Forum on CSOs and South-South Cooperation

Annex 1. AGENDA   Organizers: CSO Network Reality of Aid (RoA), Latin-American Association of Development Promoting Organizations (ALOP) and the Presidential Agency for Social Action and International Cooperation (ACCIÓN SOCIAL).  

Time Topic/ Activity/ Resource Person/ Facilitator
12:30 pm. Greetings and Welcome Sandra Alzate Cifuentes - Director of International Cooperation at ACCIÓN SOCIAL Tony Tujan – President of the Leadership Committee Reality of Aid (RoA)
12:40 pm. “South - South Cooperation: a challenge to the Aid System”. Rubén Fernández – Leadership Committee RoA/ALOP
13:00 pm. “The Framework for South - South Cooperation” Tony Tujan – President of the Reality of Aid Leadership Committee (RoA)
13:15 pm. “South - South Cooperation in the agenda of Aid Efficacy” Sandra Alzate Cifuentes - Director of International Cooperation at ACCIÓN SOCIAL
13:30 Lunch
14:45pm. Panel: Experiences of South - South cooperation and Civil Society Organization participation Moderator: Carlos Romero – Universidad Central de Venezuela
  • Santiago Perry, Consorcio PBA, Colombia – Innovation for small-scale farmers
  • Vitalice Meja, Afrodad, Africa – Position from Africa on CSS
  • Arjun Kumar Karki, Least Developed Countries, LDC-Watch, Asia – Position from Asian organizations
  • Bodo Ellmers, Eurodad-RoA, Europe –Political Position from BetterAid
4:00pm. Break
4:30pm. Open discussion: The role of civil society organizations in South - South Cooperation Moderator: Fernando Buchelli – Universidad Externado de Colombia
5:45pm. Closing Brian Tomlinson, Vice-president de RoA y CCIC Canada Jorge Enrique Prieto, Assistant Director of International Cooperation at ACCIÓN SOCIAL
II. FROM THE BOOK: “SOUTH - SOUTH COOPERATION: A CHALLENGE TO THE AID SYSTEM?” Organizers: Reality of Aid and the Latin-American Association of Development Promotion Organizations, ALOP.
6:00pm. Welcome Rubén Fernández – Leadership Committee RoA y ALOP
6:15pm. Presentation of the contents and main concepts of the book Tony Tujan – President of RoA
6:45pm. Commentaries: (written comments are annexed)
  • Camilo Molina, International Cooperation Observatory, Ecuador
  • Gloria Vela, International Cooperation Observatory - La Alianza, Colombia
  • Jorge Enrique Prieto, Assistant Director of International Cooperation at ACCIÓN SOCIAL, Colombia
7:30pm. Toast

MULTI-STAKEHOLDERS FORUM SOUTH -SOUTH COOPERATION EXPERIENCES AND CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION MINUTES1 Bogotá, March, 2010 This Forum was organized as a result of an agreement between the International Cooperation Office of the Presidential Agency Social Action (Acción Social) and the International Cooperation Office (Social Action) of the Colombian Government and the global social organization network The Reality of Aid, RoA and its associate, the Latin-American Association of Development Promotion Organizations, Alop. This event was held prior to the High Level Event on South -South Cooperation and Capacity Training, under the auspices of the Colombian government, in preparation for the IV High Level Forum on Aid Efficacy and in follow up to the Paris Declaration and the Accra Action Agenda. (See annex 1 for the agenda. Annexes at www.ccong.org.co) The Accra Action Agenda (AAA), signed in the III High Level Forum held in Ghana in September of 2008, highlights South -South Cooperation (and Triangular Cooperation) as important modes of cooperation in the new architecture of cooperation, given the contributions that these offer to the international agenda of aid effectiveness and how they compliment traditional cooperation. Since then, there have been important efforts to develop a better understanding of the nature, reach and perspectives of South -South Cooperation. Additionally, multi-actor dialogues have become an efficient mechanism for this learning and therefore this has been the format used to produce and share knowledge and opinions on this topic. More than 80 people attended including Colombian and Latin-American Civil Society Organizations (CSO), members of the Colombian Government, representatives of international cooperation agencies, members of the diplomatic corps present in Colombia, and academics from universities with campuses in Bogotá (see annex 9 for a complete list of attendees). The minutes included below are not a detailed description of ideas and opinions shared during the event, but rather a synthesis of the topics deemed most relevant by the author.2 KEY ELEMENTS OF THE PRESENTATIONS.  

