Thank you, Mr. President.
At the outset, I would like to convey my Government’s sincere appreciation to the Government of Argentina for hosting this Second UN High Level Conference on South- South Cooperation (SSC) in this historic city, Buenos Aires, and I thank them for their warm hospitality.
My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by State of Palestine as Chair of G77.
Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) was a major milestone in the evolution of South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Its principles put the SSC on a strong foundation. When I served as the President of the UN High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation in New York I tried to foster the spirit of BAPA in the work of the Committee. This commemorative conference gives us the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to BAPA and let us carry forward its message through our collective actions.
In principle, SSC is aimed at complementing North-South Cooperation and not a substitute of it, yet in reality the North-South Cooperation has been declining and failing to live up to its promise while the importance of SSC as an effective form of development cooperation has been growing substantially. In fact, the scope of SSC has expanded from technical fields to economic, social, cultural, technological, environmental and even political domains.
There has been substantial contribution from the South in terms of trade, credit, investment, development cooperation and technological innovations. Currently, South-South accounts for half of the global GDP; its trade almost doubled, and overall consumption in South by 2025 will exceed 30 trillion USD. At times, innovations and technology available in the South are more affordable and appropriate to the needs also.
Evidently, the South is now poised to redefine international development cooperation structure. We have the confidence that SSC would significantly contribute to the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. I may recall here that Bangladesh highlighted the importance of SSC in the mobilization of resources both financing and technology transfer in context to implementation of the 2030 Agenda even before its adoption in September 2015 at the “High Level Meeting on South-South and Triangular Cooperation: Financing for Development and Technology Transfer” in the South that it hosted in Dhaka in May 2015.
South-South and Triangular Cooperation is considered as an important and effective cooperation mechanism in the development trajectory of Bangladesh. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we are now implementing our national development Vision 2021 to achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2021 and Vision 2041 aims at transforming the country into a ‘Sonar Bangla’, a developed country by 2041. We are in the process of graduation from the LDC category and we are conscious that this transition would force us to face new set of challenges as a middle-income country. As we embark on that journey, we wish to harness the potential of SSC to address our huge development needs and challenges.
We have included SSC in our National Policy for Development Cooperation. The Access to Information (A2I) programme of Bangladesh is currently leading three platforms following SSC approaches to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experiences and best practices and find innovative solutions: South-South Network for Public Service Innovation, Alliance for Asian Apprenticeship, and South-Asia Civil Registration Network.
The UN Global Publication on Best Practices has incorporated 5 innovative development solutions of Bangladesh which are Union Digital Centre, SDG Tracker, Empathy Training, Service Innovation Fund and Time Cost Visit Model of public service delivery. We have laid out our vision to utilize SSC in implementing SDGs in our publication “South South Cooperation for Financing SDGs” and have shared it with the concerned national and international stakeholders. This publication outlines potentials of financing SDGs and in addition, highlights 48 successful cases of the South that are adoptable in other Southern countries. The UNOSSC publication “South-South in Action: Citizen Friendly Public Service Innovation in Bangladesh” tells our success in ensuring good governance. We are also trying to facilitate match-making with other southern partners who excelled in different areas as we put 22 best practices from different countries in a report entitled ‘The South- South Match Maker’.
Before I conclude, I would like to share with you some of our thoughts and plans to promote SSC:
First, we want to share our experiences in various social and economic sectors, such as education, agriculture, public health, and governance by setting up a “South-South Knowledge and Innovation Centre” in Bangladesh. Through the Centre, Bangladesh and other countries would be able to co-create solutions addressing challenges they face in advancing technology transformation, particularly emanating from 4IR, share their innovative practices and identify experiences which could be transferred, replicated and scaled up.
Second, there is lot of potentials in the South-South countries, unfortunately, these have neither been correctly articulated or explored yet, nor the critical issues of the Southern countries are fully evaluated. Therefore, Bangladesh proposes to establish a Forum of Development, Finance, Economic and Foreign Ministers of the Southern countries to discuss, dialogue, and explore the potentials of the Southern countries, the critical issues of the South in context to achieving SDGs. Our honorable Finance Minister sent out letters to his counterparts as early as 2016 and I am pleased, there has been lot of positive response. Now may I ask the membership to establish it quickly?
Third, the availability of finance, technology and support for capacity building would advance SSC manifold. This framework needs to identify the comparative advantages of the global South and harness those to address the common challenges. The development partners including the UN development system should provide stronger support to the countries so that they can take the benefits of regional integration being undertaken through different initiatives to accelerate the pace of development in their respective countries. To exchange our views on these and create a momentum in our actions, a forum of relevant Ministers [Finance/ Foreign/ Development Ministers] of the South can be created. I am planning to write letters to the concerned ministers elaborating the purpose, objectives and scopes of the proposed Forum.
Fourth, the Diaspora of the South is expanding in different countries. This diaspora possesses wealth of knowledge and experience contributing immensely to the development including the advancement of technology in the host countries. The South-South Cooperation should provide them a platform to work closely in their countries of origin and play a more meaningful role in the development of those countries.
The foreign policy of Bangladesh is geared to pursue ‘economic diplomacy’ and through the framework of South- South and Triangular Cooperation we aspire to strengthen strategic partnership with the emerging economies and also with our traditional development partners. I have no doubt that through rock-solid partnership, we are sure to achieve our goals.
I thank you.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu