Source: Small Island Developing States
Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. At stake are recent gains in the fights against poverty, hunger and disease, and the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the global South.
Despite international commitment to climate action, there is much work to do. Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related frameworks such as the Paris Agreement on climate change will require engagement from all stakeholders, at all levels and in all countries, leveraging their diverse and unique advantages.
“We need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said during the 2019 Climate Action Summit in September. “We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”
The Secretary-General took the opportunity of the Buenos Aires High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation to emphasize that crosscutting South-South collaboration is central to implementing the Paris Agreement.
Southern populations, including those in the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), have been those most intensely affected by a changing climate. As such, adaptation and mitigation are not new practices in the South.
For example, the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation, working together with China and the Netherlands, is fostering the industrial use of low-emission climate-resilient bamboo in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. India has been leading the world in its pursuit of enhanced solar energy capacity through the International Solar Alliance. BioInnovate Africa is developing a gel fuel from local organic fruit waste as an affordable and low-carbon emission alternative to firewood and charcoal. In Latin America, Santiago´s resilience office in Chile is working with its Mexico City counterpart to prepare risk maps for their respective communities.
Scaling up South-South and triangular cooperation, as a complement to North-South cooperation, is vital for impactful climate action.
Increasingly, the countries of the South are looking to the UN system for support to expand and capitalize on the potential of their successes. Over 20 UN entities, including the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), are collaborating with China to ensure the sustainability and the “greening” of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The India-UN Development Partnership Fund, among 40+ projects, is supporting seven Pacific island countries to develop climate early warning systems, together with relevant UN counterparts. UNOSSC is leading and coordinating the implementation of the South-South Cooperation Action Plan of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Engagement Strategy. In this context, UNOSSC has created the South-South Galaxy global knowledge-sharing and partnership-brokering platform, enabling the sharing of homegrown, contextually appropriate solutions in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding.
I look forward to co-hosting the annual High-Level Forum on South-South Cooperation on Climate Change during the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain, on 11 December, and call on all development partners to join forces for advancing this important agenda together.
At the Forum we will showcase how bioeconomy and successful South-South and triangular cooperation contribute to the achievement of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets in developing countries. We will discuss bamboo as a substitute for plastics and scale up city-to-city partnerships to share evidence-based demand-driven good practices.
It is now time for the global community to move from ambition to action. The UN Office for South-South Cooperation stands ready to engage with all partners to ensure that South-South and triangular partnerships are supported towards building an equitable and sustainable future.
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This article was written by by Jorge Chediek, Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation and Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation.