China is an increasingly important player in international development amongst others in what is called South-South Cooperation (SSC), an initiative launched by the FAO in 1996 that was considered an alternative to the conventional “North-South" international development relations. China has become one of the biggest contributors to the FAO SSC programme with projects implemented in countries in the South worldwide. These projects include agricultural technology transfer, variety development and crop demonstration, agricultural research and training.
Recently FAO approached the Netherlands to join the initiative and share its international agricultural Research & Development expertise. The bilateral south-south cooperation became triangular cooperation with a specific focus on aquaculture. Since 2020 the WUR collaborates with the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (FECC) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and the Freshwater Fishery Research Center (FFRC) as part of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences with as main aim strengthening their international cooperation capacity.
The cooperation between the three institutes equally benefits the WUR: “China has become an important player in the global south. Like Wageningen University & Research more and more Chinese institutions are part of an international research and development community. What can we learn from each other and where can we join hands", says Ms. Marianne van Dorp, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI). A number of WR and WU Departments such as Wageningen Livestock Research and the Aquaculture and Fisheries Group participate in the project.
Project implementation is organised in four complementary work streams:
- Joint review of international sustainable development approaches, relevant policy processes and practices in both the agricultural and aquaculture domains. The South-South Cooperation initiative is one such approach. As Ms. Yu Hao-Miao of FECC is saying: “China's role in South-South cooperation is steadily growing; collaboration with Wageningen will help FECC to review and enhance the effectiveness of that initiative".
- Research and Development in aquaculture. This includes both research on nutritious ponds using in-pond recirculation as a contribution to more sustainable aquaculture (see picture) as well as joint comparative reviews of international aquaculture projects initiated by either China or the Netherlands.
- An inventory of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the agriculture and aquaculture sectors as initiated by both China and the Netherlands and research into the impact of such PPPs on sustainable development goals in a number of countries in the global South.
- Sharing and strengthening the approaches of the three institutes in international (on-line) training of mid-career professionals.
Prof. XU Pao from FFRC: “the project is helping FFRC to strengthen its international extension role in aquaculture".
The role of FAO is to coordinate the initiative. A joint pilot project in the aquaculture sector in Ethiopia in which the triangular cooperation between the partners will be consolidated is planned for in the near future.