Panama - May 8 to 10, 2012
More than 300 people from 24 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean participate in the Knowledge from the South Fair, organized by the Government of Panama in collaboration with the United Nations System, coordinated by the UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Panama City, May 8th, 2012 – The Minister, in charge, of Foreign Relations, Francisco Álvarez De Soto, in the inauguration of the South-South Cooperation Fair, Knowledge from the South, reaffirmed that Panama aims to become a regional center of knowledge. “Thanks to its geographical position, its infrastructure, its stability and its dollarized economy, Panama has been the ideal place to establish the regional office of many entities. We are committed to put all of this accumulated experience to use in order to create the first humanitarian development center, which we intend to establish here.”
In regard to the Fair, Dr. Álvarez De Soto said that it is the perfect complement to the efforts being made by the Government in order to make Panama a meeting point for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. “This event that displays the different development initiatives in distinct areas that have been started throughout the region and that, if we promote the use of a tool such as South-South Cooperation, will demonstrate all that can be achieved in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
South-South Cooperation (SSC) refers to any process by which two or more developing countries acquire individual or collective capacities in different sectors, such as politics, economy, culture, social development or environment, through cooperative exchanges in knowledge, qualification, resources and know-how.
Mr. Niky Fabiancic, Deputy Director the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) referred to this kind of cooperation by emphasizing that the paradigm of international cooperation is changing in the same manner that the political and economic situation of the region is changing. "South-South Cooperation is taking on a vital importance, especially due to its capacity to provide technical support to countries of greatest need in an area of the planet on which most states have reached middle income status" he explained.
“We must work to improve the SSC processes, making them more accessible, viable and useful for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The more we help each other, the stronger our collective voice shall be globally. In this sense, the Fair provides a great opportunity to advance SSC agreements to ensure sustainable social development of the region”, added Mr. Fabiancic.
The United Nations officially began promoting technical cooperation among developing countries in 1974, year wherein the General Assembly issued a resolution to create a special unit within UNDP to take charge of these issues. Since then, this kind of horizontal cooperation has been acquiring more and more importance, and has become an important tool to achieve sustainable social development.
Yiping Zhou, the Director of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation highlighted the work they do to promote South-South Cooperation. "Our work analyzing policies and trends and formulating reports helps governments and United Nations entities to make informed decisions in terms of South-South Cooperation. We also help them identify, document, organize and disseminate the experiences of Southern countries, their knowledge about development and their solutions regarding the Millennium Development Goals in order to foster future exchanges and mutual learning. To date, we have assisted more than 60 organizations, both within the United Nations and other organizations, by creating a system including more than 5,000 experts in SSC and more than 300 experience based development solutions. At the same time, we support member states, the private sector and the United Nations with in the transfer of knowledge and technology between Southern countries, with mobilizing resources for this type of cooperation, acting as broker between countries that can offer experiences and countries looking for knowledge transfer.¨
The Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation, Jorge Arosemena, in his speech, referred to the 33 SSC experiences that have been selected to participate in the event. “Their cases were selected because they offered innovative solutions to specific development problems. We hope that through the platform offered by the City of Knowledge these experiences become available for public domain, that the knowledge behind them can be transferred and thus generate new development solutions in other countries of the region”.
The experiences presented at the Fair were selected by four thematic panels composed of a total of 14 experts from different areas. A final advisory committee worked to validate the decisions of the four panels and to ensure a certain geographic and thematic balance with respect to the selection. While these experiences are indicative of the wealth of SSC initiatives, they are not a comprehensive representation of the efforts that are being carried out in the region. “The scope of South-South Cooperation goes beyond what is shown here, but we were forced to be selective for logistical reasons,” said Mr. Fabiancic.
After all the inauguration speeches, the participants, led by the organizers of the Fair went to the exhibition area of the experiences, where they could observe the variety of the initiatives presented.
The Fair will close on Thursday May 10th, with a final statement which will define the acquired commitments and the future of cooperation in the region.