German Institute for Development Evaluation
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29.03.2019 - Advantages and challenges of triangular cooperation

At a side event to the United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) in Buenos Aires, DEval took part in a panel discussion on triangular cooperation. This form of cooperation involves a traditional donor (such as Germany), an emerging economy and a developing country working together on an equal footing to implement activities in the developing country.

Speaking to an audience of around 50 people, the panelists provided an overview of their triangular cooperation arrangements in Germany, Indonesia and Paraguay, particularly emphasising the advantages that can flow from the cooperation of three partners. Marcus Kaplan, team leader of an ongoing DEval evaluation on triangular cooperation, pointed out the intended strategic political impact of triangular cooperation. This includes a fundamental improvement in trust and collaboration between the partners, while encouraging emerging economies to support other countries in their development.

The subsequent discussion examined the higher transaction costs that result from the partnership between three countries, and possible ways of keeping these to a minimum. The additional strategic political impact might justify the higher transaction costs. However, each case should be analysed individually, in order to determine whether triangular cooperation is the appropriate approach.

Participants also stressed the importance of learning from one another and the need to make the modality visible at the political level. In his closing statement, Marcus Kaplan pointed out that a wide range of experience has already been gained internationally in implementing triangular cooperation. He advocated reviewing these lessons learnt – for example in evaluations - and using them to clarify the advantages and challenges involved in triangular cooperation.

Background Information

The panel discussion Lessons Learnt from Triangular Cooperation: Looking at the Results and Sharing Partner Perspectives was organised by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as a side event to the BAPA +40 in Buenos Aires, in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paraguay. The BAPA +40 marked the 40th anniversary of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, which was agreed in 1978 to promote technical cooperation between developing countries. This south-south cooperation has now been extended to include trilateral cooperation. Such cooperation has become more important in view of the 2030 Agenda, which describes the need to establish new global partnerships. In addition to DEval, the panel consisted of representatives from business, politics, civil society and the private sector in the countries organising the event.

The DEval evaluation on triangular cooperation will be published at the beginning of 2020 based on a detailed analysis of the German portfolio, providing important information about the roles, effects, success factors and challenges involved.

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