SDG 17 Global Partnerships Roundtable South-South and triangular Cooperation at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2021

Mr. Denis Nkala, UNOSSC Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific moderates the Roundtable

On 24 March 2021 more than 60 participants took part in a virtual SDG 17 Global Partnerships Roundtable. The participants were from the governmental sector, civil society organizations, private sector, and academia. The roundtable was jointly organized by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)’s regional office in Asia and the Pacific, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women, as a part of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2021.

Mr. Denis Nkala, UNOSSC Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, moderated the panel discussion. The discussion was led by a presentation on the progress made towards achieving the indicators of Goal 17 by Ms. Gemma Van Halderen, Director of Statistics Division in ESCAP. Ms. Van Halderen’s presentation highlighted that if the Asia-Pacific Region continues with “business as usual”, it will not achieve any targets for SDG 17 by 2030.

Following the presentation, four panel speakers from the governmental sector, civil society organisations, private sector and academia delivered their views on the presentation and their own perspectives on how to achieve targets for SDG 17. The speakers were (1) Ms. Lilybeth R. Deapera, Chair-Alternate, Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines (TCCP); (2) Mr. Ali Jilani, Vice Chair of the Karachi Research Chair (KRC); (3) Mr. Darwin Djajawinata, Director for Operations and Finance (CFO), PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (Persero), Indonesia; and (4) Prof. Huadong Guo, Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth.

After the plenary session, participants headed to four break-out rooms and discussed the proposed policy recommendations under SDG 17. These breakout rooms were (1) Partnerships and International Cooperation-facilitated by UNOSSC; (2) Data, Monitoring and Accountability-facilitated by ESCAP Statistics Division; (3) Financing for Development-facilitated by ESCAP Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Division; and (4) Trade and Innovation-facilitated by ESCAP Trade, Investment and Innovation Division.

The Partnership and International Cooperation breakout room focused on South-South and triangular cooperation.  Mr. Nkala mentioned that South-South and triangular cooperation offer opportunities to focus on countries and communities that are at risk of being left behind. His reasons for that stance were that, with COVID 19 and the growing digitalization gap, South-South and triangular cooperation offered the alternative path from business as usual. His rationale for this stance was that South-South cooperation was born from the need to bring up countries left behind, that Asia-Pacific has varying typologies of countries enabling dissemination and adaptation of knowledge between countries, that Asia-Pacific has countries that have bridged the middle-income trap and lastly, that there are examples of countries that have utilized South-South knowledge to accelerate their development. On the basis of these facts, he recommended that the region redouble its efforts in scaling up South-South and triangular cooperation.

The discussants generally welcomed the recommendation to scale up South-South and triangular cooperation. Nevertheless, they emphasized the need to reiterate that North-South Cooperation is important and in particular, that the target of developed countries channeling 0.7% of GDP to development assistance is necessary to achieve the SDGs.

Back in plenary, the UNESCAP Director for Statistics summarized the appreciation for the various contributors in plenary and breakout rooms. “The 2030 Agenda is our compass and voices like yours are our inspiration,” she said.