South-South and Triangular Cooperation

[South-South and Triangular Cooperation]

Current Challenges

South-South cooperation involves a developing country that excels in certain domains providing assistance to foster the development of another developing country. JICA defines South-South cooperation as "mutual collaboration among developing countries, fostering self-sustainable development while strengthening ties and engaging in technical and economic cooperation."

Meanwhile, triangular cooperation refers to developed countries and international organizations providing support in the form of financial, technological, and management assistance, etc., to facilitate the aforementioned South-South cooperation.

In SDGs Goal 17 (Partnerships for the goals), South-South and triangular cooperation is explicitly recognized as a crucial means for achieving the SDGs. This is because amidst the diversification and complexity of development challenges, many problems exist that cannot be solved solely by developed countries or international organizations, necessitating global initiatives. For instance, in the case of cooperation among developing countries, it is said that similarities in language, culture, and climate, as well as recent development experience as fellow developing countries, contribute to the seamless transfer of suitable technology and sustainable development.

Moreover, with the rapid development of emerging countries in recent years, the increase in new supporters from developing and emerging countries adds to the number of global partners addressing these issues. Additionally, as developing countries embrace South-South cooperation, they shift from being recipients of aid to becoming contributors, accumulating expertise and experience as donor countries. As a result, they not only play a role as members of the international community but also gain confidence and capabilities in fostering their own development. Developed countries and international organizations, among others, are leveraging their own experience in international cooperation to facilitate triangular cooperation and support these new collaborative efforts between partner countries.

JICA’s Policy

Japan began its international cooperation by joining the Colombo Plan in 1954, and its initiation of overseas assistance during the post-war recovery and reconstruction period is considered a precursor to South-South cooperation. Subsequently, Japan has been a pioneer in recognizing and implementing the effectiveness of South-South and triangular cooperation, initiating third-country training with Thailand in 1975 as the first form of triangular cooperation.
The revised Development Cooperation Charter of 2015 explicitly states, "In implementing development cooperation, it is also important to take advantage of expertise, human resources and their networks, and other assets that have been accumulated in the recipient countries during the many years of Japan's development cooperation. Japan's triangular cooperation involving emerging and other countries capitalizes on such assets. In view of the high regard held by the international community, Japan will continue to promote triangular cooperation." In addition, the Japanese government has entered into partnership programs with 12 countries (Thailand, Singapore, Egypt, Tunisia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines, Mexico, Morocco, Indonesia, and Jordan) as part of a comprehensive framework to jointly support the development efforts of other developing countries and regions in collaboration with their governments.
Furthermore, JICA, in response to such government policies, established the policy of "strengthening partnerships and sharing experiences with emerging donors, including through the use of triangular cooperation methods" in its 4th Medium-term Plan (Fiscal 2017-2022). Additionally, JICA actively engages in triangular cooperation by organizing initiatives and priority areas by region in its issue-specific guidelines. In FY2017, the total number of participants in the Third Country Training Programme was 3,055. In terms of regional breakdown, the Middle East had the highest number, followed by Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.

International Community and Development Cooperation Trends

South-South cooperation has its roots in the era of heightened Cold War tensions, promoted as "solidarity among the South" during that time. At the 1955 Asian-African Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, developing countries from Asia and Africa expressed their intention to address development issues through solidarity with other developing countries. Furthermore, at the 1978 United Nations Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, "The Buenos Aires Plan of Action" (BAPA) was adopted to facilitate technical cooperation among developing countries, consisting of 38 specific measures and playing a pivotal role in the subsequent expansion of South-South cooperation. Japan, which participated in the Bandung Conference and, as mentioned above, initiated triangular cooperation in 1975, is internationally recognized for playing a pioneering role in South-South and triangular cooperation.

With the end of the Cold War, the nature of South-South cooperation evolved, expanding in scale with the rise of emerging countries. Internationally, the idea that South-South and triangular cooperation differs from traditional ODA provided by developed countries remains strong. Nevertheless, the increasing significance of emerging donors and South-South/triangular cooperation is recognized in the context of achieving the SDGs. In March 2019, the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (40th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action: BAPA+40) was held in Buenos Aires, and it was agreed that a new framework for South-South cooperation, including triangular cooperation, needed to be established . Furthermore, discussions on triangular cooperation are advancing under the “Global Partnership Initiative on Effective Triangular Co-operation (GPI)” within the framework of the “Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC),” a platform that goes beyond the aid framework between developed and developing countries to include diverse actors such as emerging countries, ordinary citizens, and private enterprises.

JICA, with its extensive experience and knowledge, is actively engaged in expanding dialogue with emerging donors, sharing practical experiences in relation to the BAPA+40 outcome document, utilizing the GPI to establish frameworks for international cooperation with a focus on triangular cooperation, and proactively sharing good practices and lessons learned at settings like international conferences.

Links to websites of relevant donors, ministries, and agencies