There are many different ways to enhance South-South cooperation through knowledge exchanges and learning. The instruments and methods that are chosen will depend on the objectives, audiences, and desired outcomes. In order to achieve a more sustainable learning experience with greater impact and results, a blended-learning approach is often used. This approach combines several different instruments, learning methods and resources and applies them in an interactive and meaningful way. Below is a developing list of instruments that can be used alone or in a blended format to further South-South cooperation. We hope that this list, while not comprehensive, will help further discussions around instruments for South-South cooperation and examples of how they have been used.

Practitioner/Peer Networks and Communities of Practice

Networks and communities of practice are one of the most highly used and growing mechanisms for South-South cooperation and learning. They can be loosely defined as a group of practitioners who work and learn together around a certain topic over a period of time, and are highly adaptable to a variety of different contexts. They can range from the formal, which will typically include a formal philosophy, mission, structure, leadership, membership and funding, to the informal, based on the objective of receiving reciprocal exchange of information and knowledge. Typically, South-South networks exist for one or more of the following reasons: raising awareness, sharing information, prompting action, developing capacity, conducting research, or conducting advocacy campaigns.

In recent years, the proliferations of Web 2.0 tools have provided a number of ways to build and sustain peer networks, communities of practice, exchange platforms, knowledge banks, and social networking mechanisms. These mechanisms can be formal, such as UNDP’s WIDE program, DFID’s PERii program, or more informal, such as Blogs, Facebook, Dig, Wikis and other social networking sites.

Field Visits and Study Tours

Field visits and study tours, where practitioners from one country visit another with specific learning goals, are one of the most frequently used and well-known forms of advancing South-South learning and knowledge exchange. They are useful when the objective is for policy makers and practitioners to experience first-hand how similar challenges have been tackled in other countries.

Study tours are most effective when: the right participants are selected; they are blended with other instruments (e.g. preparatory virtual meetings to establish understanding of objectives and expectations); adequate time is allowed to examine all aspects of a program; there are well-defined follow-up actions (e.g. summary of lessons learned, development of action plans, mentoring and twinning arrangements); and when the experience is captured in a user-friendly format to share with other audiences.


Summits and Conferences

Summits, conferences are often used as mechanisms of South-South knowledge exchange and learning. They provide forums to bring leaders (e.g. ministers, high level policy makers, practitioners, public and private sector executives, academics) together to exchange ideas, experiences and lessons and advance specific areas of work. While they are important mechanisms for building and maintaining relationships, they are most powerful when combined with specific follow-up activities and a clear structure for funding and integration into existing programs.


Competitions and Knowledge Fairs

“Collaborative” competitions and knowledge fairs, such as World Bank’s Development Marketplace and ASHOKA’s Changemakers, are quickly becoming important instruments for South-South knowledge exchange and learning. Competitions and knowledge fairs create incentives for practitioners to share models and approaches in public settings that can be leveraged for replication and scale-up.


Just-In-Time Knowledge Exchanges

In today’s rapidly changing world, there is a growing demand for just-in-time knowledge exchanges, as development practitioners seek to bring in the best solutions and ideas to their development projects and programs. There is often a pressing need to cost-effectively reach out to diverse and relevant audiences around the world, seek just-in-time advice and lessons on ‘what works’ and ‘what does not work’, and be able to forge partnerships with peers and institutions working in development.

Platforms such as the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) are useful to connect knowledge (i.e. those who need to know with those who have the experiences), facilitate active debates on frontier development issues (e.g. climate change adaptation), host multi-stakeholder dialogues, and to bring cutting-edge global knowledge from other countries to local audiences.


Structured Learning Platforms: Courses and Workshops

The outputs of study tours, practitioner networks, just-in-time knowledge exchanges, conferences and knowledge fairs can be captured (as video case-studies, expert interviews podcasts, experience reports, etc.) and form the basis for larger knowledge bases of learning materials. These knowledge bases can feed into structured learning activities such as e-learning courses and face-to-face workshops. Structured learning platforms can complement knowledge exchange activities by helping develop core skills and competencies for a wide group of practitioners.


Common Purposes of SSC, Knowledge Exchange and Learning

The still developing concepts of South-South cooperation, knowledge exchange and learning mean that they have been used by a wide range of actors and for different purposes. Below is a table with three of the most commonly seen goals of South-South cooperation. We hope this community will be able to help define these concepts and others as they develop.




Level of Engagament

To share best practices, toolkits, instruments and technical solutions to common development challenges

To have policymakers exchange ideas and see how policies may have worked on the ground in a particular setting, can be used to ”unblock” reform

To develop and hold a common position on regional and global political issues vis-à-vis northern countries, solidarity between members in similar situations

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Comment by Enrique Mesones on October 8, 2015 at 12:55pm

Hello there.. I'm very interested in collaborating with South-South.
We specialized in 1) Digital Society: Educating citizens on how to use new technologies in proper ways to improve the quality of their living and working environments and 2) Digital Knowledge: Putting useful information into digital formats that are widely accessible.

I’d like to propose Real Time Communications to build Interactive South-South. We have the knowledge, capabilities and expertise. Who may I contact? Thanks for any advice and follow up!

-WebRTC is part of HTML5 Open Standards. It was first introduced in 2011. Published by 3 leading scientific bodies, IEEE, IEFT, and W3C, Google first embraced WebRTC and adapted its use into Google Hangout.
-Today after CES 2015 release, WebRTC represents $7 Trillion of $19 Trillion IoT (Internet of Things). It is the new standards for real-time communications.

-When WebRTC was conceived, we watched its birth. Since 2011, we have conducted studies on its attributes, impacts, progress, limitations and deployment.
-On January 2015 after four (4) years of core engineering and software development we introduced NS RTC as Pure HTML5 WebRTC.
-From January to May 2015 we conducted pilot cases. Since June 2015 we have been shepherding beta tests.

We're currently assisting Governments, Municipalities, Industries, Universities, Hospitals in building the pillars for a Digital Economy. We bring Interactive to Life!

We can communicate using our new communications system. Our Technology is No Download, No Install, No Plug-ins, No Change in your device settings, No special hardware or software required, Works on PC, MAC, Linux and Android Smart Phones, Works on leading networks and Wi-Fi spots.

Let’s schedule a call.

Please, open the following link in “Chrome Browser” and “allow” video:

Using background Controls click Volume Up and watch the video. TELE EDUCATION! It's very impressive!

My best regards,

Enrique Mesones


South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism. First online portal dedicated to SSC for sustainable development.

Mapping Multilateral Support to South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Towards Collaborative Approaches. UNDP, 2011. Download PDF (English version) (Versión en Español)


IDB  Magazine - Regional Public Goods: An innovative approach to South-South Cooperation, 2014 version here in English and Spanish.

Using Knowledge Exchange for Capacity Development: What Works in Global Practice? KDI and The World Bank Institute



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