The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation celebrates developments made in recent years by regions and countries in the south and highlights UN system’s efforts to work on technical cooperation among developing countries. South-South cooperation is collaboration among peoples and countries of the South, involving two or more countries, that seeks to improve national well-being, national and collective self-reliance and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda.
In the Pacific and in other Small Islands Developing States, countries are facing the effects of climate change, ecosystem degradation, and loss of biodiversity due to the unsustainable use of both land and marine resources. Simultaneously, the agricultural sector is under pressure to feed a bigger population on the same amount of land, and dependence on imported food is increasing. In the last few years, GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) Cuba has been promoting sustainable land management and organic agriculture in 14 projects that benefitted 23 agricultural cooperatives, 1,216 farming families, and 3,055 people. Collectively, these efforts brought 5,527 hectares of land under improved management. With support from the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), these results provided the basis for this exchange facilitated by GEF SGP Cuba, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands.
In May 2015, participants from Cuba, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, and the Solomon Islands met in Havana, Cuba to learn from Cuban farmers about low cost and proven ecological farming practices which are easily adaptable and transferrable to the Pacific and elsewhere as solutions to the pressing issue of food security and environmental sustainability. The exchange included four farmer leaders of local organizations in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, as well the coordinator of POETcom, joined by participants from the GEF SGP, UNDP, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Alexander Humboldt Institute for Basic Research in Tropical Agriculture, and the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture. Three young farmers from Central America (one from El Salvador and two from Guatemala) also added value to the South-South exchange and established new friendships and partnerships.
Following the exchange, Tei Tei Taveuni (TTT) from Fiji started to explore different irrigation methods, including solar powered water pumps, on two demonstration farms. As of 2017, TTT is working to establish 15 demonstration farms across Taveuni Island and streamlining the lessons they learned in this South-South cooperation exchange in the farms’ management practices. Zai Na Tina Organic Demonstration and Research Farm (ZNT) from the Solomon Islands has also modified their farm management practices to include systematic composting, with consideration to both the quality and nutrient density of the compost. ZNT has signed a contract with the Solomon Islands Government to build a Farm Stay for eco-tourists and has been awarded SBD 250,000 (approximately USD 32,000) in government funding.
GEF SGP Cuba has taken their South-South cooperation leadership a step further and is continuing to organize and host exchanges with interested parties from across the world. In December 2017, Cuba hosted an exchange with farmers from Belize and Jamaica in Viñales National Park. In May 2018, another exchange was held in Belize, and in December 2018, SGP staff in Latin America and the Carribbean will meet for a SSC exchange workshop to share the region’s best practices on SSC.
To find out more about SGP’s South-South Community Innovation Exchange Platform check out the publication here. To learn more about the Objectives of South-South Cooperation visit United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.