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Johannesburg, 17 July 2020 – On the margins of the High-Level Political Forum 2020, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations jointly organized a virtual event entitled “Building resilient societies post-COVID-19 in the Global South”. The event brought together representatives of Colombia, Egypt, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and South Africa to discuss different national resilient experiences in the face COVID-19 global pandemic and its social and economic fallout. It also discussed the vital contribution of triangular cooperation (TrC) provided by development partners and the UN organs besides the nature of cooperation among developing countries.
Prof. Maloka, CEO of APRM, welcomed participants to the event and emphasized that the world needs multilateral cooperation and innovative strategies if it is to overcome a disease that knows no bounds. A virus that has humbled humanity indiscriminately needs to be tackled collectively. Solidarity is needed now and fast, he said. Further strengthening regional integration is necessary, and supply chains have to be diversified urgently. Furthermore, resilience ought to be institutionalized to enhance recovery from COVID-19. In the same vein, a Memorandum of Understanding has been recently signed between APRM and UNOSSC. The MoU seeks to institutionalize the cooperation between both institutions and to collaborate further for the attainment of Agenda 2063, Africa regional integration, and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Hon. Dr. Hala El-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Egypt, indicated the Egyptian government’s efforts to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the outcome document of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, also known as Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA)+40. Circumstances of COVID-19 prove that South-South cooperation (SSC) is essential. Increasing access to social protection and safety nets, eradicating poverty and hunger, creating a robust health care system as well as investing in the human capital stand at the top of the agenda of the Egyptian government. Three hundred thirty-two (332) policies and measures have been taken to date to curb the pandemic in Egypt, including a comprehensive stimulus package of around 100 billion Egyptian pounds, which represents 2% of GDP. In terms of concrete steps to support SSC, Egypt has launched a Center for South-South Industrial Cooperation to transfer technological knowledge and promote innovation-based industrial development among African states.
Mr. Tshediso Matona, Director-General of the National Planning Commission in South Africa, affirmed that COVID-19 represents a mortal shock to the global system, unprecedented in scale and destruction. He stressed that global resilience should be built alongside national and regional ones. He clarified that South Africa had been engaged in the social protection front in addition to supportive interventions in the health sector besides providing social, financial packages, i.e., income grants to the most vulnerable people affected by the pandemic. Mr. Matona affirmed that recovery should be on a different trajectory, and a futuristic approach is needed to get prepared for such shocks.
Another national experience was given by Ms. Catalina Quintero, Director of SSC, Presidential Agency for Cooperation in Colombia. She displayed the restrictive measures put in place, i.e., lockdown for three months to contain the proliferation of COIVD-19 in her country. Further, a national taskforce was created to articulate the response of public institutions to the pandemic. A crowdfunding campaign was launched to support low-income families who can stay at home during the lockdown. Ms. Quintero affirmed that the positive impact brought by SSC is noticed. It is underpinned by the acknowledgment of mutual challenges and strengths, which allows for the development of home-grown solutions, a flexible mechanism allowing experience-sharing amid a crisis and solidarity among countries.
Mr. Jorge Chediek, Director of UNOSSC, reiterated the fact that SSC and triangular cooperation are essential. He remarked that Japan had been a leader in establishing TrC. He emphasized the fact that SSC does not eliminate North-South cooperation but complements it. COVID-19 has challenged the multilateral system and will wipe out massive amounts of economic production, exacerbate unemployment, disrupt financial investments, and break many value chains. Therefore, the damage must be mitigated. SSC will be critical for sharing experiences. Many countries in the South are finding solutions to manage the pandemic. Mr. Chediek made a case for using COVID-19 to re-establish global chains and repair governments.
In the same vein, H.E Mr. Adonia Ayebare, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations, argued that recovery has to start even as countries deal with a health emergency. H.E Mr. Ayebare highlighted that the Africa Center for Disease Control demonstrates good practices at the regional level. COVID-19 will test our way forward. Recovery is not a linear process, and more coordination is needed. The BAPA+40 outcome document has proved to be relevant for cooperation and should serve as a framework document as countries overcome COVID-19, as he advised.
From an Asian perspective, Mr. Tomoya Yoshida, Deputy Director-General, Human Development Department at JICA, shed light on Japan’s response to COVID-19. He displayed various restrictive and preventive measures taken by Japan to track pandemic development. He also highlighted what JICA does to extend assistance to other countries, showing an example of its project in Thailand, which experience can be shared with other developing countries. JICA strengthens the capacity of national core laboratories in Africa, the capacity of disease control experts in Africa through regional training, and by offering post-doctoral, doctoral and Master of Public Health programs. Moreover, it is engaged in networking with regional and global disease control initiatives in Africa.
Following presentations made by speakers, some of the questions raised by the audience to them were clarified by Mr. Tarik Iziraren, Deputy Director for Policy and Strategic Partnerships at UNOSSC. He commended the fruitful discussion at the meeting while assuring that countries have taken the sound and meaningful policies and measures to counter the pandemic. He further mentioned that there is a need for more substantial support for the multilateral system. No country will overcome the pandemic alone. Therefore, partnerships, including the APRM-UNOSSC one, should be established with a multitude of stakeholders besides the governments. Mr. Iziraren also affirmed that South-South solidarity had been maintained, and countries provided vital support amongst themselves.
For inquiries please contact: Liziwe Masilela (Head of Communications APRM)