Triangular Co-operation

Triangular Co-operation  

International development cooperation modalities and dynamic forces are evolving. New partners and partnership are emerging, and the shared challenge of realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is causing stakeholders to re-envision how they work together.  

In this context, theGlobal Partnership Initiative (GPI) on Effective Triangular Co-operation has developed a contemporary and more inclusive definition of Triangular Co-operationmoving from a focus on state actors to a contemporary understanding that includes new development actors and changing working methods. Triangular co-operation consists of three roles:  


a)  a beneficiary partner:

the target of the development results to be achieved through the triangular co-operation project



 b)  a pivotal partner:

has proven experience and shares its resources, knowledge and expertise, and


 c)  a facilitating partner:  

helps connect beneficiary and pivotal to form a partnership and provides financial and/or technical support

Partners may include governments as well as international and multilateral organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and others. Depending on the type of project, there may be more than one actor for each of the three partner roles and partners may change roles over the life cycle of a project. Inclusive partnerships, including those that support the lives of the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in fragile states, constitute the basis of triangular co-operation and are essential to leaving no one behind.  

Triangular cooperation arises from the combination of South-South and North-South cooperation, which creates partnerships for common development goals. As a result, triangular cooperation implies a multi-stakeholder approach and provides comparative advantages, as all partners involved bring forward their knowledge and expertise and trigger innovation, which in turn leads to mutual benefits.

In many cases, support in tackling a development challenge is solicited by either of the three partners. The Facilitator helps connect the Pivotal partner to the Beneficiary partner, while supporting the collaboration financially and technically, and the Pivotal partner provides expertise and other resources required.  


Visit Global Partnership Initiative (GPI)’s video for a brief overview of triangular cooperation!


In order to visualize triangular cooperation, one can think of the process as:

“A high-income country or Northern partner (Facilitator), partnering with an emerging or middle-income country or Southern partner (Pivotal) to assist a low-income or developing country (Beneficiary) in tackling a specific development challenge.”

Canada and triangular co-operation  

Global Affairs Canada has been a leading partner in the Global Partnership Initiative on Effective Triangular Co-operation. With the emergence of the new definition and Voluntary Guidelines for Effective Triangular Co-operationGAC is now partnering with CCIC to understand how Canadian civil society organizations are engaging in triangular co-operation.   

An opportunity for Canadian CSOs to learn and share their experiences  

Over 2019-2020, CCIC will work toraise awareness among Canadian CSOs about the new definition of triangular co-operation, identify and document CSO experiences in triangular co-operation, and consult Canadian CSOs on the key enabling factors for engaging in effective triangular co-operation. 

In addition to member engagement and data collection through focus groups, a survey and interviews, CCIC will convene a session at the Summit on Canada’s Global Leadership, between November 27 and 28, 2019 on triangular co-operation.   

Effective triangular co-operation – the future of collaborative development

Outcomes from this project 


  • Increased awareness of triangular co-operation and the opportunities it presents among Canadian CSOs, including for new partnerships. 
  • Identification of new opportunities for increased triangular co-operation with and by Canadian CSOs, informed by the opportunities and challenges associated with this modality of cooperation. 
  • Drawing out lessons learned to support Canadian partners in triangular co-operation to effectively engage.  


Get involved! 


Wondering if your organization is engaged in triangular cooperation? Ask yourself whether your organization is working with a Southern partner from outside the beneficiary country in which you work. If yes, then there is a good chance your organization engages in triangular cooperation, blending North-South and South-South partnerships.

Is your organization engaging in triangular co-operation or you would like to know more about this project, sign up here!

For general information requests regarding triangular co-operation, please contact Arianna Laboccetta, at