What I learnt from participating in the 4th TICA Connect

On 16 August, all roads led to Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 4th Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) Connect. The TICA Connect is an event where TICA and its close working partners celebrate their partnership and showcase the achievements thereof through an exhibition and presentations. The 4th TICA Connect was organized to celebrate the partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  Participants from Government, the Diplomatic Corps, United Nations Agencies and other development-minded people participated in the event.

 

The tone was set by the TICA Director-General, Mrs. Suphatra Srimaitreephithak who noted that, “The establishment of TICA in 2004 was a clear testimony to Thailand’s commitment towards South-South and triangular cooperation.” H.E. Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand later indicated that, “Thailand also values the work done by the UNFPA in providing policy advocacy enhancing the capacity of our institutions and scaling up of South-South Cooperation initiatives to promote the SDGs, population and development agenda over the past five decades”.

 

With debate rife on the way forward for South-South Cooperation as the international community marches towards the Second UN High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation, or “the BAPA+40 Conference”, in March 2019, an event such as this opened windows on how the post-Conference South-South Cooperation could unfold.  The speakers and subsequent panel discussion demonstrated that the South-South Cooperation underpins the cooperation.  As a good example of South-South and triangular cooperation, there were several takes from the event:

 

  1. Leadership on South-South Cooperation does require an institution or strong focal point that can mobilise the national effort (there were representatives from Ministry of Health and various health institutions, who have been engaged by TICA). It is TICA that has entered into partnership arrangements with bilateral collaborators as shown in the previous TICA Connect events with GIZ (Germany) and JICA (Japan). In this case TICA was showcasing its collaboration with a UN Agency that it is working with, one of several UN partners.
  2. A mutual recognition and appreciation of the Partnership based on clear objectives and goals is important. “Together, with Thailand’s support, we must continue working towards the rights-based advocacy; the strategic media engagement; and the private sector partnerships to advance the development work not only in Thailand, but also in other developing countries through the South-South Cooperation framework. In this manner, Thailand and other global development partners including UNFPA are to achieve the 2030 agenda for the Sustainable Development”, said Marcela Suazo, the UNFPA Country Director for Thailand.
  3. South-South Cooperation can be implemented in any sector. H. E. the Deputy Foreign Minister expressed the sentiment that the launch of the “UNFPA-Thailand Solution Network on Making Motherhood Safer” that took place during the same event would be another milestone in TICA/UNFPA global partnership.
    The Network of reference consists of Nursing Institutions in Thailand. If nursing institutions can create what is essentially a South-South or triangular cooperation network to share Thailand’s knowledge and resources in safer motherhood, such mainstreaming can be achieved in any sector.
  4. An appreciation of the roles of South-South and triangular cooperation was another lesson. In almost every case, Thailand refers to both as contributing to solidarity and support to other developing countries.
  5. TICA also used this event more for the future rather than the past. “I hope that this year’s TICA connect will not only be a platform for discussions and exchanges of views, but also an opportunity to strengthen further cooperation with current and new partners with a view to achieving together the SDGs through partnership for the benefit of all ‘Peoples’”, the Deputy Foreign Minister said.
  6. The partnership with a UN Agency is an example of the many cases where UN Agencies play a critical role in South-South or triangular cooperation. This is exactly what UN Member States have asked UN Agencies to do, to assist countries in the implementation of South-South Cooperation.
  7. Lastly, TICA also shows an unwavering focus on attainment of SDGs through these partnerships. As expressed by the UNFPA Country Director, “I would like to express my appreciation to the Royal Thai Government for its goodwill and ardour to share its remarkable achievements in maternal health to other developing countries. Your decided commitment has led to the initiative to establish
    the Solution Network on Safe Motherhood through South-South Cooperation to end the preventable causes for maternal death. This goal is one of the three transformative results UNFPA is committed to achieve by the year 2030.”

 

Once again, the 4th TICA Connect has impressively reminded us that, through strong institutional leadership and commitment, and mutual appreciation of partnerships, South-South Cooperation can play a pivotal role in achieving the SDGs.

 

For South-South Cooperation to make a difference in the post-Buenos Aires plus 40, we in the UN should be able to applaud member states as UNFPA did with Thailand, and march together to ensure that “No One is Left Behind”.

 

Denis Nkala, Regional Coordinator/Representative of UNOSSC in Asia – Pacific Regional Office

 

 Photos: Courtesy of TICA