17th September 2023 – (Havana) Representing over four billion people across the globe, leaders of the Group of 77 plus China convened in Havana, Cuba last month in a show of solidarity and cooperation between developing nations. Addressing an audience containing representatives of over 80% of the world’s population, speakers outlined both the opportunities and challenges facing the Global South today.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres set the tone, noting that developing countries are “trapped in a tangle of global crises” such as climate change and unsustainable debt levels. He called on China and the G77 to work together in building a more equitable world. In this, Guterres recognised the group has become an important voice for the interests of poorer nations during troubling times of rising protectionism.

Developing countries undoubtedly face significant hurdles to progress. Economic growth remains sluggish while environmental issues threaten livelihoods. Geopolitical instability and attacks on multilateral cooperation only compound these difficulties. Meanwhile, populist rhetoric risks undermining global consensus. It is in overcoming such formidable barriers that collaboration proves crucial.

Li Xi, representing Chinese President Xi Jinping, reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to deepening ties with G77 members through the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s Global Development Initiative. Both place emphasis on public health, sustainability and prosperity, as outlined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda. Cooperation has clearly delivered results, improving infrastructure across partnerships and unlocking latent economic potential.

Nothing Li proposed was particularly revolutionary. Where China and its partners distinguish themselves is in the practical implementation of established development goals. Connecting nations through trade, finance and people-to-people links in an open and inclusive manner has seen infrastructure built, opportunities opened and crises weathered together.

Chief among the group’s objectives are defending multilateral solutions to shared challenges and upholding international law. However, its greatest successes involve on-the-ground cooperation. South-South partnerships have propelled infrastructure projects, industrial development and poverty alleviation efforts that directly impact billions of lives.

Climate change mitigation shows the strength of joint action. While the impacts of global warming disproportionately affect the poor, collaborative pandemic responses show resilience in adversity. Medical cooperation spanned information and resource sharing, demonstrating commitment to global wellbeing.

Protecting inalienable rights from self-determination to freedom from interference underpins the group’s advocacy. Yet developmental achievements impart their own voice, empowering constituents and safeguarding interests through prosperity instead of rhetoric alone. Revitalizing trade between the global south through preferential mechanisms like the GSTP offers economic clout.

Outreach across multiple platforms ensures the needs and perspectives of developing countries are heard loudly and clearly. But the loudest message comes from translating principles into tangible impacts, proving the merits of unity in action.

Of course, collaboration must navigate challenges, from unfavourable global trends to internal divergences between interests. Not all solutions will satisfy all parties. However, as highlighted in Havana, the G77+China retains influence in shaping the debate around priorities like addressing unilateralism and defending multilateral agreements.

Commitment to the group’s core values amid difficulty was reaffirmed. While opposition arises, developing nations remain dedicated to cooperation as the surest means towards sovereignty, stability and standards of living befitting all peoples regardless of nationality or means. Concrete achievements testify to the rewards of unity.

Looking ahead, the future appears bright for South-South partnerships as engines of development, harmonising disparate strengths for shared gain. As poverty declines and new technologies disseminate across global production and supply networks, prosperity will spread wider still. For over four billion inhabitants of emerging economies, cooperation between developing nations represents the surer path towards realizing their full potential and securing a more just and equitable world for all.