Nairobi, 28 October 2013 - Hundreds of high-level delegates from 150 countries and across the United Nations system gathered at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi on Monday to tackle development challenges by harnessing and exchanging innovative solutions developed in the global South.
South-South cooperation is the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries. Today, over US$5 trillion in reserves are held by countries of the global South, which now also account for 47 per cent of global trade.
This unparalleled economic development opportunity could be one of the main engines of growth in the years ahead.
Organized by the UN Office of South-South Cooperation and hosted by UNEP under the theme "Building inclusive green economies," the Global South-South Development Expo is the world's biggest stage for development solutions created in the South for the South.
"The transition to inclusive green economies is essential to the economic and social development of countries all over the world," said UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director and Achim Steiner. "However, no one nation, community or agency has all the answers."
"This is why so many inspirational initiatives have gathered at this expo-a mirror to the collective creativity of nations, cities, companies and citizens-to galvanize action that will place the Global South on the pathway to a sustainable, low-carbon, green future," he added.
High level participants include former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa, Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection of China Wu Xiaoqing, Vice-President of the High-Level Committee of the UN General Assembly on South-South Cooperation and Deputy Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN Zsolt Hetesy, Ambassador of Brazil to Kenya and Permanent Representative to UNON, UNEP and UN-Habitat Marcela Maria Nicodemos, Chairman of the Development Assistance Committee of OECD Erik Solheim and UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.
"Over the past three decades the Global South has witnessed unprecedented growth and expansion of incomes, bolstering of trade, lifting of hundreds of millions from poverty and emergence of a growing middle class," said Mr. Hetesy. "Much, in this unfolding phenomenon stems from a very noticeable surge in the practice and advancement of South-South cooperation by Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders."
"Solutions originating in the Global South are delivering results around the world," said Mr. Eliasson. "This expo is a concrete expression of the partnerships we need for the path we seek."
"There are more common benefits shared among developing countries than differences, and this should push more strategic policy dialogue and pragmatic cooperation," said Mr. Xiaoqing. "We encourage traditional donor partners to actively participate in the South-South and take advantage of market power to attract the private sector and non-governmental organizations."
Events featured throughout the Expo's first day included a ribbon cutting to inaugurate the Expo's exhibition pavilion- a unique space housing over 70 individual exhibitors in interactive booths.
A high-level Leadership Round Table will bring together senior UN officials, Member States, business and corporate sector representatives to share their experiences of South-South cooperation.
Moderated by CNN journalist Zain Verjee, the event will focus on green economy initiatives that have improved the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the poor, as well as the quantity and quality of jobs, in different parts of the world. They will also explore the role that South-South cooperation will play in the years beyond 2015.
Events throughout the week will spotlight real-life examples of South-South Cooperation.
The Expo's first Solution Exchange Forum will be held under the theme, "Building Inclusive Green Economies: Policy Drivers and Best Practices from South-South Cooperation."
It will present examples of innovative projects in developing countries that are already contributing tangible benefits to the environment, economic development and decent job creation.
A total of 16 Partnership Forums will be held, with topics ranging from youth volunteerism to China-Africa business in support of green growth.
Over six energy ministers from Africa will meet during a partnership forum held in the context of the Expo that will spotlight the role that oil and gas can play in the transition to a green economy.
The forum will present success stories from Africa, where revenues from oil were used to invest in renewable energy and develop more sustainable energy sources.
Experts will also introduce the South-South Energy Initiative, a formalized mechanism and strategic hub for discussion on issues facing Southern energy producers.
Ministers of oil, petroleum or energy from Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan and Uganda will engage in an interactive discussion during the forum.