Minister Lindiwe Zulu: South-South Cooperation Preparatory Seminar for ICPD Summit

4 Nov 2019

Speaking Notes for the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu on the occasion of South-South Cooperation Preparatory Seminar for the ICPD Summit, Constitution Hill-Gauteng Province

Programme Director and Acting Director-General, Mr Mzolisi Toni;
Minister in The Presidency, Mr Jackson Mthembu;
UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Julitta Onabanjo;
Executive Director for Partners in Population and Development, Mr Adnene Ben Haj Aissa;
Executive Director for Partners in Population and Development (PPD), Mr Adnene Ben Haj Aissa
Representatives of Government, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of UN Agencies here present;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good morning and thank you everyone for joining us for this consultative seminar on South-South Cooperation as we prepare for the upcoming International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) Summit later this month.

At the outset, allow me to once again express my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends on the untimely passing of one of our own, the late MEC of Social Development Thuliswa Nkabinde-Khawe who was looking forward to be part of this Seminar. Her dedication to advance the social development and social justice agenda, not only here in Gauteng but across South Africa, will be forever remembered.

I hope that the outpouring of love and support to her family will help in some small way and comfort her family during this extremely difficult time.


 Ladies and Gentlemen, the central theme of this seminar is to harness the power and enable voices from the global South to drive innovation on population and development issues through collaborations, sharing knowledge and skills, generating of new ideas and successful initiatives in specific areas such as human rights, urbanisation, health, climate change and so on.

The agenda of this seminar is short, but very engaging as it brings together relevant key partners to work collaboratively and strategically through a constructive dialogue towards Nairobi and beyond.

This national dialogue is critical in consolidating our gains in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action in the last 25 years in South Africa. This is also crucial in building and sustaining momentum towards Vision 2030 (NDP) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as WE ACCELERATE THE PROMISE to LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we could not have chosen a perfect venue for this seminar than here at the Constitution Hill, a living museum that tells the story of our country’s long and turbulent journey to democracy. This venue that we are gathered at this morning was used as a prison and a military fort by the oppressive apartheid regime during the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

If these walls could talk, they will tell of the most horrific stories of gross human rights violations. Most importantly, they will tell of stories of resilience and the triumph of human spirit over enormous hardships and adversity.

These walls will tell of the tenacious spirit of Mama Winnie Mandela, Mama Albertina Sisulu, Fatima Meer and many others who spent time in the Women’s Jail and how they overcame a system that was meant to condemn them to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water in their own native land. These are the pioneering women who challenged the entrenched patriarchal beliefs and championed the women struggle for equal rights and fought tirelessly for sexual and reproductive health and rights as a fundamental human right issue.

Today, the place that was once a symbol of hatred and gross human rights violations is home to South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens. The Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the Constitution enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom regardless of age, race, religion, sex, colour, gender, sexual orientation or social origin.

25 years ago and just a few months after we have ushered in a new democratic dispensation, the United Nations convened the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which culminated into the Programme of Action (POA). Key amongst others, the ICPD POA emphasised the need to strengthen the social sector and calls on countries to exchange experiences on population and development issues at regional and international levels.

Partners in Population and Development (PPD) is an inter-governmental initiative created specifically for the purpose of expanding and improving South-South collaboration. In the last 25 years, PPD has increased its membership to 26 countries, which represent 60% of the total world population. Through advocacy, policy dialogues, exchange of information, best practices, research, training and technical cooperation, PPD members’ collaborations with each other and with many other non-members have, and continue to contribute significantly to global development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the genesis of the South-South Cooperation can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s when developing countries began seeking ways to chart their own development agenda to the existing economic and political order. This resulted in the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (BAPA).

To highlight the importance of South-South Cooperation, the General Assembly in its resolution 58/220 decided to observe the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation on 12 September every year. The date commemorates the adoption of BAPA in Argentina by 138 UN Member States in 1978. The UN Day for South-South Cooperation celebrates the economic, social and political developments made in recent years by regions and countries in the global South.

BAPA remains relevant today as it was 41 years when it was adopted by 138 UN Member States. It represents an opportunity to reflect, review and scale up South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the evolving global political and economic landscape, as well as emerging issues that pervade 21st century. The adoption of Agenda 2030 in 2015 added another dimension to the role of South-South Cooperation in the development agenda. In fact, Goal 17 of the SDGs recognises and emphasises the complementary role that South-South Cooperation plays in relation to North-South Cooperation in obtain these goals. South-South Cooperation also plays an important role in achieving Africa’s ambitious Agenda 2063.

41 years on, PPD is advancing the goals of BAPA. From inception with the initial ten member countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America, PPD membership has now increased to 26 developing countries. Taken together, PPD member countries represent 60 % of the world population. Recognising the importance of collaborating and partnering with like-minded countries to advance our national development agenda, the Government of South Africa joined PPD in 2007 through the Department of Social Development. From 2014 to date, the Minister of Social Development has been serving as the Secretary of PPD EXCO and Boards, after re-election last year.

Through PPD, we have collaborated with a number of member countries and made significant advances in the implementation of South Africa’s Population Policy, particularly in the key areas of family planning, population, sexual and reproductive health, environmental management and maternal health. These include academic exchange and capacity building programmes.

We have also conducted study tours to India, Sweden and Brazil in the field of universal access to sexual reproductive health and family planning. Our commitment to South-South Cooperation is reflected through a number of regional and international initiatives and affiliations, which include our work on population and development in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), amongst others. South Africa continues to be instrumental in working with other PPD member countries to strengthen mechanisms to evaluate regional and international instruments such as SADC and the African (AU) Reports on the ICPD Programme of Action, the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development and the BRICS Reports on Population Matters.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nairobi Summit offers the countries of the global South Africa the opportunity to turn our growing potential and collective influence on the global stage to push forward an inclusive global development agenda that is critical for sustainable development. This is the agenda that leaves no one behind. Together, let us build on what we have achieved thus far by continuously identifying and encouraging critical areas where South-South cooperation can be effective as we accelerate the promise and continue to implement the 2030 Agenda. Equally, we need to strengthen North-South collaborations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all of us gathered here today have a contribution to make sustainable development a reality for our people. I therefore encourage you all to continue contributing and maintaining momentum towards the Nairobi Summit and beyond in your respective areas of expertise.

I thank you.