South-South and triangular cooperation remain important cornerstones for development, as complements to traditional North-South cooperation. Their growing importance can be seen in inclusion in major development agenda such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Member States, as well as United Nations entities, are increasingly including South-South and triangular cooperation in their development plans, strategies and frameworks as means to achieve development results.

The 2030 Agenda placed a strong emphasis on the importance of good quality data to inform policy dialogues and decision making in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many Southern countries and non-state actors including think tanks have called for improved data collection on South-South cooperation for sound analysis on trends and challenges and eventual course adjustment. Systematic data collection would allow developing countries, sub-regions and regions to better design, implement and evaluate their own South-South cooperation projects and initiatives. Ultimately, performance measurement and high-quality evidence aim to support strategic decisions by relevant actors to improve effectiveness of South-South and triangular cooperation and enable a more favorable environment for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

There is growing evidence from developing countries themselves that point to demand for improved evaluation frameworks to ensure the sustainability of South-South cooperation.[1] Southern countries have stated that there should be a focus on the development, testing and steady application of monitoring and evaluation approaches that are specifically tailored to the principles and conduct of South-South and triangular cooperation, which is a major gap at the moment. This does not suggest problems intrinsic to this modality of cooperation but, rather, possible shortfalls in design, delivery, management and M&E. Thus, the developmental value of South-South and triangular cooperation – their ability to secure and help sustain a flow of benefits over time to Southern countries especially to excluded and marginalized populations – will require greater attention to these issues.

As interest in these modalities rises, so too have calls from stakeholders for discussions on approaches and methodologies to look at the impact that South-South and triangular initiatives are having. There are, however, a number of technical challenges which are faced when attempting to evaluate, or even assessing the impact of these initiatives. For example:

  • There is no one definition of South-South and triangular cooperation, which makes comparability between and across providers difficult.
  • There is a great diversity and heterogeneity in South-South and triangular activities and actors – providers use a range of modalities including financial support; technical cooperation; knowledge exchange; some also include South-South trade facilitation and investment promotion. This variety, often seen as a strength of South-South and triangular cooperation, makes collecting common, comparable data across providers difficult.
  • There are also differing views on how to measure the inputs. Some providers prefer to monetize their contributions. Others argue that monetization leads to an underestimation of real and mutual contributions or does not fully reflect the spirit and principles of South-South and triangular cooperation.
  • Different views exist on the extent to which information should be provided and to whom. Some Southern partners see their primary accountability is mutual between the governments involved in a certain South-South initiative, not to external parties, nor should it be applicable to use frameworks defined by “others”. Meanwhile, some providers and partners discuss whether there is a need for assessment and evaluation of South-South cooperation initiatives.

Many South-South and triangular stakeholders are already actively exploring ways to address some of these challenges. A number of potential frameworks have been developed, tested and proposed by partners, for example:

  • China Agricultural University recently released a report detailing a framework for assessment, based on China-United Republic of Tanzania collaboration.
  • NeST Africa chapter has developed a framework, drawn from 20 months of multi-stakeholder engagement and discussion. The framework was designed for the evaluation of SSC initiatives at both the project and the country level.
  • The Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) published the South-South Technical Cooperation Management Manual that presents a legal framework for South-South cooperation and establishes the need of an analytical framework for evaluation of Brazil’s cooperation projects.
  • AMEXCID (Mexico) have outlined a strategy towards the institutionalization of an evaluation policy. Pilots were designed to evaluate management processes, quality of services and products, as well as relevance and results.
  • Although India does not have an overarching assessment system, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) think tank have conducted limited case studies trying to develop a methodological toolkit and analytical framework for SSC impact assessment.

Impact assessments, monitoring, and evaluation for South-South and triangular cooperation are likely to be key discussion points at the upcoming Second United Nations High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40 Conference), to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in March 2019.



Given the upcoming BAPA+40 Conference, GSSD Expo 2018 is an opportune moment for stakeholders from across the development community, representing both the South and the North, to come together and:

  • Share home-grown frameworks and learn from each other’s’ approaches
  • Discuss challenges and lessons learned when designing and implementing these frameworks
  • Scope questions for further research and conversation



30 November 2018, 10:30 am – 11:50 am, Conference Room 11, UN HQ

10:30 – 10:40 Welcoming Remarks

Mr. Jorge Chediek, Director and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation

10:40 – 11:20 Moderated Discussion and Invited Discussants


Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director for Programmes and Operations, UNOSSC


Ms. Anna Maria Graziano, Vice – Coordinator of Trilateral South-South Cooperation Division, Brazilian Cooperation Agency (8 min)

Prof. Xiaoyun Li, Dean, China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (8 min)

Ms. Jiang Xiheng, Vice President, The China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD) (8 min)

Dr. George Chirima, Research Team Manager, Agricultural Research Council of South Africa (8 min)

Representative from the Government of Bangladesh (tbc)

Representative from the Islamic Development Bank (tbc)

11:20 – 11:45 Q&A / Open Discussion
11:45 – 11:50 Summary and Closing Remarks

Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director for Programmes and Operations, UNOSSC

The side event will be open to participation from all GSSD Expo attendees.




[1] Nairobi outcome document (A/RES/64/222)