Remarks of Resident Coordinator in Thailand to mark the South-South Cooperation

The remarks of RC Gita Sabharwal at the event 'SSC, COVID-19 Impacts on the Progress Towards the SDGs and the Role of S-S volunteerism', at UNESCAP.

It is an honor to be celebrating together with you the UN Day for South-South Cooperation in Thailand. South-South and triangular cooperation are deemed as critical contributors to the sustainable development Agenda. In this regard, Thailand has led by example, by becoming a regional leader and ensuring South-South Cooperation is a key pillar in the United Nations Partnership Framework for the country.

The timing for this event could not be better as we seek to recover and build back better from the pandemic. Countries have come to realize the commitment of people who volunteer and support others during times of crisis - in inspiring ways – both onsite and online.  

Thailand has also benefited from a culture of generosity among the Thai population. As the Prime Minister recently noted in his speech at the UN, there are more than 10 million volunteers in the country. This includes the million voluntary health workers who were critical to contact tracing and awareness raising – the two key reasons for the successful management of the pandemic. That is the depth of social capital that can be drawn upon to help the country as it recovers.  I believe, this whole-of-society approach to tackling the pandemic will set a trend in the region and globally.

The UN in Thailand, together with UNV Regional Office, have launched the Volunteer-Force program to bring on board young people to volunteer with UN agencies. This has been a big success. My office alone has 5 such volunteers! This tradition of volunteerism has made Thailand a hub of knowledge and good practices for neighboring countries. 

The Friends from Thailand Volunteer Programme is another testament to the criticality of development cooperation, solidarity, and mutual understanding. It is great to see volunteers within this program working and living with local communities, transferring their skills in agriculture, public health, architecture, and education, and acquiring new skills themselves. 

It is also exciting to learn that Cambodia and China are realizing the benefits of South-South cooperation through volunteering. This is true people to people diplomacy, which creates equal partnership and contributes towards the Sustainable Development Goals. 

I commend the Thailand International Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been the leading light as a southern partner and a new donor agency championing triangular cooperation and volunteerism. The UN in Thailand is also working closely with TICA to develop a more effective strategy for South-South and Triangular Cooperation to impactfully share development lessons to advance SDGs across borders.  

I truly welcome the publication “South-South Volunteering as a driving force for development: Experiences from Asia and the Pacific” and look forward to hearing from the partners and volunteers from Thailand, Cambodia and China today.  

The UN in Thailand stands ready to facilitate South-South and Triangular cooperation and volunteerism and cultivate citizens who can fully participate in national and global society. I would like to express my appreciation for the continued partnership of the Royal Thai Government in working with the UN towards the SDGs. I would also like to express my gratitude for the collaboration between Thailand International Cooperation Agency, the Office of South-South Cooperation and UNV, in bringing us this important publication today. Finally, my deepest thanks to all the volunteers in Thailand and beyond for the inspiration and efforts to help us all achieve sustainable development.  

Gita Sabharwal
Resident Coordinator
Ms Gita Sabharwal
United Nations