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Innovative solutions conference gives new hope to poverty challenges

More than 100 success stories highlighted at global gathering

Photo: ©FAO
South-South development solutions on exhibit at FAO Headquarters.

9 December 2011, Rome - The Fourth Annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) concluded Friday at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome having spotlighted and showcased over 100 partnerships and solutions to poverty challenges that have been developed by developing countries themselves.

The Expo is a concrete response to the strong commitments made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark to help the Global South realize its shared aspirations to tackle complex and cross-cutting poverty challenges through the better sharing of knowledge of best practices.

Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General elect of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization highlighted in his statement: "Giving emphasis to South-South Cooperation does not mean that we will turn our back on North-South Cooperation. Far from it! Making progress on hunger combat demands the fullest possible sharing of knowledge and experience between all nations. We are talking about a fundamental challenge affecting all of humanity and I see it as a collective responsibility of all nations - South and North.

Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), agreed, adding that lifting one billion people out of poverty requires solidarity and commitment. "People must be at the centre of all development, he said.

Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the U.N. and President of the General Assembly High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, told delegates at the gathering that a greater focus on, and investment in, Southern-driven solutions is the only way to tackle the planet's poverty challenges.   "The whole idea of aid died in Busan," he said. "Moving forward, we cannot have a system that is based on paternalistic top-down approaches."

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly, in a message to the closing segment said the path to prosperity does not necessarily run through the North or the South, as these are but relative terms. Rather, he said, we need to move beyond borders and compasses to encompass and envision the planet as one, filled with opportunities for all. "I urge you to continue to overcome any differences between our countries, between our regions, between the North and the South, between our organizations, and even between us, as individuals, in order to maintain unity of purpose."

Of the many examples of success highlighted at the Expo, the Programme for South-South Cooperation on Sustainable Development (PSC), in just three years, has improved people's lives in Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica.  Marianella Feoli, head of the PSC Secretariat, said their programmes have improved the lives of 26,000 direct beneficiaries in 477 communities, "due largely to independence from donors, emphasis on real reciprocity and equality between stakeholders and partners."

Nigeria's South-South Cooperation with China, facilitated by FAO, has contributed to an increase in average incomes of  households participating in the national programme for food security from around US$300 to US$750. This has allowed them to buy assets like metal roofs, motor cycles, and cell phones. It has also reduced the number of farm households having less than three meals per day by half.

The Fifth Annual Global South-South Development Expo will take place in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in 2012.