Remarks for an Ibero-American Ecosystem of Decentralized South-South and Triangular Cooperation

In the framework of the project An Innovative Triangular Cooperation for a new development agenda, SEGIB has recently published the research: “Remarks for an Ibero-American Ecosystem of Decentralized South-South and Triangular Cooperation (CSSyTr-D by its Spanish acronym)”.

The paper defines Decentralized South-South and Triangular Cooperation (CSSyTr-D by its Spanish acronym) as a set of values and practices which can be recognized for its huge potential to transform interactions within an international cooperation system that appears to be overloaded, but is not associated with a standard definition. Thus, systems with converging values, which lay the foundations to set a CSSyTr-D Ecosystem, focus on the political nature of cooperation relations and their impact on the strengthening of public policies, their tendency to respond to territories’ and regional contexts’ specific challenges, and their emphasis on the exchange of experiences and innovations based on the generation of applied knowledge to be shared.

Indeed, the document points out that South-South Cooperation (SSC) and Decentralized Cooperation (DC) both pose challenges, to different extents, to some of the founding milestones of the international cooperation system: they demand more horizontal relations, new distributions of power within the international cooperation system itself – in which they originated and to which they belong – and place more emphasis on how relationships develop rather than on their content. Regarding South-South and Triangular Cooperation, the paper identifies voices raising to study its evolution as a cooperation modality which involves partnerships that enable a political space.

In this sense, one of the research’s main hypotheses is that, as a common incentive, “North” and “South” stakeholders find in South-South and Triangular Cooperation a space to negotiate principles and practices in a context of constant evolution in the international cooperation system which, in turn, requires redefinition and innovation in terms of its traditional values. Conditions to develop this potential also seem clear: making simultaneous efforts through political dialogue; having a polycentric and reticular system that addresses not only practice and its coordination but also values and principles; and, finally, making progress in the systematization, monitoring and evaluation of this network’s work, with the required transparency and accountability.

One of the main challenges to set up a CSSyTr-D Ecosystem is the inclusion of locally-based cooperation, which originates in the substantial role played by cities and local governments’ networks. The document concludes that achieving the multilevel coordination required by a CSSyTr-D Ecosystem, based on the value of horizontality, represents a huge challenge, especially for traditional donors which decide to participate in Triangular Cooperation. Horizontality is not explicitly stated, but it is observed and confirmed throughout the process and in the nature of cooperation relations, as long as the recipient considers its aspirations, visions and opinions are being respected.

May 2022


Source: Martínez, P. (2022). Remarks for an Ibero-American Ecosystem of Decentralized South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Ibero-American General Secretariat – SEGIB, Madrid.