The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) co-hosted a Student Speech Competition, on 25 February 2020, to promote increased awareness and participation of students and youth in South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development on 25 February 2020. The competition was co-sponsored by Siam Cement Group (SCG).
The Youth competition was intended to energize the young people and build their awareness on South-South and triangular cooperation as potent modalities to achieve the sustainable development agenda.
The UN Office for South-South Cooperation seeks to build partnerships with multistakeholders in South-South and triangular cooperation. To this end, its regional office for Asia-Pacific is engaging with multiple higher education institutions to promote entrepreneurship development, building a community of young people concerned about sustainable development and global citizenry, as well as awareness on how South-South and triangular can play a role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia-Pacific.
The competition brought together seven teams of students from six Universities in Thailand. Two teams, constituted of graduate level students from Mahidol and Thammasat Universities, contested to be crowned winners of the first speaking contest centred on the role of triangular cooperation in achieving sustainable development. Five undergraduate teams, from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Khon Kaen University, Maejo University, Suranaree University of Technology and a Thammasat University undergraduate team competed for the top spot in delivering their ideas on triangular cooperation.
Speaking at the event, the Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and the Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, Jorge Chediek, emphasized the need to engage young people in the sustainable development agenda. He underlined the potential of young people to contribute ideas to solving development challenges due to their mastery of technology which is better than at any other time before.
Mr. Adnan Aliani, the Director of the ESCAP Strategy and Programme Management Division noted that ESCAP works with youth under many initiatives and that working with the youth is the norm rather than the exception for UNESCAP.
The graduate teams presented their strong arguments on the topic: “Triangular cooperation has been praised by some and at the same time criticized by other people as a development modality. Take one side on the pro or con of the argument.” Likewise, the undergraduate teams supported their position on the topic: “Given that concepts of South-South and North-South cooperation exist, what is the necessity of triangular cooperation as a modality of development cooperation and sustainable development?”
While Thammasat and Maejo University were ranked as the top graduate and undergraduate teams respectively by the panel of judges, all participating students demonstrated that they had researched the subject of triangular cooperation thoroughly. They analysed its perceived strengths and challenges as well as its bridging role between South-South and North-South cooperation. Some even suggested new triangular cooperation projects with influence from their respective study disciplines as well as the then emerging coronavirus outbreak in the Asia-Pacific region.
The student competition falls under the UNOSSC platforms on Youth4South and Knowledge Management whereby the UNOSSC is reaching out to academic institutions to help distill and disseminate the messages about South-South and triangular cooperation at regional and national levels.
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