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This paper is part of a series collating literature, resources, and actions that have focused on efforts to create change in the aid sector, developed in support of systems change initiative, theRINGO Project(Reimagining the INGO). This paper considers the topic of ‘South-South and North-South partnerships’ with the intent to help keep practitioners up to date with the evolving discussions in this area and promote awareness of initiatives among aid and development actors. It seeks to contribute to fostering a collaborative and reflective space, as a useful resource to invite discussion and contemplation, a ‘conversation starter’ as to what is defined as ‘disruptive’ transformational change and how the sector can work to meaningfully achieve this paradigm shift. 

Partnerships can help to foster stronger collaboration between INGOs and LNGOs. Key insights gleaned from extensive consultations capturing the views and experiences of global South CSOs on critical actors within the ecosystem, reinforce the importance of “partnership arrangements that build and support bottom-up-oriented mindsets and approaches, [and] create more meaningful collaboration”. Further, consultations noted that creating enabling environments where global south CSOs can co-construct (INGOs) equitable practices build “a true partnership.”

There are also continuing discussions around the roles, efforts and impacts of North-South Cooperation, South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation framework structures. As defined by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), “South-South Cooperation (SSC) has become a broad framework for collaboration and partnership among countries from the South in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and technical domains”. Triangular Cooperation has also been established as a vehicle through which South-South CSOs, donors and multilateral organisations can seek to foster initiatives and funding and other forms of support.

Research, learnings, and case studies in this section share examples of North-South and South-South partnerships that are working to strengthen equitable partnership-based aid and humanitarian action, as well as highlighting current inadequacies or approaches that can limit effective partnerships and collaboration between North-South organisations around decision-making, project design and implementation and predefined (often Western) systems, models, and structures.

‘Transformation in the aid and development sector?’ is proudly presented by Centre for Humanitarian Leadership and Rights CoLab as part of the RINGO project, with the generous support of the IKEA Foundation.
Learn more about the series and read the other guides here.