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Over the last decade and a half, the bulk of global economic growth has occurred in developing and middle-income countries. Governance standards and practices are maturing: many nations have been developing and testing their own solutions as they chart a path towards Zero Hunger. At the same time, the universality of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and of Goal 2 in particular, means hunger and malnutrition must be ended for all people in all country contexts – something no development actor, government or other entity can achieve in isolation. This is also why Goal 17, the last of the SDGs, commits stakeholders to realizing all partnerships necessary to achieve the other 16.

With a common development agenda for the world, but a great variety of national needs and experiences, the World Food Programme (WFP)’s offer is evolving. Driven by rising country demand, we have stepped up support to governments through South-South and triangular cooperation. The expression covers the direct exchange of knowledge, experiences, skills, resources and technical know-how among developing countries, often assisted by a donor or multilateral organization, such as WFP. This “triangular” facilitation may take the form of funding, training, management, technological systems, or other types of support.

Our engagement  process is as much a pragmatic necessity as a reflection of global trends. Cooperation between developing countries is expanding in both volume and scale: the 2015 Report of the UN Secretary General on South-South Cooperation estimates flows between developing countries at US$16-19 billion, or around 12 percent of total international development assistance.

In practice, WFP responds to requests by developing country governments to help identify, capture and package their national solutions in matters of food and nutrition and share these solutions with their peers. This form of support complements our established system whereby WFP country offices provide bilateral assistance to host governments. In 2015, six out of ten WFP country operations – up from just under half the year before – reported engagement in South-South or triangular cooperation. Concretely, this may consist of:

  • establishing channels of communication or cooperation between two or more countries in sectors in which they have relevant experiences to share;
  • disseminating innovative national solutions that promote Zero Hunger;
  • supporting countries to identify and “vet” possible foreign solutions to outstanding domestic challenges;
  • sharing country experiences and lessons learnt on how to scale up food security practices;
  • partnering with regional or sub-regional organizations to bolster collaboration on reducing hunger and malnutrition;
  • enhancing links to and between research institutions and non-governmental organizations to build a Zero Hunger evidence base;
  • and integrating and aligning WFP’s work with broader UN initiatives, including those of the other Rome-based agencies (FAO and IFAD), the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, and the UN system as a whole.

Evidence from WFP-supported South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives so far has revealed widespread interest from developing countries to engage in South-South and triangular cooperation with WFP in areas such as:

60% of WFP's Country offices
Engaged in South-South cooperation activities in 2015 and 2016