Capacity building to systematize information is key for Ibero-American South-South and Triangular Cooperation and for their contribution to SDG 17 and 16.
Having solid, reliable and integrated information systems is an essential condition to strengthen public policies. The cooperation policy is not exempt from this premise. Good data is not only crucial for decision making, but also for accountability in terms of public management.
Ibero-American countries have different capacities to systematize information regarding the international cooperation in which they participate. While some of their systems are long-standing and others are more recent, a few countries do not yet have these kind of instruments. In turn, countries which systems were designed years ago currently have new challenges in terms of integrating, in a single platform, the cooperation they receive and provide, or the different cooperation modalities in which they participate (traditional, South-South, Triangular, among others). Other systems might still need to develop new features to register all the initiatives implemented by sectoral and local institutions, not only those managed by the institutions responsible for cooperation in the countries.
Having quality information is essential to prepare the Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America. Therefore, for more than a decade, SEGIB, with the support of the Ibero-American Program for the Strengthening of South-South Cooperation (PIFCSS by its Spanish acronym), has been working to strengthen countries’ registration capacities. PIFCSS has become a space for fruitful technical exchange of best practices in this matter, reasonably focused on South-South cooperation. However, lessons learnt in the framework of this Program can also be applied to the other cooperation modalities in which Ibero-American countries are involved.
In this regard, as a result of the region’s remarkable progress in recent years, the first online data platform on South-South Cooperation was designed and launched in 2015: our Ibero-American Integrated Data System on South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SIDICSS by its Spanish acronym), which countries regularly update to provide the data on which the Report is based.
In this context of capacity strengthening, Chile, Costa Rica and Panama presented the project “Information System for International Cooperation” (SICI by its Spanish acronym) to the call for proposals in the framework of The Regional Public Goods (RPG) Initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project’s aim is to provide countries with updated quality information, on a timely basis, on the international cooperation in which they participate. This requires unifying criteria and lowest common denominators to register the information.
Thus, the aim of the project is to improve dialogue and coordination among stakeholders for decision making (AGCID). In turn, this software will contribute to knowledge building and transparency in terms of international cooperation resources’ management. The initiative is expected to broaden its scope to other countries of the region in the future.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica and the Chilean Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AGCID by its Spanish acronym) participate in this initiative, the latter being the resources’ manager and the implementing institution.
Prior to the design of the System, best practices in terms of national information systems for international cooperation were identified in the framework of the project. This analysis included the information systems of the three participating countries and of other six countries within and outside the region (Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Uruguay, Spain and France), in addition to SIDICSS. The exercise involved reviewing aspects such as regulatory frameworks to update information, data models, technological strategies, among others. The results of this analysis were shared with national and regional stakeholders in mid-2020. In addition, a series of recommendations were made, on which the design of the Information System for International Cooperation should be based (Guadatel and Track, Workshop “Analysis of national registries”, June 19th, 2020).
The project was signed in May 2017 and is still under execution. IDB contributes with 500,000 dollars in the framework of the Regional Public Goods Initiative. Participating countries’ contributions add up to a total budget of 786,000 dollars (IDB, 2017, p.3).
The RPG Initiative is destined to support the generation of regional public goods that have a potentially high development impact and which will result in significant shared benefits and positive spillover effects on many countries (IDB, 2017). The initiative is based on the premise that Latin-American and Caribbean countries share development challenges and opportunities that can frequently be addressed more effectively and efficiently through regional collective action and regional cooperation (IDB).