by Stephan Pietsch, IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program

A failed north-south cooperation. Photo Credit: Stephan Pietsch

A solar village project in Africa hit hard times when spare parts were not available  to repair the solar cells. Photo Credit: Stephan Pietsch

When we hear about cooperative efforts to preserve forests in the Southern Hemisphere, they are usually between wealthy countries in the Northern Hemisphere, which provide funding or expertise, and developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere. “Northern” solutions, however, may fail under “Southern” conditions, sometimes due to lack of access to equipment, spare parts, or maintenance expertise. Cooperation between countries within the Southern Hemisphere, or “South-South cooperation” is therefore becoming increasingly important because such cooperation allow countries to profit from others’ experiences.

That is why I recently co-organized a side event on the topic at the FAO XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban South Africa last month. The event brought together experts in the field to discuss recent successes and the current limitations of South-South cooperation in forestry, provide a forum for exchange among ongoing cooperation projects in the training, education, science, and policy sectors, and promote enhanced South-South cooperation within forestry. An excellent example of one of these success stories are the horticultural practices for agroforestry developed at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), which operate without the need for sterile working environments.

The event focused not only on the role of Southern Hemisphere cooperation within the forestry sector, but also stressed interconnected issues like food security, climate change mitigation and economic development. As such, cooperation in forestry in the Southern Hemisphere may become a key vehicle for socioeconomic development and food security by integration of forests and other land uses.

Trucks carrying logs in Gunung Lumut, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.   Photo by Jan van der Ploeg for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Trucks carrying logs in Gunung Lumut, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Photo by Jan van der Ploeg for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

What makes such cooperation successful? The participants identified efforts in capacity building such as training forest-dependent people in rural communities, but also establishing value chains and marketing expertise including local businesses and policymakers to jointly cooperate for improved decision making. Using South-South cooperation to foster product innovation and sustainable trade provides us with a promising pathway for building resilience with forests: Resilience in an ecological sense, but equally well in an economic, sociological and political sense in order to ensure sustainable futures for the global South. The side event promoted such solutions to increase the visibility and impact of ongoing South-South cooperation at the local, regional, continental and global level.


Photo credit: Stephan Pietsch

Event Information

World Forestry Congress – Side Event
The way forward via integrated South-South cooperation” with Dr. Tachrir Fathoni (Indonesia), Dr. Zacharie Tchoundjeu (Cameroon), Dr. Alexandre X. Ywata de Carvalho (Brazil), Dr. Coert Galdenhuys (South Africa) and Dr. Stephan A. Pietsch (Austria). More information.

The event was sponsored by the REDD-PAC project and is part of the IIASA Tropical Flagship Initiative.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Nexus blog, nor of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

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