The eleventh edition of the United Nations Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo), concluded Wednesday at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) in Bangkok. More than 30 UN agencies, 150 governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and academia showcased Southern-grown partnerships and solutions toward sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Secretary-General António Guterres reminded Expo participants that “South-South and triangular cooperation are critical for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate disruption, address the global health crisis, including COVID-19 recovery.”
“The Expo is a concrete response to the strong commitment made by the UN Secretary-General and the UNDP Administrator to help the Global South realize its shared aspirations of knowledge and experience sharing to tackle complex and cross-cutting challenges and emergencies,” said Renaud Meyer, UNDP Resident Representative to Thailand, representing the Administrator at the opening of the Expo.
Taking place from 12 to 14 September, the GSSD Expo 2022 was co-organized by the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). For the first time the Expo was convened in an innovative hybrid green format allowing the innovative forms of Southern-led knowledge sharing, and pandemic response and recovery showcased onsite to be shared far and wide in real-time.
Over 4000 South-South and triangular cooperation stakeholders participated in GSSD Expo activities both onsite and virtually, and more than 1.5 million were reached via social media.
Mr. Wattanawit Gajaseni, Deputy-Director-General of Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) said that, “to fortify South-South and triangular cooperation, it requires enhanced institutional capacities and an enabling ecosystem at home, innovative resource mobilization and increased multi-stakeholder engagement and better coordination.” He also emphasized “the critical role of relevant UN bodies and agencies and the strong political will, leadership and a sense of ownership of the Global South.”
“Over the last few days, we were able to benefit from the wisdom and experiences of an excellent mix of experts, which included the South-South cooperation policymakers and practitioners,” said Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, in her closing message. She added that many efforts are already underway within the UN system as well to leverage South-South and triangular cooperation in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The success of this Expo is due to the contributions and partnership of all stakeholders. Together, we have identified challenges and opportunities,” said Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, UNOSSC Head of Delegation, in her closing remarks. She reminded participants that moving forward to carry on the success of the Expo, “our sense of solidarity must always be genuine and our efforts must be demand driven.”
In one of the many examples of success highlighted at the Expo, Mr. Anir Chowdhury, of the “a2i – Innovate for All” Program of the Government of Bangladesh, shared how over the last 10 years a2i has saved citizens of Bangladesh over 12 billion work days through delivering affordable and reliable public services digitally.