Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Grenada, Haiti, Mauritania, Samoa and Seychelles are gearing up to cooperate with other developing countries like themselves. Through an initiative called "scope|acp", the GM’s South-to-South cooperation programme on land and environment, developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions receive and, in turn, provide support in improving sustainable land management (SLM). The 78 countries of the ACP regions share and learn from their own experiences. The initiative is financed by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the GM and its partners.
In addition to supporting countries with their elaboration of National Action Programmes (NAP) and Integrated Financing Strategies (IFS) to combat desertification, as called for by the UNCCD, the Global Mechanism (GM) works with the EU and other partners to support ACP countries in upholding multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
In each of the three regions, two or three pilot countries (listed above) have been selected and are working with the GM to develop policy and investment frameworks that have SLM at their core. To achieve these goals, the GM facilitates knowledge exchange workshops and manages a website under the scope|acp initiative - http://www.scopeacp.net.
The scope|acp website allows participants immediate access to information on resource opportunities. Launched in 2010, the portal is about to become more interactive. The website highlights good practices and success stories that can be replicated. If, for instance, a country plans to take on a trans-boundary project, scope|acp can provide a workspace for the project to facilitate experience exchange, the identification of common needs and challenges and the formation of technical and financial partnerships.
“We have built an original platform for the exchange of experience and immensely widened the scope of our support since we cannot be in all countries,” explained Youssef Brahimi, GM Programme Coordinator for North Africa & South-to-South Cooperation. Right now, for example, the African regional platform has a section dedicated to the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI), an initiative involving 20 countries. It is co-financed by the EU, the GM and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and implemented by FAO and the GM under the leadership of the African Union (AU).
Because SLM touches a multitude of sectors, scope|acp encourages partnership on various levels, as it is central to resource mobilization. “While the national focal points serve as our traditional institutional partners, the scope|acp team also targets the actors directly involved or concerned in combating desertification/land degradation,” Brahimi said. Local authorities, town leaders, civil society groups and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a more and more important role as they work on rural development projects, as well as raise local awareness.
Exemplary of partnership and capacity building, a workshop was held last month in M 'Sila, Algeria, so that an Algerian endeavour from the 1970s could be shared with the GGWSSI participants. For a decade, the Algerian army planted trees from the Moroccan to the Tunisian border to stop the advancement of the desert. Having learned from that experience, Algeria now recommends using a more integrated strategy involving local actors and addressing SLM issues in the framework of their National Rural Development Strategy.
scope|acp’s next workshop in Gambia in July will serve English-speaking GGWSSI countries in Africa and place an emphasis on dialogue. Rather than present information, the scope|acp team will ask participants to prepare material in advance so that they come to the meeting ready to take part in discussions and take away concrete information. “We expect that after 4 or 5 days, workshop participants have a clear idea on how to elaborate an IFS. That for us is the indicator of success,” Brahimi said.
What are the advantages of south-to-south cooperation? One of them is decentralized cooperation – the involvement of actors who may otherwise be marginalized, such as the local authorities. Another is the optimization of resources – it is less costly for actors of the South to liaise among themselves. And, last but not least, promoting understanding and empowerment – confidence in local development plans that include combating land degradation can go a long way in building the determination to reduce poverty. That is how scope|acp connects people, ideas and resources.
For more information:
Mr Youssef Brahimi, Programme Coordinator, North Africa & South-to-South Cooperation
Tel. +39 06 5459 2584
y.brahimi (at) global-mechanism.org