South-South and city-to-city cooperation: a strategic topic in the ILO UCLG partnership

On 21 April, the International Labour Organization (ILO) invited UCLG to exchange and jointly strategize on South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) with 80 ILO directors and staff at the ILO Academy on Development Cooperation in Turin. The sessions, which followed a World Café methodology, allowed for experiences to be exchanged, and many opportunities were detected for future South-South and Triangular Cooperation modalities, with national ILO offices recognizing the increased relevance of involving cities in cooperation activities.

South-South cooperation and exchanges enable countries from the global South to benefit from solutions developed in contexts similar to their own, which are therefore better adapted to their realities. In an effort to systematize South-South exchanges and encourage partnerships, the ILO, as part of the UN system, has developed a strategy for SSTC, which is guided by the “Nairobi Document 2009”. The organization has been drawing on this strategy to develop an SSTC agenda in the field of decent work and child labour, and, during the event, launched a How-to Guide on SSTC and decent work (the publication can be found here).

In September 2012, the ILO and UCLG signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) along these lines, which framed the implementation of a city-to-city learning agenda focused on decent work and local economic development. Since then, the partnership has enabled several peer learning events to be held in Lleida, Maputo, Chefchaouen and Pasto.

The key role of city–to-city cooperation

During the sessions in Turin, UCLG emphasized the role of cities and local authorities in creating jobs, encouraging local economic development, defending the principles of decent work and addressing emerging topics, such as the informal economy seen from a strategic perspective

Local economic development (LED) is a priority in city-to-city cooperation in all its forms: historical twinning in the North, decentralized North-South cooperation, and the emerging South-South and city-to-city cooperation. City-to-city cooperation should go hand in hand with other forms of development cooperation.

The next peer learning event from the ILO and UCLG is scheduled to take place in Odienne, Ivory Coast, and will follow up the lessons learnt in Chefchaouen. The activity will be coordinated by UCLG Africa.

ILO and UCLG, along with the city of Turin and UNDP, are also organizing the Third World Forum on Local Economic Development that will take place between 15 and 18 October 2015.