The Co-Chairs of the Group of Friends of VNRs and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) published a ‘Handbook on Integrating South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the Voluntary National Reviews.’ Responding to the Ministerial Declaration of the 2022 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the latest intergovernmental resolutions on South-South cooperation, the handbook provides step-by-step guidance on how to achieve such integration.
In a joint foreword, the Co-Chairs of the Group of Friends of VNRs – Permanent Representatives of the Philippines and Morocco – and UNOSSC Director Dima Al-Khatib highlight South-South cooperation (SSC) and triangular cooperation (TrC) as “a valuable catalyst in galvanizing political will and in enhancing knowhow to implement the much needed economic and social reforms to rescue the SDGs.” They note that integrating SSC and TrC perspectives in VNRs helps to track progress more comprehensively and inclusively, as well as to generate evidence of the contributions SSC and TrC make toward achieving the SDGs.
The Handbook defines South-South cooperation as a form of partnership between two or more developing countries, through which they pursue their individual and shared development objectives by exchanging knowledge, skills, resources, and knowhow. Conversely, triangular cooperation involves Southern-driven partnerships between three or more developing countries, or between two or more developing countries supported by a developed country or a multilateral organization.
According to the publication, governments can integrate SSC and TrC in their VNRs through:
- Process, by applying SSC and TrC activities as part of the VNR process; and
- Content, by reporting on SSC and TrC efforts and achievements in the VNR report.
The Handbook identifies seven entry points that can be used to integrate SSC and TrC in VNRs: kick-off; organization/preparation; engaging in SSC and TrC activities; preparatory workshops; report writing/content of SSC and TrC; presentation at the HLPF; and post-VNR.
Several action-oriented recommendations accompany each of the entry points. For example, during kick-off, the Handbook suggests governments consider “twinning” (connecting two or more countries in the region that present their VNRs), peer learning, or participating in VNR workshops, among other recommendations. For post-VNR, it recommends that countries, inter alia: ensure that mechanisms established to monitor and evaluate progress on the SDGs consider measuring progress on SSC and TrC; and document follow-up from previous VNR reporting on SSC and TrC.
Developed in close collaboration with Member States, UN entities, and relevant stakeholders, the handbook complements the DESA Handbook for the Preparation of VNRs, the Secretary-General’s proposal for voluntary common reporting guidelines for VNRs, and other existing VNR resource packages. It was published on 14 July, during HLPF 2023.