The National Symposium on Advancing Economic Diplomacy with Special Emphasis on New and Innovative Approaches to South-South and Triangular Cooperation was held at the institute of Political and International Studies in Tehran, Iran on October 21, 2018. The event was held jointly in partnership between the Government of Iran and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.
Three keynote speakers addressed the symposium, namely: H.E. Mr. Gholam-Reza Ansari, Deputy Foreign Minister For Economic Diplomacy; H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee, Deputy Minister of Finance and President of Iran’s Organization for Investment and technical Assistance; and Mr. Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the Secretary General on South-South Cooperation and Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
In his statement the Envoy gave a brief history of the evolution of South-South cooperation and the role UNOSSC is playing to advance and facilitate cooperation among developing countries and suggested several recommendations in using the capacities of countries for more systematic South-South cooperation.
Several Iranian economists and development cooperation practitioners and resource persons from AMEXCID (Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation), TIKA (Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency), and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) joined the Resident Coordinator and UNCT in Iran and UNOSSC in three thematic panel discussions.
The event was well attended by high ranking officials of Iran, over 30 ambassadors and charge d’affairs, Directors-General and national coordinating authorities from various ministries and organizations, academia, and the private sector.
The overall objective of the capacity building symposium was to encourage debate on South-South and triangular cooperation among relevant ministries and organizations, and to develop a shared conceptual understanding of what needs to be done to expand and scale up such cooperation.
In the last two years, Iran and United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) have intensified discussions with a view to possible streamlining of the country’s development cooperation policies with the trending UN-backed processes, including South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives. This symposium was the first joint event in this regard which considered, among others, the need for capacity building and capacity development to assist national institutions in initiating, managing, coordinating and implementing South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives.
During the event participants shared their experiences on various issues, including how to scale up national institutional arrangements for the management of cooperation in a way that would serve the development goals of the country within the framework of its national development plans.
Also discussed, among other things, were the critical issues raised in the Needs Assessment Study for Iran as well as the topics highlighted as the capacities and developmental needs of the country. The current state of the local and national coordinating institutions was reviewed to see if new legal, policy and regulatory frameworks need to be set up. Equipping the relevant institutions with necessary human and financial resources as well as giving the national coordinating authority a clear mandate to convene and coordinate national policies and actions on various types of cooperation was recommended. This could be ensued, participants highlighted, by enabling the coordinating institution to map out the South-South cooperation strategy in the country.