Programme for South-South Cooperation between Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Programme for South-South Cooperation between Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Technology (5 hits),

Full Submission

Programme for South-South Cooperation between Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica.

In the frameworkof the UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992) in Rio de Janeiro, Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica separately entered into bilateral Sustainable Development Agreements (SDA) with the Kingdom of Netherlands being formalized in 1994. The Programme for South-South Cooperation between Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (henceforth PSC) grew out of those Bilateral Sustainable Development Agreements, in 2002, at the Rio+10, World Summit for Sustainable Development (Johannesburg). In the frameworkof this decision however, Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica realized the enormous potential for South-South cooperation and sustainable development that their past collaborations presented. In 2005, based on the priorities agreed inJohannesburg and the Millennium Development Goals, Costa Rica, Benin and Bhutan came under the umbrella of South-South Cooperation, with a US$13.2 million grant from the Kingdom of Netherlands. PSC was adopted into the foreign policy and national plans of each partner country by the respective High Level representatives. This set the stage for each government to incorporate SSC into their international relations agendas. In Bhutan this agenda was included in the 5-year Development Plan, Benin adopted it into its national policy and Costa Rica incorporated SSC into its National Development Plan and state policy in 2007. Aiming to convert ideas exposed in the Strategic Partnership Agreements and the Millennium Development Goals into concrete results, the four countries attended a multi-stakeholder workshop, a reunion where priorities, common challenges, and opportunities for collaboration were identified. Specifically, PSC identified four development goals that it would work towards.

1) Develop reciprocal projects on the ground that will generate knowledge and empower stakeholders. The results of these projects would be used as inputs for sector strategies and policy making. 2) Mobilize national governments, the civil society, and the academic and private sectors in partner countries to renew and reinforce commitment to sustainable development. 3) Contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction in partner countries, taking into account environmental, economic and cultural idiosyncrasies.

4) Explore the potential of South-South partnership to promote international commitments and mutual cooperation for sustainable development and experiment with a new North ? South ? South model of development cooperation.

These goals were set around four thematic areas which included: 1) sustainable tourism, 2) sustainable production and consumption chains, 3) conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, 4) access to sustainable energy and efficient energy use. Gender equity and women empowerment was a cross-cutting theme emphasized in all PSC projects. The PSC was meant to execute reciprocal projects of common interest between 2007 and 2011.

PSC ensures sustainability:

PSC recognized that the participation of private sector, local and community organizations ensures projects continuation in the medium and long run, by creating a strong sense of ownership among the stakeholders. In order to be eligible for PSC funding, the projects had to establish their sustainability in three ways:

? Organizational: each project described the organizational structure in place when the contractual relationship (between the PSC and the organization) would end. Roles and responsibilities, and the authority and control that will be exercised over the operations in each participating country were clarified at the onset.

? Economic: each project was expected to develop mechanisms that allowed actions to continue once the funding from PSC ended. These mechanisms included the development of new commercial products and services, income generation, new jobs options, improvement of efficiency in micro enterprises, development of new microenterprises.

? Environmental: each of the projects intended to efficiently manage water resources, energy, solid and liquid

waste, and CO2 emissions during project implementation.? PSC catalyses the transition to sustainability by supporting innovation in policies, seeding initiatives, replicating successes, establishing new partnerships with civil society organizations between the partner countries, and disseminating information.

Impressive Results The value of allowing the Southern partners take ownership is reflected in the impressive results achieved by PSC to date. Only 5 years in running, and with a relatively small fund, PSC has involved over 180 organizations to achieve the following results:

? 26.706 directbeneficiaries

? More than 2500 new jobs

? 374 new microenterprise

? 1.280 people participating in productive activities

? 1.227 people that are working in a productive activity related to the training

? 477 communities benefited

? 1.533 indigenous people trained

? 673 new products and 179 new services developed.

? 1160 women involved in decision making

? Microenterprises generated $250.000, 00 of incomes on 2010, by the sales of products and services made by

the project. The results obtained by each of the projects over-achieved the indicators that were planned since the beginning of the programme. PSC has incredible results on agricultural production, sustainable and efficient production schemes, green microenterprises and green jobs, products and services; a national and international impact that transferred technologies and knowledge among developing countries, and an important advance to sustainable development efforts and an example of how this kind of partnerships can generate green economies.

Given the commendable results that PSC has achieved over the years, efforts are currently underway to find a new source of funding showcasing PSC as a successful model of cooperation that can be easily replicated and improved with the participation of more partner countries of the South, PSC evolved into Partners for South-South Cooperation (PSSC), with the intention of including new partner countries.

