UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has held up the India-United Nations Development Partnership Fund as a model of deepening South-South cooperation that helps the poorest countries by working with them on their priorities.
Delivering the keynote address on Friday at the Fund’s first anniversary celebrations, he said its “focus on supporting people in least developed countries, small island developing states and landlocked developing states reflects our ambition to reach those that are left furthest behind and to reach them first.”
Guterres and other leaders of UN organisations as well representatives of the fund's beneficiaries praised India for leading the way in South-South cooperation.
The celebrations heard testimonies from officials, diplomats and UN Development Programme representatives from the field, who connected via video links, to the uniqueness of the Fund's responsiveness and its effectiveness by not earmarking the contributions and letting the recipients decide what their most pressing needs are.
India has committed $100 million over the next decade for the Fund and an additional $50 million during the next five years for Commonwealth countries under a separate window under the fund, India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said.
The Fund has more than 20 projects underway across the world in 25 countries, ranging from hurricane rehabilitation and climate early warning system to government accountability and agriculture.
Akbaruddin called for speeding up the implementation of the projects done through the UN agencies under what he called a “1-2-3 process.”
India has cut down the time it takes to assess and accept a project in under one month and hopes the projects will be completed in two years and none should go beyond three years, he said.
Akbaruddin said the at Fund was in addition to the various other aid programmes that India has bilaterally with countries and multilaterally with organisations.
Palau's Permanent Represtative Ngedikes Olai Uludong gave an example of how the Fund takes up the priorities of the recipients and not restrict them to match the donor's.
None of the major donors were willing to finance the small community health programmes vital to the small Pacific island nation as they only wanted to underwrite big hospitals, he said.
When he proposed a modest $50,000 community health project, he said India offered to provide even more money to extend the programme that was more important than hospitals to ensure its people's well-being.
India's leadership in technology could be harnessed to help the countries deal with their problems, many speakers said.
Uruguay's Permanent Representative Elbio Rosselli said that in his country the Fund has put a special emphasis on technology with a system for government accountability and dialogue.
Grete Faremo, the Executive Director of the UN office of Project Services, which has partnered with India on Fund projects, said that India lives up to the values of its ancient saying, “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” – World is one family – through the Fund.