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United, we stand together to achieve sustainable development


By Deepali Khanna and Siddharth Chatterjee | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-09-12 11:47


The world today faces a future in peril. Our challenges have become more complex and interconnected, as we see the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, an uneven economic recovery, a climate emergency, growing inequalities and an increase in global conflict. This year also marks a dark milestone, with more than 100 million people forcibly displaced.

These events accompany a growing division within the community of nations that threatens to make achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) even more out of reach for countries in the Global South.

In addition to these crises, rising food and energy prices, driven by the conflict in Ukraine, could push 71 million people into poverty, according to the UNDP. The countries of the South, generally made up of countries from South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, were already grappling with economic problems which are now exacerbated by the triple planetary crisis.

With limited resources, high vulnerability and low resilience, people in the Global South will bear the brunt of our inaction, on the climate and elsewhere. Depending solely on external aid from the countries of the North or the G7 cannot be a panacea. Here, the countries of the South can empower themselves and combine their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Cooperate to catalyze change

In the face of global threats, international cooperation remains vital, as highlighted on the International Day of South-South Cooperation. South-South cooperation seeks to complement traditional development models by highlighting the transformations needed to achieve priorities, including the SDGs. It offers possible solutions from the Global South to the Global South.

Countries in the Global South have contributed more than half of global economic growth in recent times. Intra-South trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of world trade. It is time to take greater advantage of these partnerships in the field of development.

We’ve seen it before as many countries tried to get COVID-19 vaccines. Citizens of low- and middle-income countries have faced systemic discrimination in the global response to COVID-19, leaving millions without access to vaccines, tests and treatments. India has sent over 254.4 million vaccine supplies to countries around the world, under Vaccine Maitri – a vaccine export initiative.

Similarly, China has provided more than 200 million doses of vaccines to the COVAX facility, in addition to providing millions of dollars in medical supplies to countries in the Global South, including in Africa, throughout the pandemic.

Informing partnership models with Africa and China

To advance development priorities, partnerships must be rooted in shared interests that can lead to shared gains, as demonstrated by traditional development models and aid from the North. This dynamic must also be at the heart of the Sino-African relationship.

China, an economic power, has the potential to advance development in the countries of the South, particularly in Africa, by bringing its experience, expertise and resources, and its assistance must serve both its interests and those of the countries. where she operates.

Investments in common goals are reflected in China’s efforts to improve public health in Africa, including building the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia, and clean energy, through projects such as the Kafue Lower Gorge Power Station in Zambia. .

China promises to invest US$60 billion in Africa by 2035, in agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, environmental protection and the digital economy. This is welcome, and these planned investments must meet the needs of local economies and societies.

What works in one country may not work elsewhere, but true collaboration helps to learn from mistakes and share successes. This is where UN expertise can ensure that cooperation is demand-driven, in line with local expectations and needs, national development priorities and relevant international norms and standards.

Platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) can help improve this essential partnership. This mechanism has identified shared priorities such as climate change, agriculture/food systems, global health, energy security and others between China and Africa.

For the first time in the history of FOCAC and with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the UN in China is engaged as a strategic partner in this bilateral mechanism between China and Africa. The UN in China is pursuing similar efforts in close consultation with relevant counterparts, including the China International Development Cooperation Agency.

For the Rockefeller Foundation, it’s a nod to its legacy in China dating back to 1914, rooted in reshaping medical education to improve health care and its current priorities for advancing collaboration with countries of the South, particularly in the areas of public health, food and access to clean energy. public goods.

Beyond the countries of the South: acting together

With less than eight years to achieve the SDGs, genuine international cooperation is our only hope. Emerging trends in technology and innovation can lead us there, along with increased South-South cooperation efforts. But it forces us to “overturn orthodoxy, as UN Under-Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed has advised.

The Ebola crisis is an example where global cooperation, including South-South cooperation, enabled Sierra Leone to defeat the spread of the disease, including through a brigade of 461 health workers sent to Sierra Leone to support their overloaded system. Later, other countries made similar efforts to support Sierra Leone and neighboring countries, such as Guinea and Liberia. This example shows the potential of South-South cooperation, but also of triangular cooperation and North-South partnerships. Public-private partnerships (PPP) are another financing and capacity-building mechanism.

This can be seen in Kenya, where the government and the UN system have convened an SDG partnership platform with companies such as Philips, Huawei, Safaricom, GSK and Merck. Findings include a downward trend in maternal and infant mortality in some of the country’s most remote regions. Similar PPPs can hold promise for unlocking global progress on the SDGs.

Today, as we face a more unstable world, the spirit of South-South cooperation shows a fundamental value we need: solidarity. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “the past two years have demonstrated a simple but stark truth – if we leave anyone behind, we leave everyone behind.”

Deepali Khanna is Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asia Region Office. Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.

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