Message by
Mr. Mark Mallock Brown, Administrator of UNDP,
to the Special Ministerial Meeting to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Group of 77

São Paulo, Brazil
12 June 2004

UNDP wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate the G77 on its 40 th birthday. For the past 40 years, the Group of 77 has been a champion of South-South approaches to development.

The philosophy of self-reliance and South-South solidarity promoted by Raul Prebish, Perez Guerrero and others in the world such as Julius Nyerere, won many followers. The ethos it inspired produced investments in education, encouraged the establishment of trade between developing countries and industrialization to substitute imports with domestic products.

Today, four decades later, we are at the threshold of a dramatic expansion of South-South cooperation powered by expertise, technology and other endowments in the developing world. A vast stock of expertise and experience has been accumulated in the developing world through years of experimentation and investment in education, health, governance and economic reform. These experiments are beginning to yield rich dividends in many countries.

The international community has within its reach a real opportunity to have " development role-models" of the South as the chief architects of a more peaceful and prosperous South in the years ahead. Indeed, cooperation among developing countries has such potential that if harnessed it could help tip the balance towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) throughout the developing world.

What is needed to make this possible? Well, for a start, we need to take full advantage of the greater diversity in the capacities and experiences of countries in the South than was available in the 1970s. Because of this, a growing number of countries in the South can offer increasingly credible and productive solutions to developing challenges in other developing countries.

The new development role-models that have emerged recently in the South are considered to be the promising new 'prime movers' of South-South cooperation.

The message is clear: the South has an abundance of development experience throughout the global South, in state, civil society and private sector.

As the South-South scenario unfolds, UNDP believes it is well placed to galvanize the resources of the UN system and facilitate, mobilize and support stakeholders, always keeping its sights focused on the Millennium Development Goals. The Special Unit for South-South Cooperation will play a catalytic role in this equation, making use of the global network of UNDP country offices and regional centres.

We envisage developing a number of signature services now being designed. They will include quality enterprise development in Africa building on our prior experience in organizing Africa-Asia Business Forums that bring together entrepreneurs from the two regions to form business joint ventures in Africa. Although UNDP is not a public health agency we hope to promote South-South exchanges among countries affected by HIV/AIDS particularly in Africa with countries in other regions having expertise in producing anti-retroviral medication and in the provision of other healthcare services.

We also intend to bolster South-South trade through collaboration with countries working to deepen regional and interregional ties. Improving household food security is another outcome we hope to pursue by popularizing high-yielding and disease-resistant rice varieties researched and developed in Africa by integrating them into production systems across the continent. Related initiatives will aim to transfer technology and know-how from Asia and Latin America to help build agro-based industries in Africa.

The idea of South-South approaches to development that the Group of 77 gave birth to in the 1970s has delivered much over the years. But we are ready to scale up to another level of sophistication, driven by the expertise, experience, technologies and alliances deepening across the South. At a time when global interdependencies are weaving individuals, communities and societies more closely together and new alliances are generating new possibilities the message is clear: the time for South-South cooperation has truly arrived.

UNDP reiterates its commitment to support the Group of 77 and its efforts to promote South-South solidarity in the fight against poverty for development.