Ternary Approach to Development Funding: Triangular Cooperation

MalawiSouth-South Cooperation (SSC) is a broad framework of collaboration among countries of the Global South in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains. Involving two or more developing countries, it can take place on a bilateral, regional, intra-regional or inter-regional basis. SSC has existed for at least sixty years but it has gradually attained prominence in the past two decades.

A similar and even more effective approach is the Triangular Cooperation (TrC). As the name implies, it involves three actors, two from the developing South and one from the developed North. The latter can also be a multilateral / bilateral organisation. The role of the latter is to provide financial resources so that the countries of the South can exchange support based on their specific needs and challenges.

The rising economic strength of India has helped it in leveraging the TrC. In the past two decades, India has enjoyed a greater role in facilitating support by engaging in development partnerships with other developing countries thereby channeling bilateral, regional and multilateral flows. For instance, at the India-Africa Forum Summits in 2008 and 2011, India committed to establish about 100 institutions in different African countries to strengthen capacities at the pan-African, regional and bilateral levels.

We at the Development Alternatives Group believe that the TrC is a kind of cooperative approach that can be used as an effective tool in contributing towards attainment of all 17 SDGs. Moreover, it can be used to promote mutual advancement through which states, international organisations, academic institutions, civil society and the private sector can collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas such as agricultural development, climate change, access to quality livelihood opportunities, resource efficiency, urbanisation, health etc. TrC is not just a one-way assistance from donor to recipient but is a model where emphasis is firmly placed on capacity building, development of self-reliance and promotion of sustainable development in developing countries.

Over the past 20 years, the Development Alternatives Group has been actively engaged in implementing technology and knowledge transfer by utilising the TrC mechanism. Apart from that, it has also undertaken policy research and advocacy of clean technologies and imparted training and capacity building. During this period, it has successfully executed programmes in various countries in Africa, south and south-east Asia in the areas of energy-efficient and environmental-friendly construction technologies, low emission building materials, industrial waste utilisation and green agricultural practices. Some key countries include Nepal, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile, Afghanistan, Ghana and Malawi. Our activities have helped mitigate CO2 emissions, conserve critical natural resources and created employment opportunities in target regions.

Many developing countries that have emerged as important actors in the global economy have provided increasing support to other developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Regional and multilateral institutions assume an enhanced role in facilitating TrC and have an important role to play in the development of the global south. Yet, their administrative systems and institutional structures need to evolve to reflect the modalities of this type of cooperation. Moving forward, realising the full potential of TrC will involve more proactive engagement and support to southern provider countries by regional and multilateral funding institutions.

Dr. Soumen Maity

The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.

This blog first appeared as an editorial in Development Alternatives Newsletter April, 2020




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