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South-South and Triangular Cooperation Should Support the Forging of a Better and More Egalitarian Multilateralism, Especially in Times of COVID-19: Alicia Bárcena

1 June 2021|News

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary participated in a side event to the 20th session of the United Nations High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation.

We urgently need a new political and social compact at a national, regional and global level and, in that framework, South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation must be some of the main tools for achieving a better and more egalitarian multilateralism, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said today during an event organized on the sidelines of the 20th session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (June 1-4).

Bárcena was one of the panelists at the event entitled The United Nations and the scaling up of South-South and triangular cooperation to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, organized by the Government of Lithuania, in its role as Vice-President of the Bureau of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fostered South-South cooperation efforts, while exposing the weaknesses of triangular cooperation, especially in terms of equitable access to vaccines, ECLAC’s highest authority stated at the side event. It is essential that we give mechanisms such as COVAX more consideration, she indicated.

During her presentation, Bárcena shared some of the efforts that the five United Nations regional commissions have deployed to bolster South-South and triangular cooperation.

“The regional commissions have intergovernmental platforms that serve as multi-stakeholder forums for policy and technical dialogue,” the senior official emphasized. As concrete examples of ECLAC’s support, Bárcena mentioned the annual holding of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development and the implementation of the Regional Knowledge Management Platform on the 2030 Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean (SDG Gateway), a contribution of the United Nations System in the region.

The Executive Secretary also emphasized the contribution of ECLAC’s Committee on South-South Cooperation, which she described as “a very good platform for cooperation agencies from Latin American and Caribbean countries to meet and share their experiences,” particularly considering that, having been classified as middle income, the region’s countries are excluded from international financial cooperation on concessional terms. “This is a major problem for the countries of the Caribbean, although it also affects nations in other regions, such as Asia and Africa,” she noted.

Precisely in response to these limitations, Bárcena recalled that ECLAC, the European Commission, the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and other partners, have created the concept of “Development in Transition,” which proposes a paradigm shift in cooperation for development that would take into account, for example, countries’ distinct vulnerabilities and structural gaps, and not just their per capita income.

“We need to build better measures of development and cooperation progress. What does it mean to collaborate and cooperate? We need to mobilize resources corresponding to the size of the economy, and countries’ structural characteristics and degree of international insertion. We really need to rethink the development and cooperation model,” she indicated.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean, we are facing a lost decade in economic and social terms. We are experiencing an increase in poverty and inequality, and discontent is growing. How are we going to regain people’s trust around the idea that we are capable of advancing on solidarity and on a transformative, sustainable and green recovery from COVID-19, and that we are capable of building intergenerational equality, if the donor-recipient formula is no longer working? We need to move in a new direction, and at the United Nations we have the instruments to do so,” she concluded.

The event also featured the participation of Dalia Salkauskiene, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations; Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations and President of the 74th session of the General Assembly; Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean and for Relations with all Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships; Simona Marinescu, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau; and Arthur Eken, of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); with Brian Williams, of the United Nations Development Coordination Office (DCO), serving as moderator.

The High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation is a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly that meets every two years to review progress and provide policy guidance that helps strengthen international support for such cooperation. The session this year is the first that the Committee has held since the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40), which took place in 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.