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Celebrating nature-based South-South cooperation

INBAR News
11Sep

On the UN day for South-South Cooperation, INBAR reflects on its role as a network for sustainable development solutions

12 September 2018 marks a special anniversary in the history of South-South cooperation, a movement which promotes collaboration for sustainable development across the Southern hemisphere. For INBAR, South-South cooperation is more than a ‘day’ – it’s a fundamental part of the way our organisation works.

Bamboo and rattan can, and have, played an outsized role in sustainable development. Covering millions of hectares across the Global South, these plants are used by a large number of countries as a source of housing, handicraft production and income creation. Since 1997, INBAR’s role has been to expand the scope of this work – helping countries in the Global South to realise the full potential of bamboo and rattan for climate change mitigation, adaptation, green growth and sustainable infrastructure.

One of the most effective ways for INBAR to promote bamboo and rattan for sustainable development is to share experiences and technologies from different Members. As a network of 44 Member states, 43 of which are from the Global South, INBAR’s work is inherently ‘South-South’ in nature. In recent years, INBAR has helped transfer bamboo house building techniques from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to countries like Nepal, which is using bamboo as a tool in its post-earthquake reconstruction; has transferred innovative bamboo charcoal and gasification technologies from India to Madagascar, as part of its South-South Knowledge Transfer Strategies programme; and is using Dutch and Chinese market expertise to help develop the bamboo sectors in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It also conducts extensive training programmes for a wide variety of audiences, who can learn from China’s bamboo industry expertise.

In 2017, INBAR co-published the results of its work on South-South cooperation in a report, South-South in Action – Inspiring Sustainable Development with Bamboo. The report, published with the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) as part of its ongoing series ‘South-South Cooperation in Action’, highlights the many ways in which bamboo and rattan technologies and products have been shared around the world.

As the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress, hosted in Beijing in June 2018, made clear, this work is ongoing. The Congress saw the launch of a new inter-Africa project, with Chinese technical support, and a new initiative which shares Latin American bamboo experiences and expertise from various countries.

INBAR’s work on building South-South connections has been praised by many leading organisations and speakers. A recent report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, an important supporter of INBAR’s programme work, had this to say:

“The INBAR experience with bamboo over the past two decades and before shows that an assisted network for SSC architecture can work well if pursued with vigour and imagination…. The absence of a network and continued support makes many [development loan projects] unsustainable in the long term. In INBAR, it has been an article of faith that strong support for South member states is provided when needed.” – South-South and Triangular Cooperation: Highlights from IFAD’s Portfolio (2017)

Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation and Director of UNOSSC, has also praised INBAR as “a perfect vehicle for promoting and supporting South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation, because it was designed from the start as a platform for mutual demand-driven South-South learning and exchange.” And at the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress, the theme of which was ‘Enhancing South-South Cooperation for Green Development’, leaders from around the world offered their support to INBAR’s mission to share knowledge and expertise.

On this UN day, INBAR commits itself to continue promoting South-South Cooperation as a vital, and effective, model for sustainable development. We fully support the sentiments of Lenín Moreno, President of Ecuador, in his video message to the Global Bamboo and Rattan Congress: “It is essential to strengthen South-South cooperation and to build green development – together. This is the only way to have true development.” We also look forward to presenting our case at the second high-level UN conference on South-South Cooperation – BAPA +40 – in Buenos Aires next year.