19 September 2021, Rome: The UN Rome-based agencies (RBAs) – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – today jointly celebrated the 2021 International Day for South-South Cooperation under the theme “Agrifood Systems Transformation and Voices from the Global South”.
Hosted by FAO, this year’s celebration focused on making voices from the Global South heard on their challenges, approaches and plans for agrifood systems transformation. Participants in the event discussed how to mobilise synergies, solutions, and skills from the Global South to make agrifood systems more inclusive and sustainable.
“The South is an increasingly dynamic source of ideas, solutions, knowledge and partnerships,” FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, said in a video message. “Together, we can offer the solutions based on priorities and pathways of the transformation of agrifood systems in the South, for the South and beyond the South.”
The celebration featured experiences and perspectives from India, Kenya and Uganda, as well as from the Latin America and Caribbean region, represented by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Highlighting a number of game-changing solutions that are particularly impactful for the Global South, the event also gave space to build a joint-RBA South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) agenda on agrifood systems transformation.
“We are reminded that implementing equitable and inclusive food systems will be practically impossible without effective cooperation among Southern countries,” said Ron Hartman, IFAD’s Director of Global Engagement, Partnerships and Resource Mobilisation. “With the collaboration of our partners, we will be able to replicate good practices and to scale-up research, innovation and advancements in information and digital technology to the benefit of vulnerable populations,” he added.
WFP’s Director of the Programme, Humanitarian and Development Division,, David Kaatrud, said, “We have come a long way since the early steps of the RBAs’ collaboration on SSTC. Our agencies are committed to ‘walk the talk’ in order to enhance the RBAs’ collaboration for SSTC to promote inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems transformation.”
RBA activities on South-South Cooperation
RBA SSTC activities have a catalytic and complementary role in coalescing synergies, solutions and skills. Sharing of knowledge, experiences, technologies, resources among countries in the Global South has an important role to play in bringing effective approaches for more sustainable and inclusive agrifood systems.
As a facilitator of SSTC, FAO brings together countries that have development solutions with other countries interested in applying them in similar contexts. FAO connects partners through its extensive country-level presence by facilitating dialogue, offering technical oversight, mobilising resources and increasing the visibility of SSTC initiatives.
Under the new SSTC Strategic Framework (2022-2025), FAO aims to expand its partnership base with a diverse group of countries in the Global South to mobilise adequate financial and technical resources to implement impactful SSTC programmes and initiatives.
“We need to be mindful of acting meaningfully and collectively,” cautioned Ye Anping, Director of FAO’s Division for SSTC.
Over the last ten years, SSTC at FAO has helped more than 70,000 direct grassroots beneficiaries in rural areas, and several hundred thousand indirect beneficiaries. Hundreds of affordable, scalable technological innovations have been adapted to local contexts, and 1,000 trainees from more than 100 countries have attended 48 high-level capacity development events, including study tours, training courses, workshops, seminars, expert meetings, policy dialogues, symposiums, and fora. More than 290 experts and technicians from China have been deployed in 12 countries, and FAO also has strong SST partnerships with Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico and the Netherlands, among others. FAO aims to expand its partnership base with diverse groups of countries and other actors including research institutes, centres of excellence, and the private sector.
IFAD believes that SSTC can and does play an essential role in the delivery of adaptive cooperation and peer-to-peer exchanges of knowledge and technology to improve agricultural productivity. As is reflected in the BAPA+40 outcome document, agriculture, food security, nutrition, and food safety are areas of mutual learning and coordination for South-South and Triangular cooperation.
IFAD-funded projects and grants have promoted SSTC as a key mechanism for delivering relevant, targeted and cost-effective development solutions and other resources to beneficiaries and partners across the globe. It is also this recognition that embeds SSTC as a commitment in the Fund’s 2016-2025 Strategic Framework.
WFP, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has a track record of working with countries when food systems are disrupted due to conflict, climate induced disasters or economic crises. Building on its global operational footprint, deep field presence in over 80 countries and strong expertise in humanitarian and development areas, WFP brokers SSTC to galvanise new, sustainable partnerships at all levels (global, regional, national) and promote country-led progress towards more resilient, inclusive and sustainable food systems.
Over the last decade, WFP has stepped up significantly as an SSTC broker in terms of (1) consolidating WFP’s global approach to SSTC, drawing on the findings from WFP’s Evaluation of the Global Policy on South-South Cooperation and WFP’s Global SSTC Task Force, as well as work on mainstreaming SSTC into WFP’s corporate strategies and systems, including the upcoming WFP Corporate Strategic Plan; and (2) supporting host governments to reach and create benefits for the most vulnerable people suffering from hunger and malnutrition across different regions through SSTC.
Since 2019, WFP has established a global partnership with China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) to roll out field-oriented SSTC pilot projects in Ecuador, Kenya, Peru, the Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka as part of WFP’s Global Field Pilot Initiative.