The Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) is an annual event organized by the UN System to showcase innovative solutions that have proven effective in one country and have been successfully replicated and adapted to other countries from the Global South. In the framework of this event, the ILO organizes an annual “Solution Forum” which focuses on decent-work solutions devised by governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations from the Global South.
Since I started working on South-South Cooperation at the ILO in 2005, we have been actively promoting these kinds of exchanges between countries from the South. Brazil, for example, has been an active development partner for the ILO, supporting cooperation programmes mainly in Latin America and Africa.
As years passed, China, India and South Africa also joined forces to promote South-South Cooperation. The ILO signed a declaration of intent with the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) in 2010 and is supporting work with the BRICS countries. We’re also working more with regional and inter-regional groups such as MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market) in Latin America, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Caribbean Community. The idea is to enhance horizontal exchanges.
At this year’s Global South South Development Expo (OAS, November 2014), the ILO Solution Forum will address an important issue for the ILO, which is the promotion of Social Protection Floors, the prevention and elimination of child labour, along with cooperation between countries in a situation of fragility (“Fragile-to-Fragile” Cooperation), and social and solidarity economy.
The IBSA trilateral development initiative has been a major driver of South-South Cooperation. Flagship programmes such as Bolsa Família in Brazil, the Community Work Programme in South-Africa and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in India have shown that the impact of the social protection floor on poverty can be adapted in different country contexts through peer-to-peer learning.
In 2013, during the III Global Conference on Child Labour held in Brazil, countries from Latin America and the Caribbean recognized the importance of acting together through south-south and triangular cooperation and joined efforts to eradicate child labour in the region by 2020.
Based on these and other examples of cooperation between countries from the South that we have been supporting, I truly believe that South-South cooperation is a way for the ILO to draw on the experience and knowledge of its tripartite constituents, as an effective means of capacity development, and horizontal knowledge sharing.
There is still a long way to go, as South-South is not a substitute for other forms of cooperationd ILO staff and constituents are progressively engaging with this form of cooperation.
However, the new development cooperation architecture calls for actors from the South and the North to be active players in a muti-polar world, and for Southern countries to be in the drivers’ seat of development issues that concern them.