The Need for South-South Cooperation
The populations living in the Southern Hemisphere account for a majority of global population. As an important forum for discussion on economic and developmental policies in the Southern Hemisphere, the G77, plays a key factor in ensuring economic growth in this part of the world. In previous years, international communities have used key tools such as cooperation, coordination, bilateral and multilateral agreements to meet their development goals. However, compared with most regions, the Southern Hemisphere is way behind in development. The reasons for this gap varie from colonial control, to poor policies and framework for development. Lagging heavily in development, the need to strengthen the institutional framework for South-South Cooperation is imperative.
The need for South-South Cooperation
The conflicting political and social situation between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres has created a “North-South” divide. The Global North is comprised of North America, Western Europe followed by the developed countries of East Asia, whereas the Global South encompasses Africa, Latin America, and the developing economies of Asia and the Middle East.
Economically, the North controls over one-fifth of the entire population and four fifths of the global world economy. Most of the industries and production companies have their headquarters in the North. Whereas the South is comprised of one third of the developing economies and one-fifth of the world economy. This “gap in development” has instigated a series of issues in the South.
Due to poor participation in industrialization and ineffective production capacity, the global South could not meet the Millennium Development Goals. In spite of heavy dependence on global trade, the least developed economies in the South failed to benefit from trade partnerships due to poverty and unemployment. More importantly, there is a huge gap even in the Human Development Index between the North and the South, which has forced many developing and developed economies to question the role of international agencies such as the UN, which is, in the first place, tasked to reinforce concrete institutional policies and a framework for development.
Indeed, South-South Cooperation is one of the most effective ways to ensure development and alleviate poverty in the South as it decreases the dependency on donor countries in the north and heavily supports self-reliance through innovation and technology while strengthening local and regional partners in development. It is also important to understand that local partners and agencies do not impose sanctions or ask for better policies, and, as a matter of fact, they do not ask for policies which focus on development that would adversely affect North-South Cooperation.
Hence, it is a productive plan to ensure development and progressive economic growth without becoming dependent on the north.
Creating a Concrete Institutional Framework
The importance of South-South Cooperation is very clear, however, the need for an institutional framework for an effective SSC remains a challenge. Creating a viable institutional reform for SSC is not easy. The concrete policy will address some major challenges which need to be addressed through several international forums and United Nations resolutions.
With a fragile world economy, SSC will be able to work independently and to reinforce the need for sophisticated, strong global governance which will also allow its smooth operation. Also, South-South trade is regional and there is a need to restructure and reinforce the regional trade agreements (RTAs) between developing economies. This will further strengthen economic progress. However, policy makers need to keep an eye out for regional integration policies which have successfully been implemented in other parts of the world.
There is no process whereby higher incomes automatically convert a developing economy to a developed one. The challenge for policy makers today is to ensure globalization at all levels which will then fill the cracks in development. Moreover, the growing marginalization in developing economies cannot be ignored, especially in the least economically developed countries. Policy makers need to carefully and immediately address this situation as well.
Additionally, globalization has made a number of the least developed economies vulnerable, especially when these economies are trying to integrate their markets into the Global economy. This is clear from the very recent financial crisis. The South is volatile and vulnerable and hence, unable to become a major attraction for FDI. It is also important to note that, globalization and stability go hand in hand. Policy makers should focus their attention on international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) which can play a huge role in promoting globalization with South-friends. Regional unions also have the potential of ensuring the same.
Ensuring the progress of Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals were established right after completion of the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals which were pledged by the then member nations at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 which was followed by the adoption of the then United Nations Millennium Declaration. They ended in 2015. With regional contraction and lack of infrastructure management, nations failed to meet the goals. Following the deadline, member nations again came together to discuss next step for the MDG’s, thus the foundations for Sustainable Development Goals were set.
Sustainable development goals are concentrated on poverty alleviation. The only way SSC can achieve this goal is by strengthening financial management techniques which will effectively manage the South-South bilateral and triangular partnerships. Some recent examples include the $30 million Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) trust fund for South-South cooperation in support with China to assist a few African countries; another example is the India-Brazil-South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation followed by the UNESCO South-South Cooperation Fund to assist the South-South cooperation program for education, which focusses on meeting the goal of “education for all” and other Sustainable Development Goals through knowledge sharing, resource gathering and experience.
Ensuring Economic Growth
Achieving the required economic growth is one way to reduce the development gap between the North and the South. Policy makers need to reinforce the regional economic policies which will further reinforce growth. The solution becomes a little tricky especially for landlocked developing and economically underdeveloped economies. Identifying variable transit arrangements becomes a challenge and policy makers need to address this challenge by creating new policies for bilateral agreements in order to enhance the efficiency of transit trade.
Economic Cooperation between developing economies plays an important role in maintaining necessary multilateral relations between the member nations of the South. These are further reinforced with wide expertise in broad fields, necessary technical expertise and exchange of knowledge. These provide necessary economic progress. Inadequate financial aid has been haunting the developing economies of the South for long. In order to create progressive economic growth at all levels, policy makers need to focus their attention on creating lucrative proposals to establish a South-South Monetary Group, or a South-South Economic and Social Development Fund. It is also important to look at reinforcing triangular cooperation. Today, China has emerged as the largest donor among the nations in the South. As a matter of fact, China has exceeded the amount of resources provided to the South, leaving behind other BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa) nations.
Fostering North-South Relations
North-South Cooperation is complimentary to the SSC. Experts say that “between 1996 and 2009, South-South trade increased phenomenally by 12% per year, almost double than the North-South Cooperation.” Thus, policy makers need to address strengthening North-South relations.
One such example is the G20, which created a multi-year development plan, focussing on the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation as a necessary tool for growth and development followed by exchange of information and local mobilization of resources for sustainable development.
Along with fostering North-South Cooperation, policy makers should first address the laws and regulations which create mistrust and controversies between private entities and the government. Poor trade laws and intimidating economic pressure, followed by discrepancies in international laws, and challenges in the multi trading system should be effectively and efficiently addressed. Economic sanctions adversely affect human populations and hinder the development capacity of developing and underdeveloped economies.
South-South Cooperation opened economic opportunities in transportation and energy which have been critical for development. One good example of SSC is the Benin-Bhutan-Costa Rica program. These nations extensively shared their knowledge and through technical expertise, they have been actively contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and are involved in long term projects for development over a time span of five years. These include cooperation in Sustainable Development, climate change and efficiently using energy. The program included over 36 projects in wide fields. However, one successful case does not mean that more improvement is not necessary.
Nations need to understand the importance of constitutionalising South-South Cooperation in order to make it more efficient and successful. Policy makers should promote FDI, trade policies need to be reframed and strengthened and new and innovative ways to implement programs in the SSC need to be created. Southern countries need to ensure promotion and coordination with their southern partners and parallel North-South cooperation is also important. Moreover, policy makers should address the challenges of financing and reinforce their initiatives with concrete policies.