Prospects for Chinese and Mexican South-South co-operation post-COVID-19

By Denghua Zhang, former diplomat and Research Fellow at the Australian National University and Carlos Cortés Zea, Coordinator of the AMEXCID-UNDP Co-operation Programme


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


The COVID-19 crisis is having profound impacts on the international political and economic order. It also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on past practices in each sector and learn from lessons to improve policies in the future. In this case, we examine the purposes, approaches and capacities of emerging providers (or Southern providers as some may call them) through the lens of China and Mexico—two major players in south-south co-operation (SSC).

Emerging providers, similar to traditional donors, provide aid to serve their own national interest. Motivations underpinning emerging providers’ efforts can vary significantly. The Chinese foreign aid programme is driven by a combination of factors including diplomatic competition with Taiwan, access to natural resources in recipient countries, image building as a responsible global power, and generating geopolitical support when its relationship with developed countries is strained. For example, China is currently taking a whole-of-government approach to conduct its COVID-19 diplomacy; an effort to improve its global image and garner support from developing countries in the face of growing pressure from developed countries over China’s handling of the crisis.  

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COVID-19: A game changer for the Global South and international co-operation?

By Debapriya Bhattacharya, Chair, Southern Voice and Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), and Sarah Sabin Khan, Senior Research Associate, CPD


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


In a short but seemingly never-ending time span, the COVID-19 crisis has propelled governments into the dilemma of balancing the response to immediate health, economic and social fallouts, with long-term recovery. Some remain vigorously engaged in saving lives. Others are seesawing between loosening restrictions and enforcing new ones to prevent a second wave. Countries from the Global South are among the worst affected by the pandemic. This is due to both their weak pre-crisis conditions as well as their disadvantaged position in global governance. There is a broad consensus that things will not and cannot go back to the way they were before. A “new normal” will emerge in terms of how governments, producers, businesses, consumers and other economic agents conduct themselves. This will be also true for global governance structures and the conventionally dialectical relationship between the North and the South.  

In this context, pessimistic views and optimistic outlooks on the post-COVID world confront one another. 

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Build back better with risk-informed development co-operation

By Navid Hanif, Director, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs


This blog* is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Photo: Victor Balaban

Covid-19 is endangering lives and livelihoods, with devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable people. The full effects of this global pandemic are still unfolding and uncertainty remains high. Yet the impacts on our societies, economies and ecosystems will surely be felt for years to come. Now is not the time to turn away from international development co-operation. In fact, Covid-19 has graphically reinforced the need for global co-operation and collaboration, both for immediate response and for longer-term recovery. Advancing development co-operation that is both risk-informed and climate-smart will be a vital plank in the efforts to build back better.

The world was already falling behind in efforts to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and take climate action. Based on pre-crisis data, the 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development estimated that one in five countries – representing billions of people – were likely to see average income per person stagnate or decline in 2020. Many more will likely struggle as the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic hit and test countries’ resilience. Continue reading

COVID-19 and Development Co-operation: we know a lot about what works, let’s use the evidence

 By EvalNet Chair Per Øyvind Bastøe, Director, Evaluation Department, Norad, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway; Vice-Chair Dr. Wendy Asbeek Brusse, Director, Policy and Operations Evaluation Department-IOB, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, and Vice-Chair Dr. Jörg Faust, Director, German Institute for Development Evaluation, DEval


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


covid-19-cooperation-charityThe recent statement from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee calls for sustained action to address the crisis in the poorest countries of the planet. In these societies, the pandemic will encounter weak public health systems. Lock-down measures will crush fragile economic structures and worsen the social situation for many people, particularly among the most vulnerable groups in society. Violence against women and children is spiking across the globe. In other words, in the short term the pandemic is likely to cause a humanitarian disaster. In the medium term it will lead to a structural economic crisis that will jeopardise recent progress on attaining the sustainable development goals.

While OECD countries are still working to contain the far-reaching consequences of COVID-19 at home, policymakers are stepping up to help developing country partners. Many OECD countries, multilateral institutions and international organisations have committed funds – and more announcements are coming every day. Continue reading

COVID-19 and the future of international co-operation: consolidating a new approach

By Annalisa Prizzon, Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


This blog* is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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At the time of writing this blog in early April 2020, we didn’t really know how deep and long-lasting the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis would be. Despite these uncertainties, I would argue that aid commitments should be scaled up despite the challenges ahead for aid budgets, more flexible instruments should be considered and that the coronavirus crisis will fast-track the transformation of traditional donor–recipient aid relations to a model of international co-operation between all countries. Continue reading

Covid-19: time to unleash the power of international co-operation

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By Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development


This blog* is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Development co-operationThe rapid spread of the dire human, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shows just how interconnected we are. International co-operation has become –literally– vital.

A health crisis has set off a global economic crisis, where shocks on the demand and supply sides are combining in an unprecedented scenario. Many developing countries are bracing themselves. While Europe is struggling to contain and cope with a spiralling number of cases and fatalities, the effects in countries where health systems are already weak, economies are highly dependent on global demand, and strict containment policies are more difficult to implement, could be even more disastrous.

Major outbreaks in developing countries could cause the collapse of weak health systems and expose gaps in social protection programmes, especially in Africa, where so many schemes rely on official development assistance. A humanitarian crisis may be in the making: travel restrictions affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and infections in refugee camps – largely hosted in developing countries – will be difficult to fight. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide, possibly more, as the majority of workers in developing countries are in the informal economy. Continue reading

Equipping development co-operation to leave no one behind

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By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate


To read more about this topic, check out the upcoming release of the
Development Co-operation Report 2018: Joining Forces to Leave No One Behind
on 11 December 2018


dev-cooperation-puzzle-handLeaving no one behind is a radically new level of ambition for governments and societies worldwide, for it implies that the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if they deliver results for everyone and especially the furthest behind. By embracing the pledge in 2015 to leave no one behind, United Nations member states signed up to and entered a new era: one bound by the commitment to universal, equitable and sustainable development for all. Delivering on this agenda will require fundamental refocus and reform of systems, institutions and policies, from the global to the local levels.

Delivering on this central promise of the 2030 Agenda means lifting at least 730 million people out of extreme poverty – those who despite two decades of strong economic growth remain trapped in poverty, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and in fragile contexts. It also means addressing inequalities, discriminations and fragilities. According to the World Inequality Lab, inequalities leave less than 9% of global income to the poorest 50% of the world’s people. Intersecting discriminations and disadvantages afflict women and girls, minority groups and vulnerable populations around the world. An estimated 27% of humanity is expected to live in fragile contexts by 2030 due to the borderless reach of conflict, forced displacement, pandemics, violent extremism, famine and natural disasters. Time may already be running out: in some areas we are actually backsliding – for example, 40 million more people went undernourished between 2014 and 2017.

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Upgrading International Development Cooperation

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By Alicia BarcenaStefano Manservisi and Mario Pezzini

Dev-in-Trans-Barcena-Manservisi-PezziniIn an era when the benefits of multilateralism are being questioned, income inequality is growing, and innovation and technology are transforming how people learn and work, the world needs a more equitable approach to globalization. Can Latin America and the Caribbean offer a way forward?

PARIS – These are hard times for international cooperation. With rising protectionism, burgeoning trade disputes, and a troubling lack of concern for shared interests like climate change, the world seems to be turning its back on multilateralism.

And yet cooperation remains one of our best hopes for addressing humanity’s most complex development-related challenges. Just as the Marshall Plan rebuilt a war-ravaged Europe and the Millennium Development Goals lifted some 471 million people out of extreme poverty, the international development agenda can still deliver results thanks to the combined potential of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Paris climate agreement.
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