Knowledge Sharing in the G20 agenda - Takeaways from the Mexico meeting

Bruno Figueroa (Mexico), Dasa Silovic (UNDP) and Jaesun Lee (Korea)

[See update on the G20 report below]


Recognizing the potential of South-South and triangular knowledge sharing on development solutions, the G20 asked in November last year the Task Team on South-South cooperation (TT-SSC) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to come up with policy recommendations and concrete proposals for how to scale up knowledge sharing as a full-fledged tool for development. On 30 May, the Steering Group responsible for drafting the recommendations met in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Mexico City to agree on the contents of the G20 report on Knowledge Sharing (see the final report here), which will be submitted to the G20 Development Working Group in its meeting in Cape Town at the end of June.

A lively discussion gathered ideas from representatives of Mexico and Korea (the co-facilitators of the G20 Knowledge Sharing pillar), France (holding the G20 presidency), Canada, Colombia, the European Commission, Italy, the OECD, UNDP, the TT-SSC and the World Bank Institute.

From this debate, the main aspects for peer learning, especially among developing countries, to become more systematic and wide-spread can be summarized as follows:

[1] At the political level, knowledge sharing needs to be recognized as a 'third dimension' of development cooperation, which goes beyond financial support and technical cooperation. All players should now engage in incorporating knowledge exchange in their strategies, including multilateral organizations and especially developing countries, which might want to embed peer learning in their national development and capacity development plans.

[2] With knowledge exchange still being a new form of cooperation, criteria and benchmarks would be useful for guiding the scaling up, be it through multilateral channels or in country-led initiatives. This relates to four main dimensions: the matching of demand and supply for knowledge, the mix of modalities used for the exchange, flexible and predictable funding, as well as best practices and continued learning. The G20 report will offer clear guidance on these points, based on the evidence captured by the TT-SSC and other players, which in the future might be monitored in collaboration with Southern academia.

[3] In the context of G20, there is now an opportunity to put together efforts and initiatives in a strong global partnership for knowledge sharing. Multilateral organizations might coordinate their activities of connecting countries and institutions in the developing world, while developing countries can deepen their capacities of sharing and adapting successful development solutions and models.

[4] One concrete way of implementing these ideas goes through including knowledge sharing in the thematic G20 development pillars. In cases such as the G20 pillars on food security and social protection, there are already plans to use peer-to-peer learning as a strategy for generating and improving capacities, which might be supported with the adapted proposals from the G20 knowledge sharing pillar.

While these high level discussions are given a strong political backing, dozens of Southern universities are finalizing in-depth studies on how knowledge is being exchanged among peers and what can be done to strengthen this form of cooperation. In collaboration with academia from 20 countries and involving hundreds of practitioners and policy-makers, the TT-SSC is gathering this Southern-led evidence as a rich basis for drawing benchmarks and providing rigorous inputs, with a strong grip on reality, to both the G20 knowledge sharing agenda and the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness later this year (see how the TT-SSC case studies fit into the G20 pillars [pdf]). The outcomes of these studies will be shared over the next weeks, here on

-- UPDATE --

See the G20 Report "Scaling Up Knowledge Sharing for Development - A Working Paper for the G-20 Development Working Group, Pillar 9", June 2011 in pdf here.

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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.

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