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General Statement at the Second UN High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation

General Statement at the Second UN High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation © Office of the President


Excellencies, Distinguished Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Firstly, let me thank Argentina for hosting the Second United Nations High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation. Thank you also for a warm welcome here in Buenos Aires.

South-South cooperation has just reached an important milestone – 40 years since the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries.

At the time, it created a milestone platform for sharing experiences between developing countries.

We can even say, it was an innovative endeavour. But we have come a long way since 1978. We acknowledge that many countries have similar development concerns, circumstances and contexts – historical, political, economic, environmental and social.

Therefore, South-South and triangular cooperation have become an inseparable part of the bigger development cooperation architecture.

When it comes to my own country, Estonia, we were a newly independent country in transition just 30 years ago. Exactly at the situation many developing countries find themselves today. We were struggling to find our way to create a better future for our people.

We are very grateful for our partners and like-minded democracies for all their support they gave us. Learning from other´s experiences was useful, but the key to success was finding our own solutions according to our own needs and own challenges.

We believe that innovation and digitalization have a crucial role in achieving sustainable development goals more rapidly.

This is why Estonia particularly appreciates the reference to the application of ICT within the outcome document of this Conference.

Of course, there is also another side of digitalization – cybersecurity - that we have to tackle all countries together, including in the UN, and particularly in UN security council.

Absolutely every country needs to develop solutions that work best in their culture and their society. Estonia has surpassed the status of a country receiving aid. And now, we are eager to help. We want to contribute, we work through our development cooperation initiatives, for example through the Estonian e-Governance Academy that was established in cooperation with the UNDP.

Together with the UNDP we develop a practical tool for rapid assessment of digital development needs of individual countries.

We appreciate that the UNDP as a host to the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation will share this knowledge globally. We also cooperate on digitalisation regionally, such as through the African Union, and together with Australia, with the Pacific Island States.

We are active bilaterally in a number of Caribbean Countries and would like to strengthen the regional aspects through close relationships with CARICOM.

Partnerships between the government and business sector have been one of the key factors for our success. We learned early on that to allow all sectors to develop, we need to engage all stakeholders, including civil society, private sector, volunteers, academia, scientific and technological communities, foundations and think-tanks, to name a few.

To fill the gap between the analyses of all the digital and practical implementation, we have found that it is not enough to cooperate and to work only with all the stakeholders. We need to start funding the resources to help countries seek into info using digital to help them to develop.

Estonia established Global Digital Development Foundation just a few days ago. The mission of this foundation is to assist developing countries to establish digital society according to their needs. This foundation is open for investments from international organisations, countries and also private enterprises. And we will promise you all here that to approach this foundation in the future will not be overly bureaucratic, it will be the perfect tool released in digital. Developing countries can seek finances if they want to develop a digital society.

Estonia has also, in accordance with our commitment to the Paris Agreement and international climate cooperation, decided to provide 1 million EUR annually until 2020 to SIDS and other developing countries to alleviate the effects of climate change through the use of new technologies and knowledge. From the money we receive from the sales of a CO2 quota, Estonia has established Environment Investment Centre and this has already chosen the first projects to be supported in exporting smart climate and environment related solutions to developing countries.

Let’s continue to work together, think together, save our planet together and work for our people together. Thank you!