South-South and Triangular Cooperation

The rich diversity of the South provides an excellent opportunity for forging mutually beneficial partnerships to work towards economic growth, industrial development and poverty reduction. Since the 1978 Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among developing countries, South-South cooperation has been steadily gaining momentum and has shown encouraging trends. The outcome document of the 2009 High-level UN Conference on South-South cooperation held in Nairobi, Kenya acknowledged the roles that national governments, regional entities and UN agencies are to play in supporting and implementing South-South and Triangular Cooperation.

South-South cooperation is a methodology of development which facilitates the exchange of knowledge, experience, technology, investment, information and capacity between and among Southern countries through governments, civil society organizations, academic institutions, national institutions and networks to accelerate political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical development. This framework is now widely recognized as a key mechanism for the development agenda of countries in the South and is guided by mutual benefit between countries, respect for national sovereignty and ownership, establishment of partnership among equals, non-conditionality in cooperation and non-interference in domestic affairs.

The underlying notion of this emerging framework is that South-South cooperation is not a substitute but rather a complement to North-South cooperation. The tripartite collaboration and partnerships between South-South-North countries is referred to as Triangular Cooperation. Triangular Cooperation is the result of technical cooperation among two or more southern countries (South-South) that is supported, through financial, technical or other means by northern donors or by international organizations. This has resulted in additional channels through which developed countries can contribute to and support sustainable industrial development.

How UNIDO works to promote South-South cooperation

UNIDO plays a pivotal role in giving a stimulus to South-South cooperation by bringing forward its expertise and time-tested field experience in support of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs). In light of the changing global industrial setting, UNIDO plays an important role in the United Nations system with regards to South-South Cooperation, as it strives to be:

  • Engaged in the implementation of technical cooperation projects;
  • A global convener for South-South cooperation and Triangular Cooperation dialogue;
  • A broker/sponsor of partnerships & knowledge exchange among Northern and Southern countries;
  • An active agent and monitor of South-South cooperation global processes, dynamics and future modalities.

UNIDO promotes South-South cooperation through the following activities:

UNIDO technical cooperation projects with South-South cooperation modalities

UNIDO platforms, networks and partnerships with South-South cooperation modalities

UNIDO as a global convener on South-South cooperation