The report

What is the Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America?

This annual document summarizes, systematizes and analyzes South-South Cooperation among Ibero-American countries and with other developing regions. The report, which has been published since 2007, is the only document of its kind in a developing region.

This is the 12th edition of a report in constant evolution, which is now firmly established as an international benchmark.

Who prepares the report and how?

The technical team of the South-South Cooperation Unit of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) has prepared and published this report for over a decade at its headquarters in Madrid, directly engaging with the Ibero-American countries through their cooperation agencies and/or bureaus and the Ibero-American Program to Strengthen South-South Cooperation (PIFCSS).

The Ibero-American countries jointly agree on the contents of the Report, the method for recording information and the definition of concepts, thus making this report an exercise in South-South Cooperation. The countries involved in the drafting process work at the technical and political level.

What are the main features of the 2019 Report?

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    The first chapter is prepared by the Heads of Ibero-American Cooperation, the authorities responsible for cooperation in each member country. In particular, this chapter reflects on how Triangular and South-South Cooperation can continue to meet the challenges and the many complexities associated with a scenario marked by the emergence of new actors and the establishment of new partnerships.

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    The 2019 Report analyses and systematises a total of 1,310 South-South Cooperation programs, projects and actions carried out, identifying the leading actors and partnerships, and the most strengthened sectoral areas through South-South Cooperation. The analysis is structured around one chapter per each of the recognized modalities of cooperation.

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    The Integrated Ibero-American Database System on South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SIDICSS) provided the data. This is the first regional information system set up for countries to compile and share information on South-South Cooperation.

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    The Report includes a chapter (#5) on South-South Cooperation implemented between Ibero-American countries and developing countries from other regions, including the non Ibero-American Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Middle East.

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    The Report also includes a country-based analysis for each Ibero-American country in the annex. These 22 country profiles provide greater insight into the characteristics of the SSC provided and received by each country in the region.

Results by chapter

Chapter 1. South-South Cooperation after the BAPA+40: necessary partnerships to face complex challenges

The chapter analyses the challenges faced by SSC and Triangular Cooperation after the Buenos Aires Plan of Action Plus 40 (BAPA+40), in particular with regard to the need to incorporate new actors and to build with them new and complex partnerships. In fact, the partnerships for the development goals captured in SDG #17 refer to the need of joining efforts to achieve sustainable development through the exchange of knowledge, experiences, technology and various types of resources.

Thus, the chapter begins with a brief historical review —from the Bandung Conference (1955) to BAPA+40 (2019)—, which shows how different actors have been getting involved in development cooperation. As a result, new action areas are created in SSC and Triangular Cooperation as a response to four key actors: decentralised governments (subnational and local), organised civil society, the academia and the private sector.   Their individual capacity to contribute, with different potentials and in partnership with the States, to the effective and sustainable resolution of development challenges and goals through South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation, is well acknowledged.

Chapter 2. Ibero-America and Bilateral South-South Cooperation

The nineteen Latin American countries exchanged 733 projects and 160 bilateral SSC actions in 2017. That year Mexico was the top provider country of bilateral SSC (158 projects, equivalent to 21.5 % of the total), followed by Chile, Argentina and Brazil (with an aggregated share of 44.4 %).

In contrast, in the role of recipient countries, El Salvador was the country that engaged in the highest number of exchange projects with a total of 82 projects (11.2 %), followed by Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina. These four countries, each of them with a number of projects between 58 and 63, jointly accounted for a third of the total exchange projects in 2017.

On the other hand, the majority of bilateral SSC projects in implementation phase during 2017 (35.5 %) contributed to strengthen capacities in the Social area. Another one third of the projects (34.0 %) focused on economic objectives, with a clear prioritisation of those aimed at strengthening the productive sectors rather than the creation of infrastructures and services.

In particular, in 2017 the highest number of bilateral SSC projects were aimed at the Health sector, followed in order of relevance by the Agriculture and livestock sector, the Strengthening of institutions and public policies, and the Environment sector. The last one deserves special attention, as the analysis shows that the exchange projects aimed at the protection and preservation of the environment have experienced the highest growth over time.

Chapter 3. Triangular Cooperation in Ibero-America

In 2017 Ibero-America participated in a total of 127 projects and 37 actions of Triangular Cooperation. The aggregate number (164 initiatives) indicates an increase of 13.6 % compared to the previous year.

Up to 12 Ibero-American countries acted as first providers of Triangular Cooperation during 2017, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica. Also, 18 countries and 13 intergovernmental organisations acted as second providers. Spain played a crucial role in 2017 as the provider of 33 Triangular Cooperation projects, equivalent to more than a quarter of the total. Germany and Luxembourg accounted for one third. Finally, in the role of recipient countries, the most common situation was that of several countries simultaneously acting as recipients, followed by individual actions undertaken by El Salvador and Bolivia, which accounted for over 25 % of all exchange projects as recipients.

Triangular Cooperation helped countries to strengthen their capacities in various dimensions, including the Social and Environmental area (33 and 32 projects, respectively). Also, five sectors accounted for 6 out of 10 Triangular Cooperation projects implemented in 2017: Environment, Agriculture and livestock, Social policies and other services, Health and the Strengthening of institutions and public policies.

Chapter 4. Ibero-America and Regional South-South Cooperation

In 2016, the Ibero-American countries participated in at least 102 initiatives of Regional South-South Cooperation, which were implemented through 50 projects and 52 programs. Costa Rica, Mexico and Colombia showed the highest dynamism in that modality, each of them having taken part in 63 programs and projects.

All initiatives were endorsed by the participation of a multilateral organisation. In addition, almost 3 out of 10 implemented initiatives were supported by a multilateral actor member of the Ibero-American area and almost one fifth was the result of the active participation of Central American organisations.

Finally, in 2017 Regional SSC showed a significant widespread participation in different areas of action. Culture was the sector that encompassed the highest number of Regional SSC (18.6 %), followed by Environment.

Chapter 5. Ibero-America and South-South Cooperation with other regions

In 2017, Ibero-American countries participated in 319 South-South Cooperation programs, projects and actions with developing countries from other regions.  The prime Ibero-American partner in over 40 % of the total number of initiatives was the non Ibero-American Caribbean (a trend closely related to geographical proximity), followed by Africa (almost 30 %) and Asia (20 %). In contrast, exchange projects with Oceania and the Middle East were merely occasional.

Also, in 2017 the main bulk of exchange initiatives (82 %) undertaken by Ibero-American countries with developing countries from other regions were implemented through Bilateral South-South Cooperation, which was the preferred cooperation modality in all regions. However, Triangular Cooperation (7.2 %) was more present in the non Ibero-American Caribbean and Africa. Finally, the non Ibero-American Caribbean was a partner in almost all initiatives undertaken using one of the modalities of Regional SSC; the initiatives where Africa participated as a partner were merely occasional.

South-South Cooperation in each Ibero-American country

A report summarising the main data on South-South Cooperation actions where each of the 22 Ibero-American countries took part in 2017 was prepared. These country profiles provide an overview of the cooperation modalities used by each country, the roles they played, their preferred partners, the sectoral capacities strengthened through these exchanges and, in line with the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs to which this cooperation could contribute.

Click on the corresponding country flag or silhouette to download the country profile of each Ibero-American country.

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Executive Summary

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Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America 2016












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Iberoamerican General Secretariat

Paseo de Recoletos, 8
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Ibero-american program for the strengthening of South-South Cooperation

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