Note: Karen Jorgensen is Head of Review, Evaluation and Engagement at the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate.
In her post “The New Bottom Billion: The Trend of Triangular Development Cooperation”, Dominika Kaczkowska asks whether triangular cooperation “make[s] aid more effective”.
At the OECD we have been looking into this question for several years, building consensus on just what triangular co-operation is and looking at how it can make a difference in addressing today’s development challenges.
Kaczkowska argues that “TDC has the potential to make a real difference by generating more aid.” Our consultations have shown, however, that it is not necessarily a question of more aid. Rather, the strength of triangular co-operation lies in building on experience and complementarities among diverse development partners (providers of development co-operation, international organisations, partners in South-South co-operation) to promote the sharing of knowledge and solutions that can help develop capacity and reduce poverty. It is more about joining forces than it is about upping the ante.
There is, in fact, no single model for triangular co-operation. Anything goes if it serves to capture opportunities for collaboration and learning among development actors. A good example is the case of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Japan and Sri Lanka had a successful bilateral co-operation programme to improve the quality of hospital management. Japan recognised that Sri Lanka had developed an innovative process that could be helpful in Tanzania’s hospitals and helped Sri Lanka replicate the model in Tanzania. After achieving good results in its own hospitals, Tanzania started to disseminate the lessons from this co-operation further to its neighbouring countries, again with Japanese support. The key for success was that each of these initiatives was “opportunistic”, identifying and capitalising on openings for knowledge sharing among countries with similar challenges.
Yet even if triangular co-operation can bring important development results, it cannot be presumed that it “may prove to be more effective than North-South or South-South [co-operation]”. Several international fora (e.g. the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness) have recognised that triangular cooperation does not aim to be – nor can be – a substitute for NorthSouth or South-South co-operation. It is, rather, an innovative instrument that can complement – and even reconcile – the other two. North-South and South-South cooperation each have their own specific advantages in bringing about important development results. The key is to follow the lead of developing countries in identifying what type of development co-operation is best suited to their own specific needs and contexts.
At a recent Policy Dialogue (Lisbon, May 2013), representatives of 47 countries and organisations agreed on seven areas for follow-up to promote more and better triangular co-operation. The conclusions of this meeting were recently brought to the attention of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, with a view to encouraging further debate and joint action. The Global Partnership could well be the ideal platform for promoting more and better triangular co-operation.
At OECD we are committed to working hand-in-hand with all partners involved to advance this agenda. We will monitor implementation of the seven agreed areas of work and also assess the need for another policy dialogue in 2014.