South-South Cooperation's contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America 2017 continues to delve deeper into the analysis of South-South Cooperation by revising its contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Recognized as an effective way of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, the review of Bilateral South-South Cooperation projects and their contribution to the SDGs rendered several findings. On the one hand, those resulting from the classification of projects according to the main SDG to which they contribute and, on the other hand, those obtained from analyzing and reviewing the link between different SDGs.

SSC projects' contribution to the SDGs

As seen in the graph, the projects registered in chapter 2 of the (Bilateral SSC) report were clustered according to the main SDG to which they contributed. It was concluded that:


The SDG to which more projects sought to contribute was SDG 3 (health and well-being). Indeed, it accounted for almost one in five of the registered projects (19.4%).

The bulk of the projects categorized under Health sector in the classification system followed by SEGIB are supplemented by other projects that focused on, for instance, reproductive health, which is closely associated with SDG 5 (gender equality).

In further reviewing the projects associated with this SDG, the number of projects geared towards targets 3.4 (non-communicable diseases, mental health and well-being) and 3.8 (quality health services, achieve universal health coverage, safety and access to medicines and vaccines) exceeded by far those focusing on other targets.


SDG 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure was the fourth SDG in relevance. It accounted for almost 10% of the projects, especially under targets 9.2 (sustainability and raise industry’s share of gross domestic product) and 9.5 (enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors, encouraging innovation).

ODS 5,10

SDGs 10 and 5, which are closely linked to inequality issues, represented 5.5% of the total.


With almost 15% of the projects (14.7%), SDG 2 was the SDG with the second most projects, with a particular focus on not only food security and nutrition (targets 2.1 and 2.2), but also, all matters related to the agricultural sector, whether on the production side (such as increase in productivity), or environmental and sustainability dimension (targets 2.3 and 2.4, respectively).


SDG 8 was the backbone of only 6.9% of the projects, although it was indirectly, widely present in many others.


Lastly, SDG 4 on education, which accounted for 9.5% of all projects, was widely distributed between its more generic component (directly linked to the priority goal) and projects related to a certain sector that had SDG 4 as a secondary goal.

ODS 16

As for SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), 11.6% of the projects were geared to its achievement. This accounts for 11.6% of the projects, of which 64.9% were closely related to target 16.6 (effective and transparent institutions).

Targets 16.3 and 16.1 (reduction of violence and related mortality rates and promoting the rule of law and access to justice) under this goal also accounted for a large number of projects (31.1%).

ODS 12,15,13,6,14

As for SDGs with a strong environmental component, including SDGs 6 (Water and Sanitation), 12, 13, 14 and 15, together they accounted for 14% of all projects. The larger projects in this group were clustered under SDG 6 (water, sanitation and water resources management).

The relationship between different SDGs in South-South Cooperation

Another notable finding from this SDG-based analysis derived from the identification of approximately 60% of the projects that contributed to at least two SDGs. This allowed us to examine and make visible the more intense links between different SDGs. As the string diagram shows:

ODS 3, 2

SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 3 (good health and well-being) had the most intense relationship. This is justified by the large number of projects that simultaneously contributed to both goals.

These projects include milk banks (linked to infant mortality and malnutrition goals), food safety, pest control, food- and/or agricultural product-borne diseases, which contributed not only to prevent diseases, but also to improve food quality.

ODS 3, 4

SDG 3 (health) and SDG 4 (education) were also paired in several projects, in particular, in specific scholarship programs for health professionals, thus simultaneously contributing to improving health services, and educational goals and increasing men and women’s access to higher education.

ODS 2,8

SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). The projects under these SDGs were geared towards developing the agricultural production sector, thus helping to eradicate hunger through improved land productivity, sustainable production or improved food quality.

The development of this sector, as well as improvements in productivity, also contributed to economic growth and increased productivity in a key production sector.

ODS 10, 4

The fifth notable link was between SDG 4 and SDG 10, which appeared together in several education projects that focused on specific population groups, such as people with disabilities or older adults, with the aim of facilitating these groups’ access to education.

ODS 8,9

Similarly, SDG 8 also had major links with other SDGs, in particular, SDG 9 (infrastructure and industry). As in the above analysis, projects focusing on improving technological capacities and increasing productivity and innovation in industrial sectors contributed not only to SDG 9, but also to SDG 8, which is more directly linked to economic growth.

ODS 10, 1

Finally, worth noting are the projects that linked SDG 1 (end of poverty) with SDG 10 (inequality), as these fairly comprehensive projects not only sought to improve social protection systems, but also, emphasized the inclusive nature of the activity by focusing on indigenous communities, childhood, youth, etc.