A top UN official has hailed India for its “thoughtful leadership and commitment” to advancing high-impact South-South cooperation, as New Delhi stressed that it has never let geography or geometry “define us” as it assists countries across the developing world.
India’s Permanent Mission to the UN organised a special event here on Friday to mark the fifth anniversary of the USD 150 million India-UN Development Fund.
Addressing the event, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in a video message that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated in stark terms the need for global, intergenerational solidarity and new ways to cooperate towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
The pandemic “tested the limits of our existing social contract and is reshaping how we understand our roles and responsibilities in achieving shared goals. That’s why the USD 150 million India-UN Fund is so significant. It represents a distinctive and successful example of how we can advance and adapt South-South cooperation to be timely and responsive to emerging country needs,” she said.
Mohammed thanked India for its “thoughtful leadership and its commitment” to advancing high-impact South-South cooperation. “Let us use this positive momentum and scale up our commitments” towards the achievement of the SDGs, she said.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, delivering the keynote address, said that in the past five years, the Fund and the footprint of its activities have grown by leaps and bounds. “Today, India and the UN in their collaborative efforts through this Fund are setting new benchmarks for South-South cooperation.
He said historically, India has prioritised cooperation over conflict, coexistence over competition, sharing over receiving, plurality over hegemony and shared prosperity over zero-sum notions of growth. Over the years, India’s development partnership has evolved organically to become a complete and comprehensive framework touching upon the full spectrum of human endeavour.
“Our own journey of development in the last 75 years brings forth many templates for other developing countries of the South. Be it digital connectivity, financial inclusion or over 2 billion vaccinations, India offers scalable solutions and stands ever-ready to share these solutions with other developing countries,’ he said.
Muraleedharan said it is imperative that in the post-COVID recovery, achievement of the sustainable development goals is prioritised by focusing on vulnerable areas such as LDCs, especially in Africa and the small island country states.
Mechanisms like the India-UN Development fund act as an effective tool to focus on critical areas such as climate resilience, financial sustainability, gender equality, renewable energy, improving maternal health, education, disaster recovery and risk management and agriculture development, he added.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that India has a deep and very abiding commitment to South-South and developing cooperation.
“For us it is truly a partnership amongst friends. This is not a donor-donee issue. We have never let geography define us. We have never let geometry define us as we assist countries across the developing world,” she said, adding that this is not just empty rhetoric.
“We have truly walked the talk,” she said as she cited the example of the pandemic and the supply of 240 million doses of COVID vaccines by India to more than 100 countries across the globe. “A very powerful statement on vaccine support and vaccine equity. I will rest my case here,” she said.
Turning to the current food crisis, Kamboj said India has extended humanitarian assistance to all “partners and friends, be it Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen and Sri Lanka. “Our approach above all is human-centric, based on mutual respect and national ownership,” she said.
The USD 150 million India-UN Development Partnership Fund, established in 2017 by the Government of India to work with developing countries in a spirit of South-South cooperation, has forged partnerships with 51 partner countries on 66 development projects during its first five years.
The United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) manages the Fund. Projects are implemented in collaboration with the United Nations system and partnering Governments, a statement said.
Supporting Southern-owned and -led, demand-driven and transformational sustainable development projects across the developing world, with a focus on Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, the Fund’s thematic reach spans all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with several initiatives addressing multiple Goals, it added.
Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme Usha Rao-Monari said South-South and triangular cooperation is the cornerstone of the sustainable development vision and strategy of the UNDP, but also the larger and broader UN system.
She said without such collaboration and cooperation the transfer of knowledge and transfer of expertise becomes almost impossible and added that the Fund is one of the important catalysts in the world today to make sure that that kind of transfer of knowledge, expertise and experience occurs.
Several Permanent Representatives, including those of Belize, Fiji, Malawi, Morocco, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, Resident Coordinators, UN leaders and ambassadors share their perspectives and stories of the impact of the fund in their respective countries.
“This has been a remarkable journey for resilience, global solidarity, development and success, championed by India,” Ambassador Permanent Representative of The Gambia Lamin Dibba said. “India’s historic role in championing the attainment of the global development goals, including the SDGs has revitalised hope among the Group of 77 and Least Developed Countries that the future is bright.” The India-UN Development Partnership Fund Year-in-Review report was launched during the event.