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Press Release

UN Launches Interactive Website to Support South-South Co-Operation
23/ 05/ 2012

UN Launches Interactive Website to Support South-South Co-OperationUser-Generated Content to Improve Information-Sharing on Sustainable Development

New York / Nairobi, 23 May 2012 - What do a biomass project at a Kenyan sugar factory, sustainable mining in Sierra Leone and orang-utan conservation in the rainforests of Borneo have in common?
All three are among a host of initiatives included in a new online database from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which aims to strengthen partnerships between sustainable development projects in developing countries.
The website was launched today during the 17th session of the United Nations High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation in New York.
Governments, NGOs, research centres, civil society, academics, and others working on environmental issues in developing countries are invited to submit content to the database and share their expertise and experiences with peers.
The first online portal of its kind, the South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism will also provide multimedia updates, a discussion forum and other interactive features.  
The initiative aims to improve access to information, best practices, methodologies, advisory services and training opportunities that can enable communities to better manage their natural resources and local environment.
The UNEP South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism is available at: www.unep.org/south-south-cooperation
South-South co-operation - the exchange of technology, skills, resources and information between governments, organizations and individuals in the developing world - is increasingly seen as a cornerstone of sustainable development.
The exchange mechanism will initially focus on projects with direct links to the environment, and where UNEP and its partners have been directly involved. The scope of the initiative is then expected to expand, to include South-South sustainable development initiatives in a broader sense.  
"This new initiative is the latest development in UNEP's ongoing efforts to support South-South cooperation and capacity-building", said Amina Mohamed, UNEP Deputy Executive Director at the launch of the exchange mechanism in New York.
"Central among these is UNEP's green economy initiative, which has assisted and encouraged developing countries to embed sustainability within their national economies- from organic agriculture in Cuba to solar energy in Barbados. These are projects which have the potential to be scaled-up and replicated elsewhere in the global South."  
"At next month's Rio+20 summit in Brazil, where the green economy is a central theme, world governments have the opportunity to put in place the policies needed to catalyze a transition to a Green Economy - an economic paradigm where South-South co-operation is at the centre of global efforts to tackle poverty eradication and support sustainable development," added Ms. Mohamed.
Features of the online exchange mechanism include:

Current Events and Archive: Alerts regarding relevant events and conferences, latest news on South-South Cooperation and the environment, archive space for   UNEP materials

Case Base: Repository of case studies, searchable by sector or thematic area, and which includes financial arrangements, organizations involved, project structure, contact persons and lessons learned

Partners: Contact details and information materials from UN and non-UN organizations working on South-South co-operation

Interactive Tools: Users can become members of a dedicated discussion forum, follow selected blogs, and add other content to the site

Case studies currently included in the exchange mechanism address climate change, biodiversity, waste management and many other issues. The website will be managed and moderated by staff at UNEP's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
One of the initial case studies focuses on the West Kenya Sugar Company Limited, which is collaborating with partners in India and Brazil and the United Nations to develop a biomass cogeneration facility that will reduce carbon emissions and improve the company's energy efficiency.
Other case studies include an initiative to ensure the equitable and environmentally sound development of mining in Sierra Leone, amid growing interest in the country's resources from investors. The national government has collaborated with experts from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and Namibia to develop environmental guidelines, impact assessments and other measures to help ensure that future mining is carried out sustainably.
Currently, around 30 case studies from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean can already be consulted. This initial selection is set to grow as users contribute content to the website.  
Notes to Editors
The South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism is available at: www.unep.org/south-south-cooperation
UNEP and South-South Cooperation
The Bali Strategic Plan (BSP), which was initially adopted by UNEP's Governing Council in 2005, is an inter-governmentally agreed framework for strengthening the capacity of governments in developing countries and countries with economies in transition to coherently address their needs, priorities and obligations in the field of the environment.
The BSP establishes South-South Cooperation as a key mechanism for the implementation of capacity building and technology support activities in response to well-defined country priorities and needs.
Specifically, the Bali Strategic Plan stresses the need to intensify efforts directed towards institutional capacity-building, including through the exchange of expertise, experiences, information and documentation between the institutions of the South in order to develop human resources and strengthen institutions.

For more information, please contact:
UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on +254 20 762 5022 or E-mail: unepnewsdesk@unep.org
Jim Sniffen, UNEP (New York) on Tel. +1212 963 8094 or E-mail: sniffenj@un.org

Further Resources
Remarks by Amina Mohamed at the 17th session of the UN High-Level Committee