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"The most crucial element (in strengthening South-South cooperation) is empowering people because they are the movers behind these networks."

This statement was emphasized by the Department of Science and Technology XI (DOST XI) Regional Director and Corporate Secretary of Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy (HELP Davao Network), Dr. Anthony C. Sales, during the discussion in the Malaysian National Commission Network Dialogue conducted last July 22.

Dr. Sales highlighted the importance of 'giving voices' to all stakeholders to ensure that the goals will be met when implementing programs and projects, fitting to the Dialogue’s theme which centered on "Synergising Partnership to Empower Building Forward Differently." 

"We need to capacitate them (people) so that they can efficiently and effectively develop and implement programs and projects which are intended to benefit not only the countries within the partnership," Dr. Sales added. 

Dr. Sales also shared success stories on how  empowering and capacitating the people can result in the development of evidence-based solutions and tools such as the Science, Engineering, Technology, and Innovation (SETI) Scorecard.

SETI Scorecard is a tool used to assess the contribution of SETI Projects in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals and has been adopted across the Philippines and other regions in the Asia Pacific, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.  

Dr. Hans Thulstrup, a Senior Program Specialist for Water and Environmental Sciences at UNESCO Jakarta, also highlighted that the fund donations from different UNESCO member states allow cooperation between countries and help UNESCO achieve the goals and objectives set by foreign countries. 

"These are different programs with different objectives and goals, but what they do is that they provide an opportunity to strengthen professional linkages among universities, researchers, government and non-government agencies, civil society, and communities," he added.

Dr. Nor Hisham bin Ismail, Head of Educational Planning and Research Division in Malaysia Education Ministry, empowers their stakeholders by providing experts in various forum policy events, and they also hold regional forums to address issues on sector policy planning which led to the establishment of effective collaboration with other members addressing issues on education access and literacy. 

Dr. Sales believes that the success of various international partnerships lies in inclusivity. Apart from the commitment and contribution, development should involve as many perspectives as possible from different stakeholders. 

The network dialogue sought to discuss the critical roles individuals, organizations, and institutions should take to ensure the synergistic strengthening of South-South cooperation. 

DOST XI S&T Information and Promotion