Matteo MarchisioBEIJING, March 2 (IPS) – Five years ago, on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the world leaders adopted the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda should be achieved through the achievement of 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: eradicating poverty, ending hunger, combating climate change – to name a few.
Matteo Marchisio The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic suddenly disrupted progress towards this goal and, in many cases, resulted in years of progress. For example, the World Bank estimated that COVID-19 pushed an additional 88-115 million people into extreme poverty last year, bringing the total number of poor in the world back to 2014-2015 levels.
According to the 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition Report, the pandemic may have contributed between 83 and 132 million people to malnutrition in the world in 2020. It’s like COVID-19 suddenly brought the world back to 2005, eroding 15 years of advances in food security in just a few months.
The measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 (i.e. lockdown and movement restrictions) impacted the entire food system, disrupting production, processing, marketing and distribution. Rural communities and smallholders – especially in developing countries – have been hardest hit by the implementation of such measures. Their livelihood depends primarily on agricultural production and sales.
Given that smallholders produce over 70% of the world’s food needs, the impact of COVID-19 on smallholders could potentially have serious implications for global food security. It is therefore our common interest (in addition to our shared responsibility) to support developing countries – and within developing countries, rural communities and smallholders – to recover from the pandemic.
International development cooperation is an important channel for the global community to support developing countries. In this context, South-South cooperation – that is, cooperation between developing countries (“global South”) – has increasingly developed into a form of international cooperation that complements traditional North-South cooperation. South-South cooperation enables developing countries to share knowledge, practical experience, development solutions and investment opportunities with one another.
South-South cooperation is a particularly suitable method of cooperation for developing countries, as many developing countries share similar development paths and many experiences, solutions or innovations in similar contexts are relevant or can be more easily adopted.
What role can South-South cooperation play in helping developing countries recover from COVID-19? An interesting example is the South-South Cooperation Facility administered by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations multilateral development agency whose mission is to promote inclusive rural development in developing countries.
The South-South Cooperation Facility at IFAD was established three years ago with a contribution of US $ 10 million from China to mobilize expertise, knowledge and resources from the global south to reduce poverty and livelihoods for poor people in rural areas Areas to improve.
The Facility finances competitively selected proposals submitted in response to the regular call for proposals. Since the facility was set up, 15 proposals have been approved for a total of approximately US $ 7 million and are currently being implemented. The proposals fostered collaboration between countries in different regions and covered a wide range of topics, from value chain initiatives between farmer groups and companies in Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam to the transfer of sustainable aquaculture technologies in Ghana and Nigeria – to name a few.
The third call for proposals for the facility was launched precisely at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the scale of the challenge posed by the pandemic, it was decided to use the facility to contribute to the global response to COVID-19. The remaining funds from the Facility have therefore been used to facilitate the exchange of approaches, solutions and innovations that could be of value to developing countries in order to build more resilient societies and recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Considering one of the main effects of COVID-19 has been the disruption of food systems. In particular, the facility should assist rural communities and smallholders in dealing with situations where access to farm equipment or labor is disrupted, or markets are disrupted. The facility will support activities aimed at diversifying income generating opportunities, thereby reducing dependence on agriculture as the main livelihood or facilitating access to markets – including through the introduction of innovative digital solutions. The proposals submitted in response to the third call for proposals are currently being examined and will shortly be selected.
Even stronger international cooperation is needed to effectively deal with the effects of the pandemic. As a complement to traditional North-South cooperation, South-South cooperation is now more important than ever. Knowledge of solutions to COVID-induced problems such as food system disruptions are just as important as financial support.
Around the world, every country has unique experiences of the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic, and the experiences of developing countries are different from those of the global north and may be better suited to other developing countries. Only if we learn from these experiences can effective solutions be found and the international community successfully implement the 2030 Agenda.
The author is Country Director and Representative for China and Head of the Regional Center for East Asia and the South-South Cooperation Center of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Follow @IPSNewsUNBureauFollow IPS’s new IPS office on Instagram
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