PSC partnership,a replicable and scaling up model:

One of the most attractive features of PSC has been its transferability and sustainability. The ease and success of these adaptations can be attributed to the simple but ingenuous methodology of PSC, that allows efficient standardized training and Technology transfer, while remaining flexible and responsive to varied contexts.It is reflected in the verifiably positive impact that it has had on the stakeholders at both the local and national level on the three countries.

A recent UNDP report on scaling up MDGs argues that local actors play a pivotal role in achieving MDGs. These local actors include the government, local communities, the private sector and the civil society (UNDP, 2010). National and local leadership efforts are wasted if the stakeholders of these initiatives do not develop a sense of ownership. Without

this sense of local and national ownership among the different stakeholders, the actors involved will not put in an effort into the Project. The sense of ownership on the micro level can best be illustrated through the experience of the PSC, it is a good example of how local and national partnerships work together to achieve success.

The government continues to pass legislation, fund and implement initiatives, make declarations and set national goals to ensure persistence in conservation. The PSC is a good example of how local leadership can make an impact at the national level and international level. As a local action, had the advantage of knowing precisely the gaps in environmental context, it also had an easier time entering the communities, something that is always a problem for outside North-South partnership.

However, neither the scale up of each of the 36 projects, nor the successful implementation of sustainable development policies, would have been possible without the support created by the comprehensive institutional structures. PSC illustrates the importance of national institutions to environmental protection. Ownership at the micro-level feeds ownership at the macro-level where the government takes responsibility for sustainability. It?s important tooutlinethat government has taken on the onus of the overall management of sustainability efforts. Inspired by and working together with international actors, the government should create a comprehensive framework of policy, institutions and incentives that both support local ideas and promote national and international efforts.

PSC a successful partnership seeks for international support.

SSC is an innovative approach to development, an approach promoting effective development by learning and sharing knowledge, best practices, resources and technical know-how among developing countries (reciprocal learning). PSC were expected to generate results that would empower local communities but also provide inputs for national policies. In areas where grassroots initiatives were already well developed, PSC hoped to start second phase projects that would form the bridge between the micro and macro level implementation. PSC was aiming to initiate grassroots and micro-level projects the results of which would inform multi-stakeholder policy dialogue in the three partner countries. PSC projects were also expected to facilitate policy dialogue between the private and public sectors. PSC would also streamline and systematize knowledge transfer and best practices generated by the projects to allow for ease of transfer to beneficiaries within and outside of the projects.

The success formula of PSC was independence from donors, emphasis on real reciprocity and equality between members. Through PSC the three countries have come together sharing skills and knowledge on agriculture, environmental issues, efficient use of energy and much more. The reciprocal knowledge exchange and mutual learning had strengthened sectors such as academic, governmental, non-governmental organizations, private and civil society, and at the same time had increased cost effectiveness, promotes transfer of appropriate technologies and ensures local ownership, leadership and capacity building. This experience has shown that south-south countries can learn best practices from each other, by working closely together countries were able to tap into the diverse knowledge of each partner. The contributions of the 36 projects, to more than 25.000 beneficiaries in the three countries, have been not only financial but also technical, including services (training, technical assistance, information and business development services), market access, Technology transfer, research and others. This was possible by adapting to the national reality of each of the partners, the knowledge and the techniques exchanged.

With the PSC experience and the ideal of ?Thinking globally, acting locally? the program introduces a new perspective on cooperation, and invites development countries to establish strategic partnerships that allow them a unique development process to face similar needs, interests and challenges by supporting South-South Cooperation. As it was mentioned, one of the main lessons learned through PSC is that the exchange of experiences between countries allows and improves the

capacity building of all the participating partners. The exchange of knowledge, technologies and culture represents a new way to achieve sustainable development.

So in accordance to this experience, developing-country partners can support this process by:

? Increasing the scale of engagement, by enhancing Technology transfer and learning, enact effective financial and political compromise to developingpartners programs and iniciatives. It?s also important to encourage reciprocal actions (SSC) that focuses on relevant topics like:

? o Environmental protection through the sustainable use of biodiversity and the efficient use of energy.

? o Establishment of gender equity as a cross-cutting theme on every action.

? o Development of productive initiatives in order to generate employments and increase incomes (reduce poverty).

? o Enhancing people?s access to sufficient food through organic agricultural production and commercialization.

? o Climate change as a result of implementation of low-cost effective technologies, organic production, etc. among many other themes for sustainable development.

