South-South Co-operation consists of an exchange of knowledge, support, resources and technical capacities among the Global South towards key development objectives. Evidence shows that it is more effective when there is a dedicated institutional structure set up to manage it. However, country experiences suggest that there is no perfect or unique structure as it depends on each government’s legislation, needs and priorities.
As part of the work of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) Action Area 2.3 which studies the effectiveness of South-South Co-operation, an event was convened to study the different structures that countries have in place and the coordination challenges faced.
What are the key institutional elements for effectively managing South-South Co-operation activities? The following case studies explore answers from Mexico, Colombia and Indonesia:
In 2011, per the International Co-operation for Development Law, the Agency of International Co-operation for Development (AMEXCID) was established as an autonomous entity within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). While the Ministry is in charge of bilateral, regional and multilateral relations, as well as relations with local and subnational governments, AMEXCID has its own autonomous budget to participate, coordinate and implement co-operation projects and activities.
Headed by an Executive Director designed by MoFA, the agency has established several bilateral funds with specific countries and group of countries to fulfill its mandate, including the Fund for Cooperation with Central America and the Caribbean, with the Ibero-American Secretariat and European Union. Its 5-year Program of International Co-operation for Development (PROCID) guides its co-operation activities to implement its mandate based on 5 goals:
As a governing body, AMEXCID has a multi-stakeholder Consultative Council with 18 Cabinet Ministers, the National Council on Science and Technology and the National Institute of Original Peoples, as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society organizations.
While the agency has a clear mandate, structure and funding, communication and coordination between the agency, the various ministries and other authorities at the national and sub-national levels, the Consultative Council and its various technical committees, and the private sector, academia and civil society organizations, often require much effort and collaboration by all to implement effective South-South Co-operation projects.
While APC Colombia was also created in 2011, it has always belonged to the presidential sector which is mandated to coordinate all non-reimbursable international co-operation that the country receives and offers. While, like Mexico, it also has its own budget and fund called the International Assistance and Co-operation Fund (FOCAI), its guiding programme comes directly from the presidency.
The Agency is set up with stakeholders from across the country including a General Directorate and a Steering Committee comprising of the President himself, MoFA, National Department of Planning and Ministry of Defense and civil society organizations. The four directorates of the agency are around ‘demand’ (managing ODA), ‘offer’ (managing SSC and triangular cooperation, ‘institutional coordination’ (managing relations with sub-national partners and private sector), and ‘administrative and financial’.
Being located in the Office of the President with a fund (FOCAI) enables the agency to engage with and incentivise internal and external partners at the highest level. The variety of members involved also allows the Agency to better understand the different priorities of each sector, making more relevant recommendations.
As with Mexico, with more actors comes the greater task of seamless coordination. Multiple efforts are in place to better coordinate projects at the subnational level as partners often don’t report to the presidency. Moreover, with cross-cutting types of co-operation, it is at times a challenge to know which co-operation project falls under which directorate. As a solution, the President has issued a directive requesting all international co-operation actions be better coordinated with APC-Colombia.
The Ministry of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia (Bappenas) is the central agency responsible for:
As a development planning agency, Bappenas puts SSTC as one of the development priorities. The Directorate of Foreign Policy and International Development Co-operation is one of the 42 directorates within Bappenas assigned to set up a national policy on international development co-operation and foreign relations. Bappenas continues to prioritize the implementation of international development co-operation, including SSTC and grants to become an important instrument in economic diplomacy and sovereignty diplomacy.
To manage Indonesia’s SSTC, the National Coordination Team for South-South Cooperation (NCT SSC) was formed back in 2010 with Bappenas ensuring that Indonesia’s SSTC programs align with national priorities and national development plans.
The Government of Indonesia has also established The Agency of International Development Co-operation Fund (also known as ‘IndoAID’) which is managed by a Steering Committee consisting of 4 Ministries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas, and Ministry of State Secretariat. The Directorate of Foreign Policy and International Development Co-operation Bappenas is a member of the Board of Directors mandated to assess grant proposals to be funded by IndoAID.
Indonesia faces several challenges related to the implementation of SSTC. These include difficulties creating sustainable and innovative programs, engaging wider stakeholders, especially non-state actors, and establishing a broader mechanism of funding to finance SSTC programs beyond the state budget. Against this backdrop, there are several strategies explored to enforce sustainability and the impact of SSTC including (1) strengthening institutional capacity and capability; (2) developing incentive mechanisms for actors involved in SSTC; and (3) optimizing funding sources through the support of multilateral institutions and international organizations as well as searching for new funding mechanisms.
What have we learned about effectively managing South-South Co-operation?
Given Mexico, Colombia and Indonesia’s diverse structures and common challenges of coordination and co-operation, four elements are key to successfully setting up an institution to manage South-South Co-operation - in line with the four effectiveness principles:
➡️ A central country agency that is multi-stakeholder and involves ministries and partners at the highest levels (country ownership)
➡️ A mandate with clear roles and responsibilities for these ministries and partners (inclusive partnerships)
➡️ A clear monitoring and reporting system for them (focus on results)
➡️ A separate budget and fund for timely and transparent delivery of South-South Co-operation activities, along with mechanisms for jointly managing projects (mutual accountability and transparency)
Each country’s experience suggests that development co-operation can be made more effective through improving processes for managing information flows and coordinating action between various partners who are increasingly engaging in development co-operation at the country level.
Further case studies and experience-sharing on South-South Co-operation methodologies can provide valuable insights for best practices around multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms. How is your institution organized to promote development co-operation? Do you want to share a methodology for facilitating coordination among partners? Please e-mail APC-Colombia at email@example.com.