A Wake-up Call: Addressing Global Challenges through South-South Cooperation

Without the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 would have been a different year for the global community because it marks the beginning of the decade of action in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The pandemic caused widespread social and economic disruption across the globe; the health systems of many countries, regardless of their level of development, are stretched to their limits and there is no doubt that our world is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. A major lesson from this pandemic that we must prepare for is the unlikelihood of life returning to normal as we know it. Therefore, COVID-19 represents a wake-up call for all of us to come together to respond to the current challenges and to prepare the post-COVID-19 world by promoting bilateral, regional, and international multi-sectoral cooperation.

In this regard, we believe that the 2020 Edition of the Paris Forum, though it comes at a very challenging time, is an excellent occasion to showcase how the power of solidarity among all of us can light a spark of hope during these challenging times. The Forum in its third edition will bring together all actors of global governance: governments, private sector companies, members of civil society, and representatives from international organizations, foundations, philanthropic organizations, development agencies, religious groups, etc. The contribution of all stakeholders is of paramount importance in bringing solutions to tackle this global challenge. The global community is eager for the outcome of the third edition of the Paris Forum. The development community in particular looks forward to the innovative solutions and creative ideas that will emerge from the Paris Forum to help close the COVID-19 chapter and open a new one that will ensure health recovery, peace, and economic prosperity.

At the Islamic Development Bank, we are determined as we have always been to help in addressing the development challenges faced by humanity using the vast experience of our institution in South-South Cooperation. As the only major multilateral development bank whose membership is entirely from the developing world, IsDB considers South-South Cooperation as an effective tool of multilateral cooperation which should be mainstreamed in all Sustainable Development Goals because we believe that all its member countries have something to share with each other in all sectors. The Bank, since its inception in 1975, spared no efforts to bring its member countries together to help one another solve common development challenges through various programs that promoted trade, investment, and technical cooperation among its 57 member countries.

Guided by the principles of South-South Cooperation, the Bank designed the Reverse Linkage as a technical cooperation mechanism enabled by the IsDB whereby member countries exchange their knowledge, expertise, technology, and resources to develop their capacities and devise solutions for their autonomous development. Through this mechanism, IsDB plays the role of a facilitator and connector to mobilize resources and identify development solutions from across the globe (South and North) to meet the challenges of its member countries. Furthermore, the Reverse Linkage mechanism is a unique modality that puts solidarity-based cooperation ahead of finance and where member countries are in the driver’s seat, pursuing sustainable partnerships that lead to enhanced economic cooperation in the long run.

Within the spirit of multilateralism, the Bank initiated the President’s 5-Year Program (P5P) which advocates, among others, transforming IsDB into a bank of development, developers, and knowledge– a development institution that not only provides financing but also plays a key role in connecting and engaging key stakeholders and partners to transform the development journey of member countries. We are working closely with our partners from the public, private, and social sectors to bring innovative solutions on the ground.

The Bank joined the global community in the fight against COVID-19 through its Strategic Preparedness and Response Program of US$ 2.3 billion to support its member countries’ efforts to prevent, contain, mitigate and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Bank is committed to play its part in this global struggle by using all the tools at its disposal, including Reverse Linkage, to help countries return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, and to continue supporting our constituents to help them achieve their development objectives and to improve our collective resilience and build a more robust and sustainable world.

In conclusion, we believe South-South Cooperation constitutes one of the key pathways towards promoting a mutual development agenda that addresses our collective challenges, both, with respect to dealing with the ongoing pandemic, as well as in achieving Sustainable Development Goals in this Decade of Action.