The ILO at Work: Results 2014-2015

Stepping up South-South and triangular cooperation

Today, new actors are shaping the development agenda and emerging countries are acting as strategic partners with other developing countries. South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) is a growing and complementary modality for ILO development cooperation.

The recent 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda called for the expansion of SSTC, and SDG 8 includes among its targets: “Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the SDGs, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.”

In addition, the ILO’s new Development Cooperation Strategy recognizes the importance of SSTC in capacity.

The years 2014–15 saw an unprecedented boost in SSTC, marking greater institutional awareness and capacity to identify and implement projects within an SSTC framework. This follows the South–South and Triangular Cooperation Strategy adopted by the ILO in 2012. In this period ten new partnerships were signed with middle-income countries and South–South and triangular cooperation partners, compared to six in 2012-13, showing a growth of 40 per cent and an increasingly diversified development cooperation portfolio. South-South and triangular cooperation are closely interlinked, and both must be seen as complementary to traditional North-South cooperation.

SSTC has gained particular momentum from the efforts of the BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India, Russian Federation, and South Africa) in 2014-15, including contributions of over USD 15 million over the past ten years – primarily from Brazil, India and South Africa, but also including contributions from Algeria, Panama, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) and others.

Some key results in the period include:
  • The first Arab States Regional South-South Development Expo was organized in Doha in February 2014, with the aim of ensuring knowledge sharing on what successfully promotes decent work for women and men, energy efficiency, renewable energy and water security. The Expo was key to supporting actors in the development and implementation of effective youth employment policies.
  • A Solutions Forum was organized by the ILO at the November 2014 UN South-South Development Expo, held in Washington D.C., where good SSTC practices were shared. The Forum addressed social protection, the social and solidarity economy, combating child labour, ensuring social dialogue, and fragile-to-fragile cooperation.
  • The ILO launched in 2014 a how-to guide on South-South and triangular cooperation and decent work, which targets practitioners – within the UN family and among tripartite partners – to help improve understanding of SSTC and decent work.
  • China is the United Nations Fund for South-South Cooperation’s largest partner and the second BRICS country to sign a South-South and triangular cooperation partnership agreement with the ILO. The ILO worked extensively with China on SSTC during 2014–15, including a project on expanding employment services & enhancing labour market information in Cambodia & Lao PDR, resulting in improved labour market efficiency and enhanced linkages and flows of information between jobseekers and employers in the two countries.
  • In May 2015 Brazil and the ILO set up a large-scale South-South project to promote decent work in cotton-producing countries in Africa and Latin America.
  • The ILO contributed to the 3rd Local Development Forum, held in Turin in October 2015, by suggesting ways of localizing the Decent Work Agenda through South-South and City-to-City Cooperation.
  • The Government of Algeria and the ILO signed an agreement in October 2015 to fund a South-South cooperation programme on social dialogue and social protection that will enable other African countries to benefit from Algeria's experience.

In the spotlight: IBSA countries partner with the ILO for young women and men in Haiti

Haiti remains a fragile State where most people still live in a precarious and vulnerable situation. Unemployment and under-employment are severe challenges (40.2% in the metropolitan area), especially among young women and men. The Haitian economy does not provide adequate opportunities for young workers to get their first job or start a business, and young workers are also often ill prepared to seize these opportunities where they exist.

An India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA)-ILO partnership was set up in Haiti in 2015 to promote the socio-economic integration of vulnerable children and young people in the Bel Air and Cité Soleil zones in Port-au-Prince. This programme gives professional training, job placement, and entrepreneurship and citizenship development practices to young women and men (14 to 30 years old) who have been victims of labour exploitation. The project is innovative in also working with the Brazilian NGO Viva Rio, which has extensive experience of building up citizenship in lower-income communities in Brazil and has been operational in Haiti since 2004. Although, strictly speaking, it is a South-South cooperation project, it paves the way for triangular practices: other development partners such as Norway have similar projects.