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What is A Decade of South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America?

A Decade of South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America is a publication to commemorate the joint work undertaken by SEGIB and the Ibero-American countries in South-South Cooperation since its beginning 2007. The result of this joint effort of systematization, recording and analysis of South-South Cooperation initiatives has been reflected in the successive editions of the Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America, an international benchmark publication by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB). Therefore, the book commemorates both the joint cooperative efforts of the region as well as the first ten editions of the Report.

As this is a commemorative edition, its process of elaboration has lasted for over a year. During this period, the South-South Cooperation Area at SEGIB has attempted to capture a full decade of cooperation between the Ibero-American countries and SEGIB, and to give voice to the main actors of South-South Cooperation in the region, as well as to those people whose effort and vision were at the origin of this project, which has now entered its second decade. The book opens with a foreword by Rebeca Grynspan, the Ibero-American Secretary-General, and is organized into five chapters, with different content and structure, illustrated with a delicate design.

Results by chapter

Chapter 1: The South-South Cooperation Logbook

The Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America represents the first regional initiative to register, systematize, analyse and promote knowledge on SSC in the global history of cooperation. Today, ten years after its first edition, it has become the logbook of SSC and triangular cooperation in Ibero-America, and it is a reference document for governments and cooperation officials around the world. In this chapter, the leading figures behind this initiative describe, in their own words, how it began and how it has contributed to the development and articulation of SSC both in Ibero-America and abroad.

XVII Cumbre Iberoamericana de Santiago de Chile, donde los países mandataron a la SEGIB la elaboración del Informe de la Cooperación Sur-Sur en Iberoamérica

The original idea, shared by SEGIB and the cooperation officials who participated in the preparatory meetings, was to elaborate an occasional publication compiling an inventory of projects of good practices, outcomes and alternatives, which could be used as benchmarks or as a good source of experiences by countries of the Ibero-American community.

Chapter 2: A Brief History of South-South Cooperation

A brief history of South-South Cooperation through its main landmarks and events, from the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung (Indonesia), where the key aspects of a future ‘South discourse’ were established —the principle of non-interference, respect for national sovereignty and the promotion of reciprocal cooperation— up to the present day. The essay presented in this chapter allows us to dissect a complex process in order to better understand the past, to adequately interpret the present, and thus to envisage more clearly the future possibilities of this tool for development.

Historia de la Cooperación Sur-Sur

(…) the SSC raised again and tried to integrate itself into the international arena, traditionally dominated by the discourse of the donors and the North-South Cooperation. And specially in the Latin American region, where the limited access to ODA funds encouraged the search for alternative approaches to development, a context where SSC provided close and effective solutions at a reasonable cost and created a forum for discussion led by the South.

Chapter 3: A Decade of South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America

The information gathered in the ten annual editions of the Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America makes it possible to construct a narrative of the evolution of SSC in which the region has participated over the last decade. The report presents the details of a technical and political process of multilateral construction, always agreed by consensus, where all the 22 Ibero-American countries take part. This chapter narrates the history of the Report, which is a self-standing initiative of SSC, only made possible as a result of joint efforts and dialogue.


During the decade between 2006 and 2015, the countries of the region were involved in 7,375 SSC programmes, projects and actions, approximately. Within the modalities widely used in the Ibero-American region, it is worth noting that eight out of ten of these initiatives (6,071 in total) adopted the form of Bilateral SSC; about one thousand (969) were implemented as Triangular Cooperation, and the rest (333) within a framework of Regional SSC.
In 2008 (…) the Cooperation Agencies and Bureaus promoted the creation of the Ibero-American Program to Strengthen South-South Cooperation (PIFCSS). Their main lines of action (…) stand as a testimony to their spirit of determination to face the challenges posed by the region in the field of development cooperation and, in particular, in the field of SSC. A programme that, in line with the Report, is a self-standing SSC activity, as it faces challenges based on the exchange of experiences and the mutual strengthening of capabilities among the national institutions governing the cooperation.

Chapter 4: Ten years, ten case studies

This chapter presents ten initiatives that reflect the diversity of SSC projects undertaken by Ibero-American countries over the last decade. They include shared experiences in such varied fields as human rights, education, housing, energy, ecotourism, agriculture, library science, public administration, natural resources, and health. These ten case studies also illustrate different modes of institutional articulation and different cooperation formulae, not only among Ibero-American countries, but also with other developed and developing regions in Asia, Europe and Africa.


10 años 10 casos css

“The ‘Yo sí puedo’ is, indeed, much more than a literacy program.  It would be more appropriate to understand it as a literacy training model that goes beyond processes, materials, strategies etc., as it includes, both explicitly and implicitly, concepts of literacy training, learning, daily life skills and social mobilization, and involves a wide range of actors with a variety of roles, from the beneficiaries of the literacy training to other stakeholders, such as state entities and other institutions.”

Chapter 5: Our Future

This chapter examines the challenges faced by SSC in the current scenario, where the Report on South-South Cooperation in Ibero-America and the work carried out by the region over this decade stand as a reference for the development of a new model of global cooperation.

By contrast, in this context, SSC reappears dissociated from income criteria and based on a concept of development that emphasizes the exchange of experiences and the search for shared solutions. Therefore, since its own inception and conceptualization, this type of cooperation is much better adapted to the new multi-dimensional approaches to development, thus more able to provide answers for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
Los colores del cambio

The quote by the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, “Somos lo que hacemos para cambiar lo que somos” (We are what we do to change who we are), from his book El libro de los abrazos, is at the core of the mural created within the framework of the SEGIB campaign We Are Ibero-America: The Colours of Change.


The main challenges included in the chapter, which are analysed from the SSC perspective and resulting from reflection during the preparatory process of the Commemorative Conference on South-South Cooperation at BAPA, are the following ones:

  • The finance of the Development Agenda and SSC as a tool for the construction of more universal and equitable tax systems, which would allow for a greater and better mobilization of domestic resources.
  • Further progress towards a reduction of gender inequality, through the SSC, based on the exchange of successful and innovative experiences and initiatives in the field, as well as through the adoption of a cross-cutting gender approach in all SSC interventions undertaken by countries.
  • The reduction of inequality and the work with populations whose rights have been seriously infringed, stressing the need to increase SSC aimed at bringing to an end infringement of the rights of Afro-descendant and indigenous populations, as well as of people with disabilities.
  • The need of increasing SSC between local entities, that will allow to face the challenge of urbanization so that cities can achieve an equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
  • The challenge of increasing the number and the variety of actors, such as the civil society and the academia, that are involved in SSC initiatives, through multi-actor alliances.
“So, for that global debate to become widespread and, considering all nuances, to be able to incorporate those multiple perspectives, the South must be included and heard. A South that, in turn, needs to make further progress in the systematization of cooperation, as a mechanism to increase the visibility of what it does, but, most of all, to be endowed with tools that allow countries a better management of SSC, as well as with strong elements to support their positions in this debate of all for all.”


If you have any questions or to request a copy of this publication, please contact

Iberoamerican General Secretariat

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Ibero-american program for the strengthening of South-South Cooperation

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