Opening remarks at the International Day for South-South Cooperation
Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator
12 September 2018
- Distinguished guests,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to the UN Compound and the commemoration event for the International Day for South-South Cooperation, which this year will focus specifically on China – Africa cooperation. I am delighted to see so many colleagues from the Government of China, Embassies, and the UN agencies, in the audience.
Last week as many as 40 Presidents and 10 Prime Ministers from African countries along with representatives from 26 international and regional organizations gathered here in Beijing for the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation. The high-level interest in the Summit and the ambitious plans laid out during it, are illustrations of how the collaboration between China and Africa has been strengthened in recent years.
As Mr. Wang Yi, China’s Minister for Foreign Affairs recently put it, FOCAC has become “a key platform for the collective dialogue and cooperation between China and African countries”. As such it has also become a key platform for South-South Cooperation more broadly.
Last week’s Summit was also an illustration of how much South-South Cooperation has evolved since the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, in 1978. This plan laid the foundation for cooperation among developing countries. However, the cooperation was narrowly focused on technological industrial cooperation.
The eight cooperation initiatives announced by President Xi during FOCAC, on the other hand, cover the whole spectrum of development: industrialization and infrastructure; financial services; green development; poverty reduction; public welfare; public health; people-to-people exchange; and peace and security.
The increase and expansion of South-South Cooperation is welcome. As long as it is conducted between partners on equal footing, adheres to the principles of the UN Charter, and other agreed international norms and conventions, it can benefit people’s lives and contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as regional development agendas such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
When the UN Secretary General spoke at the opening of the FOCAC he mentioned five areas that will be crucial for the success of China – Africa development cooperation.
First, he spoke about reinforcing the foundations of Africa’s progress, through support to infrastructure development, trade capacity, and national data systems. Second, he emphasized the importance of ensuring national ownership and African-led sustainable development. Third, he noted the importance of South-South Cooperation for fair globalization, but that this does not eliminate the need to implement North-South Commitments. Fourth, he underlined the necessity of promoting sustainable fiscal policies, to guarantee fiscal sustainability of African development. And fifth, he highlighted the important role China can play in sharing its climate solutions with African countries to enable the continent to leapfrog traditional polluting development in favor of green growth.
In essence, all of the areas mentioned by the Secretary General relates to ensuring sustainability in China – Africa collaborations. Sustainability from a social, financial and environmental perspective. This is also the basis for the UNs support to South – South Cooperation including China – Africa cooperation.
Let me take the UNs commitment to support China’s Belt and Road Initiative as an example. During the Belt and Road Forum last year more than 15 UN agencies signed various types of agreement with Chinese partners. At the heart of all of these agreements is the commitment of both sides to cooperate to ensure sustainability, both social and environmental in China’s foreign engagements, including in Africa.
The UN is committed to fulfill this role by providing support both to the recipients of China’s investments as well as to Chinese investors.
The UN’s country offices in Africa supports strengthening of governance and institutional capacities to ensure country ownership and leadership that fully responds to the needs and aspirations of Africa’s people. In addition, our country offices help strengthen the capacity of policymakers on the recipient side to enforce social and environmental sustainability principles and practices throughout the investment cycle.
Here in China we are committed to continue our work with Chinese partners to share international experiences from development cooperation, support the formulation and implementation of Chinese funded development projects, and promote the implementation of sustainable development practices in investments.
Furthermore, through our global network, the UN can play an important role in China – Africa collaboration in terms of acting as a facilitator and a bridge between Chinese and African partners.
However, in the end China and Africa collaborations are based on bilateral partnerships between sovereign states and today I look forward to hear from our speakers on their takes on the recent FOCAC Summit and what it will mean for the future of China – Africa collaboration.