    1. The framework of South -South Cooperation (SSC).Tony Tujan, President of RoA
      • SSC is important not only because of the mobilization of financial resources, but also because it demonstrates how cooperation relationships could be in the future: in theory, at least, it recognizes the principles of solidarity, respect for sovereignty, and equal treatment among parties, among others.
      • SSC is much more than development aid. It includes cooperation in areas such as culture, security and even politics. The debate that is raised here is directly related to development cooperation; this means interchange programs between Southern countries with specific goals to solve development problems on one side of the exchange.
      • SSC proposes new challenges given that in some concrete experiences, such as those documented in this the book (that was launched at this event), indicate that some old practices, such as aid tied to the donor’s commercial or political interests or that simply fall outside of the respect for human rights, are repeated.
      • These challenges can be grouped into least three concrete areas: a) How can this aid honor a principle of non-interference while respecting human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability frameworks? b) Within a field of equal treatment between parties, the challenge is how to carry out technical assistance so that it mutually benefits the parties. c) How can mutuality be developed in relationships so that all the institutional systems involved are strengthened?
      • SSC has a lot of the old, but it also has a lot of the new, including the some of the ideal way to work. For this reason, as we think about the new architecture of international development cooperation, the study of SSC should hold a special place.
    2. South - South Cooperation: A challenge to the Aid system? Rubén Fernández, RoA-Alop (Annex 2)The presentation highlighted the following:
      • The importance of CSO processes on the national, regional and international levels has been that they offer a different voice in the existing debates and now are contributing part of the International Development Cooperation architecture.
      • We must not forget that reflections and actions should be guided by the central concerns of development and the overcoming of poverty, inequality, exclusion and environmental damage; all the debates around cooperation should be focused on these ends. The problem is how we finance human development, equality and sustainability.
      • In order for SSC to really mean advances with respect to traditional international cooperation it must meet few central goals: a) Open more space for CSO as a requirement for deepening “Democratic Appropriation” and b) Develop the highest standards of transparency including public documentation in order to make it possible for different actors to monitor the progress.
      • In the concrete experiences analyzed there are enormous deficiencies in these two areas and much more to do.
    3. South -South Cooperation in the agenda of Aid Efficacy. Sandra Alzate, Director of Cooperation at Acción Social. (annex 3)The Colombian Government’s position includes the following central ideas:
        • There is an explicit recognition that there are new actors in the SSC world. It is not clear when some of these actors belong in the SSC model and in some cases they are more comparable to new N-S cooperation models.
       
        • For the Colombian Government, the SSC impulse is part of the national cooperation strategy, given that they played a key leadership role in the inclusion of this topic in the AAA and concretely in the paragraph 19 of that document.
       
        • The Colombian Government proposes the following common challenges: convert activities to projects, focus on the demand, promote Triangular Cooperation and monitor, evaluate and document best practices.
       
 
    1. PANELThere were four expositions in this section of the forum. Each of them highlighted some of the following ideas:
        • Innovation for small-scale farmers.Santiago Perry, Corporation PBA, Colombia.a) The participation of peasants is central to technology development innovations and in research for the production of relevant knowledge. b) Some international agencies and Colombian Governmental agencies have worked toward the internationalization of experiences, but yet a factor for the continuity and success of these experiences is connected to social organizations whose presences is more permanent than governmental representatives that change frequently. c) A third idea is the need for grassroots organizational strengthening as a condition for success. (see annex 4)
       
        • Position from Africa on SSC.Vitalice Meja, Afrodad, Africa.
       
        • For the majority of African countries, SSC seems like an alternative for traditional Aid given the problems that the latter presents including interference in internal affairs and conditioned aid. In this way the application of the principle of no interference, used by SSC seems to be their most attractive quality. Some of the central concerns are: a) SSC has basically only happened between governments; b) inadequate labor management of these projects; c) weaknesses in the evaluation of the environmental impacts of the projects and; d) limited transparency in the use of the resources.
       
        • In terms of CSO, African governments tend to ignore them, making secret agreements with some of them, and, in some cases, they are treated like enemies of democratization and development processes. (see annex 5)
       
        • Position from Asian organizationsArjun Kumar Karki, Least Developed Countries, LDC-Watch, Asia.Central concerns about cooperation experiences are: a) Asia is not that different from Africa and, in fact, Southern Asia is the region of the world with the largest number of people in poverty; SSC is interesting but in reality it is not focused on human rights principles, gender equality and justice; b) the principle of non-interference is used so that there are no discussions among parliaments and CSOs; c) Asian governments are more concerned about their relationships with Northern NGOS than CSOs from their own countries.
       
