By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to have grown to 9,000,000,000. That is 50 percent larger than the current population. Much of this population
growth is expected to happen in the developing world as living standards improve and mortality rates decline. In the North, the developed world,
populations are expected to grow slowly and in the case of Japan actually decline. The vast majority of people living in the world by this time are
expected to live in urban centres.
It is a fact, however, that all countries need to ensure that their people have access to clean water and food. Amina Mohamed, who works as deputy executive
director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) told a forum that food security and environmental sustainability will be the watch words for
the global south in the next half century. This means that developing nations while trying to eradicate poverty through economic development, will also
have to balance ecological protection policies.
This balancing act has already begun in a number of developed countries with differing degrees of success. It became even more important after the Rio+20
Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil during June, 2012. The summit marked the 20th anniversary of the first conference on sustainable
development in the same city. The objectives of the Rio+20 conference were as follows:
1. Securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development
2. Assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting previous commitments.
3. Addressing new and emerging challenges.
There were also two main themes. These were “how to build a green economy” and “how to improve international coordination.” The primary outcome of the
conference was the publishing of a working paper entitled The Future We Want. It restated many old goals, supported the idea of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) and gave aid to UNEP in order to make it a global authority on sustainable development.
One of the important recognitions the conference made was recognising the fact that people are going to have to change the way they produce and consume
food and other products. The idea is to ensure all people have food security, rather than a relative minority over consuming. The World Health Organization
(WHO) defines food security as food availability, food access and food use. The stability of these facets is important over time.
At the moment food security is unbalanced in the world. Naturally some areas are more productive than others, but it does not explain fully why one billion
people are overweight while 800 million are undernourished. An estimated two billion people do not live in an environment with food security. This one
third of the world’s current population. Six million die of hunger every year. The challenge facing the global south is how to help each other improve
conditions if the developed world is either unwilling or unable to help.
Since the inception of the idea in the 1970s, south-south cooperation has been centred around developing countries help one another solve problems without
the help or interference of developed nations. With 192 countries signed up to the food security and sustainability ideals of Rio+20, south-south
cooperation has taken on a more important role for member countries. Previously, this kind of cooperation centred around economics, politics and security.
Now it will develop into finding ways to increase food productivity in difficult landscapes while protecting the environment. As many countries are still
relatively poor, the sharing of ideas will become the most important aspect of this programme. Sharing knowledge, says Amina Mohamed, should be used to
help with capacity building while south-south alliances should be fostered to help pressurise richer nations into giving more funding to sustainability
projects around the world.
One way some developed nations have been helping south-south cooperation has been through tripartite deals. This involves using a United Nations agency to
help broker deals between two members of the global south. One agency that has helped to create dozens of such south-south deals has been the UN’s Food and
Agriculture Organizations (FAO). This includes the Food Security
support programmes run by the organization. One example is a deal
brokered by the FAO with China and Senegal. As part of the deal China will send 26 experts and technicians to Senegal to provide assistance with food
Crucially many UN programmes and agencies understand the importance of educating future leaders about the importance of these projects. There are a variety
of programmes that include south-south dialogues and global south cooperation as a central tenet of their education. An example being an adult and youth programme on south-south
cooperation for Portuguese speakers.
Sharing knowledge is key to good education and it is hoped future innovators from across the globe may one day find the solutions to today’s problems. To
aid this forums and groups organise international adult and youth meetings in different countries. This has helped to foster international relations and
cooperation between youths from across the globe, but particularly from the global south. The youths have learnt about the benefits of cooperation and some
of the road blocks too. This ranges from being told to avoid changing money in the wrong places, showing how complex
international cooperation can be at times, not to mention how corruption can cause problems, to drawing up resolutions and reports of their own after