Horizontal partnerships: Bogotá, Busan & beyond

Culminating a two-year process of learning and coalition-building, a workshop held last week in Bogota energized more than 140 representatives from 52 countries with the ever increasing verve of knowledge sharing and horizontal partnerships. In a vivid debate, clear-cut decisions were made in order to ensure that South-South and triangular cooperation help redefine development cooperation in a changing global setting. The next milestone is the IV High-Level Forum (HLF) on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, from 29 November to 1 December 2011, while also the upcoming G20 Summit in Cannes, on 3-4 November, will address the value of knowledge sharing in a multipolar world.

In Bogota, key stakeholders from policy, practice, civil society and academia took stock of the rich capital of evidence, practices and policy messages collected under the umbrella of the Task Team on South-South cooperation (TT-SSC) since its launch in September 2009. In sum, 32 case studies conducted by 28 Southern academic institutions and 160+ case stories covering more than 140 countries have informed an advanced draft Good Practice Paper on effective horizontal partnership [pdf]. The good practices were checked against the experiences and perspectives of discussants, enriching a final version which will now be brought to the G20 leaders and then launched at the Busan HLF.

The participants dedicated substantial time and energy to defining how horizontal partnerships inform an innovative and ambitious agenda in Busan. Guided by the so-called “building block”, or thematic pillar for the upcoming Forum (see [pdf]), a group of countries and multilateral institutions will now prepare high-level sessions with their leaders, as well as provide further food for the still evolving Busan outcome document [pdf]. In addition, participants supported the post-Busan proposals outlined in the “building block”, such as the design and implementation of guidelines for horizontal partnerships, the support to institutional capacities for knowledge exchange at the country level, the drafting and use of toolkits for triangular cooperation, as well as an evaluation framework to measure results and impact of South-South and triangular cooperation.

During the Bogotá discussions, equity, trust, mutual benefit and long-terms commitment were stressed as key elements for the future of development partnerships, especially in urgent areas such as climate change, state fragility, health and food security. Identifying concrete steps and clarifying actual political commitments, the attendees identified a series of steps to ensure that this agenda is fully included in the Busan event and its outcome document (see conclusions in [pdf]).

Beyond the Busan box, there was a consensus that the ideas, partnerships and achievements generated under the umbrella of the TT-SSC should become a pillar of this decade's development policies. While the TT-SSC mandate will come conclude in Busan, an in-depth debate is now looking into the need to build a strong, flexible platform which should be capable to continue bringing together countries and institutions under the ‘triple lens’ of policy, practice and analysis. Importantly, key players involved in the current TT-SSC process also perceive the need to further engage with a broad set of developing countries, including emerging economies, to help shape a common agenda for horizontal partnerships towards 2015.

Already this week, the proposals and prospects discussed in Bogotá have been submitted to the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness gathered in Paris in order to coordinate the final preparations of the Busan HLF. Up to the end of this month, more details will be available, and shared through this website, on how horizontal partnerships will inform this event as well as the G20 Summit, and how peers and partners plan to continue the work until 2015 and beyond.

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