        • BetterAid’s Political Position. Bodo Ellmers, Eurodad-RoA, Europe. The presenter highlighted the recommendations from the annexed text: a) Put people first (promote human rights, justice and sustainability as SSC principles), b) promote SSC as a strategy to consolidate autonomy, c) respect principles of mutual benefit, equality and solidarity, d) adhere to the highest standards of transparency and openness; e) strengthen local democratic appropriation; f) cancel debt and do not increase it; g) work toward a more equal and global aid system, h) assure CSOs’ participation. (annex 6)
         
 
    1. OPEN DISCUSSION The discussion was based on these four questions:
        1. From the point of view of the effectiveness agenda, what are the principle offerings of CSOs?
       
        1. Apart from the roles of CSOs presented in prior experiences, are there additional roles that the CSOs could take on to improve SSC efficacy?
       
        1. From your point of view, identify the challenges or areas to improve that CSOs face in SSC.
       
        1. From your point of view, identify the challenges or areas to improve that governmental practices face in SSC.
          These are some of the key ideas from this debate in which the audience participated openly:    
        • It is necessary to consult the realities of CSOs and the context in which they work in each country (and even in regions within countries) given that they are not all the same. There are positive experiences of promoting the existence and action of CSOs, but there are also negative experiences. Each should be learned from and therefore they should be documented.
       
        • One of the criteria of Cooperation effectiveness, in all of its forms, should be the strengthening of the organizational and institutional fabric in the territory where the project takes place. The general idea defended in Accra is that CSOs require an “enabling environment”, understood as fiscally stimulating, morally and politically adequate and with recognition of their existence and their voice, and this continues to be a large challenge in most countries of the region.
       
        • Governments tend to look at CSOs as administrators or subcontractors of project implementation. Although this in and of itself is not the problem, it is if these kinds of organizations are the only ones government officials invite to public debates. The recognition of the diverse world of CSOs is an urgent necessity, both among government officials and CSOs
       
        • We should move beyond the notion that Triangular Cooperation consists of a Northern government contracting a Southern government (or a consulting firm) to implement a project in a third country. Topics such as mutuality and benefits for all involved should be clearly kept in mind.
       
        • Civil society organizations themselves have a diverse reality: on the one hand they are gaining presence and protagonist positions in international spaces and expanding around the world through different types of networks. But, at the same time, on the national level these organizations are dispersed and have little representation. The strengthening of second, third and fourth level organizations (associations, federations, confederations) and giving them more representation is urgent in almost all the countries present.
       
 
    1. CLOSING Brian Tomlinson, Vice-president of RoA and CCIC Canadá (annex 7)He highlighted the following ideas from the forum:
        • The fact is that CSOs from around the world have become intensely involved in debates on International Development Cooperation since the preparation process for Accra. From now on hopefully debates will maintain this openness and real spaces for participation for all actors, including CSOs.
       
        • The participation of CSOs in SSC processes is a critical factor for its full effectiveness and development; especially the role of monitoring and evaluating quality, but also in other fields. It is especially concerning that spaces for CSOs are being closed in many countries in the South.
       
        • The emergence of SSC as a new field of work within the International Cooperation Architecture has been recognized. In every case the key question from CSOs is for the efficacy of promoting effective development in terms of equality, respect for human rights and care for the environment. From this perspective, this effectiveness has to do with how capacity is built among marginalized populations so that they can demand respect for their rights.
       
        • The current discussion is framed by the debate post-Accra and the working principles declared in the AAA, especially those for SSC in Paragraph 19. The invitation is to continue working toward Seoul with a deepening of the implications of these principles and the principles in the Paris Declaration for all Cooperation actors.
       
        • There is much to learn in the universe of SSC. With the book that is launched today, the RoA makes a valuable contribution, but this should continue to be deepened in the evaluation and documentation of experiences, innovations, advances and errors, tools used, etc. as lessons to be learned and replicated to better the effectiveness of SSC as a tool for development promotionJorge Enrique Prieto, Assistant-Director of International Cooperation at ACCIÓN SOCIAL He expressed the satisfaction of the Colombian Government and the International Cooperation Office of Acción Social for having been able to support this event given that he considers it an advance in the understanding of SSC best practices. He announced that he will give a longer commentary regarding the book during the launching.
       
 
  Prepared by: RUBÉN FERNÁNDEZ Coordinator of the Working Group on Development and Democracy Financing of ALOP Management Committee of Reality of Aid
  Note: The three sets of comments made about the book “South -South Cooperation Sur-Sur: A challenge to the Aid system?” are transcribed and included in Annex 8 given their relevance