#GSSD expo focuses on future international development

| December 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

“In 2016, Turkey spent six billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance, thus becoming the second largest humanitarian aid provider in the world following the US (compared to its gross national income). We are aiming to be the first in the world in the near future,” said Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Çavuşoğlu was speaking at the opening ceremony of the UN Global South-South Development EXPO (GSSD) 2017 organised by the United Nations Office for South-South Co-operation (UNOSSC) and hosted by the government of Turkey, writes Eli Hadzhieva, director of the Brussels-based Dialogue for Europe.

Eli Hadzhieva, Director of the Brussels-based Dialogue for Europe

The event brought together 800 participants from public and private sectors, academia and civil society representing 25 UN organizations and 120 countries in Antalya.

“Turkey has been providing development aid to Afghanistan since the 1920s, but Afghanistan has still not reached the capacity to ensure its own security. This is worrying,” he added.

Çavuşoğlu went on to highlight his country’s continuous efforts to provide aid to some 120 countries around the world, including the recent opening of the UN-Turkey Technology Bank for the Least Developing Countries in Gebze last September.

The Envoy of the UN Secretary General on South-South Cooperation and Director of UNOSSC Jorge Chediek flagged that the Expo provided multi-stakeholders a platform to produce collective input in the lead up to the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires in March 2019.

The 2019 event will mark the 40th anniversary of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.

Chediek further noted that the South-South cooperation, which is complementary to the North-South cooperation, “relies on solidarity expressed in concrete and demonstrable sharing of technical know-how, experience and resources among developing countries”.

Mario Pezzini (OECD) pointed to the changing development landscape, with 50% of the southern countries expected to produce half of the world’s GDP by 2025 and stressed the need embrace the development complexity of countries, to achieve general structural change and productive transformation (e.g. China’s Belt and Road Initiative) and to involve multiple stakeholders to chart the future of international development.

Magdy Martinez-Soliman, from the UNDP, underlined that South-South trade reached a historic height exceeding North-South or North-North trade and commended Southern multinational groups for driving change towards meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including poverty, climate change, water and biodiversity.

She added: “South-South cooperation needs to be the kind of alliance that creates jobs and that promotes regional integration.”

Ambassador Ramil Hasanov, Secretary-General of the Turkic Council (representing Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) reflected that his organization has been vocal to promote regional cooperation and to produce development solutions, which are exemplary for the rest of the world and reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to support South-South and triangular cooperation in the region in co-operation with the UNOSSC with the aim of leaving no one behind.

With 37 plenary sessions and side events, including 11 thematic solutions fora and three leadership round tables, the 9th Global South-South Cooperation Expo addressed numerous global development challenges, such as climate change, peace-building, private sector engagement, innovation, big data, youth employment and women’s empowerment.

58 booths and none newly launched initiatives, such as the South-South Global Thinkers Initiative, provided a window of opportunity to share know-how and to build bridges and partnerships between national governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations in the development area.

Regional co-operation organizations, such as the Turkic Council, which received the GSSD 2017 Appreciation Award during the closing ceremony of the Expo last week, played a big role in showcasing best practices of South-South cooperation.

In a panel on the final day of the Expo, Turkic Council Secretary-General Ömer Kocaman said: “We have to make sure that the triangular approach responds to the concrete needs of the countries and doesn’t become a top-down approach.”

“Developing countries have similar problems and they come up with similar solutions to address them,” he added, pointing out the co-operation among the Turkic-speaking states in various areas, including capacity building in the public sector, transport, culture and tourism.

Kocaman put particular emphasis on the Turkic Council Modern Silk Road Project, expected to bring more than one million tourists to the Turkic Council Member States and its neighbours. The Turkic Council Modern Silk Road Joint Tour Package was also the main theme of one of the three photo exhibits within the Expo, which was launched by Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu.

Turkey, which is the world’s largest refugee host with 3.5 million, became the second UN member state to host the Expo, which was launched in New York in partnership with the UNDP in 2008.

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