? Cooperationthrough the implementation and support of partnerships as an essential model to eradicate poverty (an indispensable requirement for sustainable development).

? To give special priority to ALL developing countries, as the most vulnerable actors. Adaptation and mitigation actions that seeks for environmental improvement and development of all developing countries.

Additionally, the triangular cooperation like the one developed on the PSC Program (between the Kingdom of Netherlands, Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica) demonstrates how countries from the South with the economical help of the North can co-operate in a spirit of ?global partnership?, were everyone is aware of their responsibilities and take part of a common action to improve the quality of life of the people.The North, representative by development countries and international organization, has a vital role to play in SSC provided this role permits the South partners the autonomy needed to carve out their own paths towards development. It is important to support through South-South Cooperation a more cost effective type of cooperation, since developing partner countries have similar societies, economies values and visions when compared with northern partners.

From the other hand, it?s also valuable the support of international organizations, as mechanism that support South-South Cooperation mainly through programs, networks, and information systems that promote cooperation among developing countries.

PSC partnership important lessons for Rio+20and: future SSC activity:

? South-South Cooperation can and has produced very impressive results despite possible skepticism surrounding the idea. At the start of PSC many were worried that the overhead and management of a program between three vastly different Southern nations would be too complicated for a successful development initiative. 3 years and more than 26.000 direct beneficiaries later, the PSC results speak for themselves. The program has indisputably shown that once momentum is gathered, the running of SSC is neither complicated, nor expensive.

? PSC can generate green economies through the implementation of a model that look to transfer technologies and knowledge among developing countries, and the promotion of social development by agricultural production, sustainable and efficient production schemes, green microenterprises and green jobs, products and services

? Language, culture, religion and geography are not barriers to cooperation. Although language and culture may establish a first start problem, these problems were long forgotten. If anything, experiences from PSC projects have showed that language ceases to be an issue at the grassroots level where beneficiaries learn through

hands on experience. All interviewees were eager to learn about the culture of their partners and most project involved cultural learning along with Technology and skill transfers.

? Permitting greater autonomy and responsibility among the Southern partners leads to a strong sense of ownership and accountability and hence more efficient results. Traditional North-South relationships had engendered an expectation of the beneficiaries that the North will always give them money as a ?gift?. So when the funding ran out, projects would stop because the beneficiaries were expecting the donor to give them more money and to tell them what to do with it. The PSC has done a lot to change this attitude. PSC has shown that when the providing partner is willing to allow the receiving partners make their own decisions, the receiving partners take on responsibility for the project?s success, by creating a sense of ownership; SSC has made the Southern partners a lot more active in their projects. PSC went from one partner only giving and the other partner only taking to a relationship of give-and-take. They become accountable not only to their constituencies and to the provider, but also to each other.

? Technology and knowledge transfer is most efficient when counterparts identify with each other. Being able to see firsthand the success of other farmers or producers using the same techniques that they were teaching proved to be a lot more convincing for beneficiaries than any set of empirical evidence would.

? South-South Cooperation has to be based on reciprocity, equality, and participation in order to succeed.

The absence of any one of these pillar would distort the SSC, hampering the comfortable and conducive environment that allows partners to freely express their views. This ensures that all partners are on the same page and everyone ones that they have the right to complain if they feel that one of these principles is violated.

? International actors and pressures can play a role in conservation but only as motivators for national actions. Many important conservation efforts were initiated and the indispensability of international funding cannot be denied, but these efforts would have been wasted had they not been matched by national creativity, local enthusiasm and hard work. This sort of interaction between international and national actors is noted on PSC.

? SSC will not replace North-South Cooperation. PSC?s North-South-South collaboration shows that development will only be possible if both the North and the South come together under a respectful and reciprocal partnership that makes the best of each other?s comparative advantages and allows each partner to put in the greatest effort. Each partner has a lot to learn from the other and achieving development goals without help from the North would be impossible.


Developed and developing countries lacks of sufficient high-level political support to carry on international climate change commitments. PSC?s experience provide the impetus, results and necessary lessons for the introduction of a new model of development cooperation, based on mutual respect, reciprocity, participation and the willingness to teach and be taught, to improved path towards achieving global development goals. This made possible the effective implementation of PSC on the development of each of the 36 reciprocal projects.Developed countries play a key role as a financial support of SSC; this kind of cooperation and results are possible with the financial support of North countries.


PSC. (2005). Regulations: Programme for South-South Cooperation on Sustainable Development between Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica.

UNDP. (2010). Scaling up Support for the MDGs at the Local Level: A Global Programme Partnership Proposal.

Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New