Beijing - A new phase has been agreed for South-South Cooperation on Population and Development, aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and underpinned by the principles of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

This was the outcome of a Ministerial Strategic Dialogue in Beijing that drew representatives from 24 African and Asian countries, as well as United Nations agencies and civil society partners.  The meeting was jointly organized by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China; UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund; and the intergovernmental organization, Partners in Population and Development, PPD.

The Dialogue's outcome document, the Beijing Call to Action for South-South Collaboration in Population and Development, charts a roadmap to strengthen the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge among developing countries, with a focus on programmes to promote the health and well-being of women, girls and young people.

The Beijing Call for Action recognizes "population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and gender equality are at the core of sustainable development, and that deepening South-South Cooperation in this field will contribute to the health and well-being of all people in developing countries and their sustainable development at large."

These issues are at the centre of the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action adopted by a consensus of United Nations Member States, which has guided UNFPA's work since then. They are also reflected in the ICPD Beyond 2014 Framework and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

"The core message of the ICPD Programme of Action is more relevant today than it has ever been, that 'investing in individual human rights, capabilities and dignity - across multiple sectors and throughout the life-course - is the foundation of sustainable development'," said Rebeca Grynspan, the Ibero-American Secretary-General and former UN Under-Secretary-General, in her keynote address at the Ministerial Dialogue.

"Even the most economically disadvantaged and smallest countries, which are often viewed primarily as recipients of South-South Cooperation, have good practices to offer others," said UNFPA's Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. "It is a two-way street."

While in Beijing, Dr. Babatunde signed a Memorandum of Understanding for UNFPA and China to boost efforts in bringing developing countries together to support and learn from each other.

"This is a golden time for South-South Cooperation," noted Minister Li Bin, Chair of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China. "Deepening such collaboration will be significant for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for all countries. China has long been an active advocate for, as well as a beneficiary of South-South Cooperation.  We will take practical measures to make greater contributions in this regard."

Specific steps under the Beijing Call for Action include:

  • Establishing an International Forum on South-South Cooperation in Population and Development as a platform for networking and policy dialogue;
  • Setting up a Coordinating Committee as a mechanism to identify and coordinate support to concrete South-South Cooperation programmes;
  • Strengthening partnerships for South-South Cooperation in population and development, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equality;
  • Enhancing efforts to speed up reproductive health commodity security in developing countries to respond to the huge global unmet need for voluntary family planning and reproductive health technologies and commodities; and
  • Establishing a Population and Development South-South Cooperation Centre of Excellence in China by the China Population and Development Research Centre, to help build capacities on data collection and analysis and population projection.

"South-South Cooperation is not just a technocratic strategy," concluded Dr. Osotimehin. "It is also the embodiment of a new world order in which the Global South has assumed political and economic leadership as never before, and where developing countries can play their role in ensuring 'no one is left behind.'"