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Statement by Mr. Sugeeshwara Gunaratne, Deputy Permanent Representative at the 21st Session of the South South Cooperation

Tuesday, 30 May 2023
Mr. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna
New York

21st Session of the South South Cooperation
30 May – 2 June 2023
General Debate
Sri Lanka statement delivered by Mr. Sugeeshwara Gunaratne,
Deputy Permanent Representative

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Chairmanship of this august body. Sri Lanka aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Group of 77 and China and wishes to make the following remarks in our national capacity.

We note the reports of the Secretary-General and the Administrator of the UNDP. Both reports provide an overview of the state of south-south and triangular cooperation and reviews the progress made in implementation of technical cooperation programs under BAPA+40, the new directions strategy for South-South cooperation, and the outcome documents of the Nairobi and Buenos Aires summits.

While the poly-crises confronting the world today has been an inhibiting factor for progress in South-South & triangular cooperation on achieving the SDGs, it is precisely at a time of such crises that we need to strengthen cooperation in both areas as we look forward to building back from the setbacks we have faced.

Sri Lanka reiterates the necessity to upscale south-south cooperation initiatives to “accelerate the recovery from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, as well as to confront the challenges emanating from the prevailing international security environment, the rising debt levels, energy and food crisis, as well as climate change. The UNDP Administrator’s report correctly emphasizes the need to invest more in health care, education for all, digitalization, sustainable technologies, humanitarian assistance, governance, monetary and financial systems, the boosting of productive capacities and carbon neutrality.

Mr. Chairman

It is accepted across the board that the pre-existing vulnerabilities of the developing world were exacerbated during the past several years of the pandemic, and the breakdown of global supply chains, followed by the deteriorated security situation. The impact of these world events was dire on Sri Lanka’s economy and its people, as it has proved to be on many countries of the global south.

The new directions identified in 1995– with high-priority areas of trade and investment, debt, environment, poverty alleviation, macro-economic policy coordination remain on top of the agenda for the countries of the global south in varying degrees. Sustained concern among these is the need to address financing the development needs of the Global South, achieving financial inclusion, implementation of digital public goods in the financial sector, and fostering development partnerships that are outcome-oriented and financially sustainable.

The innovation of the countries of the global south during the past decades, since the inception of the idea of south-south cooperation, has been one of tremendous value. Technology flows between our countries have proved vital lifelines in development. As the Global South becomes an increasingly important driver of the world’s economy, South-South and intraregional trade becomes more central to the development discourse, and is a concrete indication of the potential of the global south. In the present landscape it is important not only to revisit those structures that inhibit the growth of the south, but also ensure that there is no roll-back of the gains due to the events of the past several years.

Therefore, while recognizing the vital role of ODA commitments, the continued North-South cooperation, and the modality of triangular cooperation to enhance delivery, perhaps it is time to return to the first principles for the creation of this platform. These principles may be the basis on which to review the progress made in promoting south-south cooperation; in finding solutions to common issues, and the integration of south-south cooperation policies into the development work of the UN and its organs.

The importance of a common vision of development and cooperation by the global south has never been more evident to combat the impact of the present multiple crises and expanding inequalities. However, while working towards this common vision, we must be mindful of repeating familiar patterns of a world order, replacing one with another. Our aim should not be to repeat the actions that have brought global governance to the present state of crisis.

Mr. Chairman

In conclusion, I must state that Sri Lanka has enjoyed the support and partnership of both the global south and the north as it cautiously takes its initial first steps in economic recovery, and remains committed to the direction and framework for collaboration as identified by the BAPA+40 outcome document as adopted in 2019. It is our hope that the forthcoming SDG Summit, the Third South Summit, the Summit on Science, Technology and Innovation and the Summit of the Future will provide the overall framework and guidance in fostering South-South and North-South partnerships that will provide the necessary stimulus for putting the SDG Agenda back on track. (ENDS)