The search for solutions to Arab development challenges heads south

UNDP - United Nations Development Programme

Doha, February 18


The "First Arab States Regional South-South Development Expo" opened today in the Qatari capital, Doha. The Expo is the first ever forum in the Arab region seeking to study successful development solutions from the global South and possibilities for their replication and scaling up, and to strengthen the exchange of tangible solutions and experiences between countries of the South and the Arab region in response to common development challenges.


Held under the motto "Solutions to Action," the Expo brings together more than 400 delegates from 45 countries to document and present evidence-based development solutions that are pertinent to the needs and aspirations of the region and that were crafted in the South and successfully tested by countries in the Arab States region in addressing development challenges. The Expo focuses on three thematic areas, including youth and women's employment and decent work, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and water and food security.


Inaugurating the Expo, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Cooperation Affairs, State of Qatar, emphasized Qatar's commitment to supporting South-South development approaches as an essential foundation for regional cooperation. He stated that "this regional event provides an excellent opportunity to initiate a strategic dialogue among all supporters of South-South cooperation and their Arab counterparts." He added: "This Expo presents a concrete platform to match the capabilities of solution providers to the needs of solution seekers. The Expo also aims to encourage the transfer and replication of successful solutions in response to common development challenges facing the Arab region".


"South-South cooperation has indeed become an essential bottom-up approach to building a strong global partnership for development", echoed H.E. Zsolt Hetesy, Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation. "We have to build on this resource and on its unique characteristics. The question in front of us for the next years is how to achieve the best results worldwide, and at the regional level".


In his intervention, HE Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz, Chair of the Group of 77 said: "We are confident that the Expo will bring together the cooperation offices and agencies of the Arab States as well as countries outside the region that could share effective southern solutions to development challenges or benefit from solutions offered by this region".


"No one nation and no one community has all the answers". underlined Mourad Wahba, Deputy Regional Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Regional Bureau for Arab States. "This is why this Expo is so important, as a showcase for joint creativity in our region. It brings together many champions of development policies and technologies that transformed inspiring ideas into everyday reality in countries of the South that have achieved balanced growth and sustainable development". He stressed that the Expo presents a strong incentive for all Arab countries to learn from those successful experiences in order to achieve tangible development results across the region.


"This Expo comes as a direct response to the requests of Member States and institutional partners to bring practical Southern solutions closer to regional contexts," said Yiping Zhou, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). "With a focus on the exchange of knowledge and experience, stakeholders come together at this Expo to deepen the impact of South-South development cooperation through concrete scaling up and replication efforts".


The First Arab States Regional South-South Development Expo is the fruit of a strategic partnership between the State of Qatar, UNOSSC and UNDP's Regional Bureau for Arab States. It convenes over three days, concluding on Thursday, 20 February 2014.


The opening of the Expo witnessed high-level participation of international officials, including Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi Secretary - General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); a number of UN Special Envoys and heads Offices; representatives of bilateral and multilateral cooperation organizations; and representatives of offices of development cooperation agencies from the Arab region and beyond. The Islamic Development Bank and the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation (JICA) also ensured broad participation in the Expo through supporting the participation of key stakeholders from across the region.


Exhibition and tools for coordination
The first day of the Expo saw the inauguration of the "Exhibition of Development Solutions", which continues over the three days of the Expo. The exhibition showcases some of the most successful and innovative development solutions from the Arab region and other parts of the global South, as well as shining current and potential examples demonstrating the strength of South-South cooperation. The exhibition presents a number of South-South and triangular partnership solutions relevant to the three broad themes of the Expo through posters, audio visual products, printed materials and publications. Showcased solutions exemplify key attributes of South-South Cooperation, including Southern priority (demand driven; solutions); Southern ownership; Southern leadership; broad-based partnership; innovation; efficiency; sustainability; and scalability.


The inaugural session of the Expo concluded with the launching of the "Tool for Mapping of South-South cooperation mechanisms and solutions in the Arab States Region," jointly produced by the Islamic Bank for Development, UNOSCC and UNDP. The mapping tool is designed in response to the existing demand for filling the information gap on the range of existing tools and mechanisms for effective South-South cooperation specific to the Arab States region. It provides practical, easy-to-use information for use by government agencies that are focal points for South-South cooperation as well as the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes active in advancing South-South cooperation in the region in compliance with the provisions of the outcome document of the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, which took place in Nairobi Kenya in 2009.
The first day also saw the launch of the "South-South Global Assets and Technology Exchange (SS-GATE)". Extending over the three days of the Expo, SS-GATE hosts a matchmaking space on the exhibition floor, offering solution providers, solution seekers and potential investors the opportunity to leverage SS-GATE expertise in deal-making and project facilitation.


Solutions Exchange Forums
The first day of the Expo also launched a series of "Development Solutions Exchange Forums" that will extend over two days. Day I included three forums featuring solutions from the host country, the private sector and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The Qatari Forum presented a wide range of successful experiences and solutions on all three focus areas of the exhibition featuring key stakeholders from governmental institutions, civil society and the private sector, including the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics; Kahramaa (Qatar's General Electricity & Water Corporation)…