A Ringing endorsement and support for South-South cooperation and the South-South Network for Public service innovation by H.E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Honorable Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
On 17 February 2021, over 100 participants across the world joined the virtual launching ceremony of the “South-South Matchmaker, 2019-2020 Best Practices”, a publication prepared by the Secretariat of the South-South Network for Public Service Innovation (SSN4PSI). The event was co-organised by the South-South Network for Public Service Innovation Secretariat; Aspire to Innovate (a2i)/the Government of Bangladesh; The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
During the launch, H.E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Honorable Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, who is also a former President of the UN High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, delivered his belief on the usefulness of South-South cooperation and applauded achievements of the Network.
“There have been substantial contributions from the South in terms of trade, investment development cooperation and technology innovation. The scope of South-South cooperation has expanded from the technical field to economic, social, cultural, technological, environmental and even the political domain. The South is now called to redefine the international development cooperation structure,” he said. The Minister noted that South-South Cooperation is a significant contributor to the implementation of the transformative 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s. He noted that the Government of Bangladesh has included South-South cooperation in its national policy for development cooperation.
The Minister also recollected his time working with UNOSSC as the Bangladesh Representative to the United Nations and President of the High-Level Committee (HLC). He stressed the belief he held then and now on borderless sharing of knowledge and ideas among the Southern Nations through a dedicated platform. He recalled efforts to that end including Bangladesh’s highlighting the importance of South-South cooperation in the implementation of the 2030 agenda at the “High-level meeting on South-South and triangular cooperation in the post sustainable development agenda, financing for development in the South and technology transfer” which was hosted by Bangladesh in Dhaka in May 2015. Furthermore, at BAPA+40 in Buenos Aires in 2019, he had announced that Bangladesh will set up a South-South knowledge and Innovation Centre. He noted that his faith on South-South cooperation stemmed from Bangladesh’s experience. “In 2010, UNDP and Bangladesh did a study and found out that to achieve all the MDG goals, it would require $78 billion investment for the five-year period. Bangladesh used its own homegrown innovations and technology resulting in expenditure of only $9 per person to achieve the results”. He further noted that the innovations by Bangladesh were inspired by South-South innovation and sharing. Another example he gave was Bangladesh’s lofty standing in climate disaster preparedness.
He noted that he had seen South-South cooperation in action during the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The knowledge sharing process among countries emerged to be very practical and functional more than ever before. We have witnessed a borderless approach to a virtual medium to manage the common challenges and replicate success cases among the developing nations,” he said.
Hon. Minister Momen said that today in development thinking there is more emphasis on growth through human development rather than economic development and added that, “it is the right design to remedy the effects of poverty, health and economic inequality, unfair trade rules and the negative economic consequences of trade liberalization or globalization in developing countries”. As a result, he emphasized, we need stronger South-South cooperation to establish these human rights. “This is even more valid after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, as this unprecedented global health and economic crisis calls for an equally global and exceptional concerted policy response,” he added.
His final comments were pointed at the achievements of the SSN4PSI. He said it was a remarkable achievement that it had connected 39 countries. “The strong partnership among the 39 countries to mitigate their common challenges should be an example to the other nations worldwide”. He encouraged other LDCs, LLDC’s and SIDS to come under the same umbrella by joining the South-South Network for Public Service Innovation and to help each other through knowledge sharing. He strongly recommended to engage the private sector in the efforts and the activities of the Network.
The Hon. Minister stated that the Government of Bangladesh, especially the Foreign Ministry, will always remain as the strongest supporter of South-South Cooperation and provide the support to expand the Network to more countries globally. He requested the UN Office for South-South Cooperation to continue its collaboration with the Network. He pledged that the Foreign Ministry and its Missions will ensure all the support from their end to the UN Office for South-South Cooperation and the SSN4PSI for Public Service Innovation and collaboration in advancing South-South Cooperation.
The Minister also opined that for the recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic, South-South cooperation is not only a vital means of cooperation because of similar situations and capacities in the developing countries, but, that sometimes it may be the most effective way.