UN System Staff College Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development joined forces fully respecting their mandates, this partnership is another important step in amplifying the UN’s catalytic role in advancing South-South and Triangular Cooperation for sustainable development.

As the UN Secretary-General’s Report on Repositioning the UN development system notes, “We must also step up capacities to support and leverage south-south cooperation, as a complement to traditional development assistance. This form of cooperation among developing countries is a unique asset for knowledge-exchange, transfer of appropriate technologies, and tested development solutions– as valuable to developing countries as financial resources.”

The next edition of the training on “UN Catalytic Support to South-South & Triangular Cooperation in Implementing the 2030 Agenda” will take place in Bonn, Germany from 17 to 19 October 2017. For more information, please click here.