Knowledge exchanges a potent tool in quest for Zero Hunger

Increasing sharing of best practices and expertise to fight hunger and poverty

7 June 2018, Rome, Italy - Exchanges between developing countries of experiences and knowledge gained through their national hunger and poverty reduction efforts are proving to be a game changer for sustainable development, according to a roundtable discussion among experts and policymaker held at FAO.

"Under the 2030 sustainable development agenda, we all have the obligation to work to translate our political will and the resources we have available into action on the ground that lead to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger," said FAO Deputy-Director General Dan Gustafson during the discussions. 

But while UN organizations and other international actors have a role to play in providing technical cooperation, assistance, and ideas, "really it's the exchange of best practices, new ideas, innovations, experiences in how countries have addressed problems, and the policies and institutions they've used that will make a difference," he added.

The event brought together a diverse group of participants from all world regions to take a close look at the South-South model of development cooperation.

Under that model, developing countries themselves exchange resources, knowledge, and experts with one another to both build their own response capacities as well as to shape and drive their own development agendas.

Case studies from China, Ghana, Kenya and Senegal using FAO Knowledge Exchange Platforms to facilitate South-South cooperation were among the experiences discussed at the event.

Productive partnerships

Under South-South model for development cooperation, FAO and international donors like the European Union, are adopting at "triangular" approach -- two or more southern countries take the lead, while international partners fill in the gaps identified by the country-driven process.

China was one of the first countries to engage with FAO on South South cooperation and has over the past two decades has contributed some $80 million to FAO to support that work and mobilized over 1,000 of its own agricultural technicians.

"Only sustainable development is good development; only cooperative development is genuine development," said Niu Dun, China's Ambassador to FAO, said in his remarks.

"FAO's South-South and Triangular cooperation efforts provide a platform for co-development that allows countries and regions with the same objectives to have fruitful cooperation," he added.

Jan Tombinksi, Ambassador to FAO for the European Union -- a major support of the Organization's South-South program -- said:  "We will never achieve sustainability of development without there being an ownership of the process in countries,"

"The days of predominately North to South knowledge transfers are gone," Tombinksi added.

He cited FAO's Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) initiative, which the EU funds, as illustrating how the new approach can make a difference.

Tombinksi noted how, for example, support from FIRST helped Kenya's government build up its planning capacity and developed national agriculture development and investment plans as well as a national Food and Nutrition Security Policy.

Photo: ©FAO/...
China's Ambassador to FAO, Niu Dun, (right) shows photographs of South-South cooperation efforts to Chad's Minister of Production, Irrigation and Agriculture Equipment, Lydie Beassemda, (middle) and FAO Deputy Director-General Daniel Gustafson (left).