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The world in 2030 will depend on the partnerships we make today

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A herd of elephants walk through the open plains A herd of elephants walk through the open plains
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
— African Proverb

Throughout its development period during the 1970s and 1980s, South Korea learned the value of global partnerships, foreign investment, and public-private partnerships (PPPs) in reaching national healthcare goals. Even today, synergy through PPPs and other partnerships are a driving force in the healthcare system as South Korea and other nations work toward universal health coverage (UHC).

In July of 2018, the European Medicines Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) announced that Valsartan, a drug used to treat high blood pressure, was found to contain a chemical carcinogen.

Right away they announced a recall.

In response, South Korea’s drug utilization review system (DUR) jumped into action, headed by Korea Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA). The system identified every patient with a Valsartan prescription—almost 180,000 in total. Within a few hours it sent out urgent alerts telling providers to call their patients and have them return the drugs to be replaced with safer alternatives.

The system had a replacement score of 99.9%. In other countries, this crisis was handled slower and less effectively.

When all members of a team are rowing in the same direction, the boat moves much faster.

Partnerships—especially between the public and private sector—are valuable, as evidenced in the above example. This doesn’t have to be a 50-50 split. In South Korea, it actually looks more like 90-10, with the private sector providing around 90% of health care services while the government shoulders about 10%. One of the most important challenges to achieving universal health coverage globally is the sustainability of financing. Private competition has helped solve this problem, while pushing healthcare providers to constantly improve their services for South Korean consumers.

Partnerships are key for growth at every level. A case in point is the partnership between the World Bank Group (WBG) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on UHC2030, a global movement to build stronger health systems for UHC.


When 8th UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon worked with UN member states to create the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they recognized that creating a more sustainable world could never happen unless we worked together and included Goal 17: Partnerships for global development within the SDG framework.


Funding, knowledge sharing, and effective public-private partnerships help form the basis of Goal 17. And for the past decade, these partnerships have been working. Loan disbursements to low and middle-income countries reached $54 billion in 2016—an all-time high. Also, China’s Belt and Road initiative has opened new corridors for growth in developing nations.

However, that spirit of cooperation has waned in some areas. Global flows of FDI dropped by 23 percent in 2017, cross-border investment in developed economies fell sharply, and PPP as a proportion of GDP has dropped.

In this environment, it’s questionable whether some nations will be given the same opportunities that the world gave South Korea during its own development. Without that willingness to partner and cooperate, those nations face great challenges on their journey towards UHC.


After his tenure at the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon co-founded the Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment (IGEE) and Ban Ki-moon Center for Sustainable Development at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

IGEE is making partners globally to help nations reach their development goals. In April, the government of South Korea announced funding to support an SDG Acceleration Toolbox that will focus on three countries: Kazakhstan, Vietnam, and Egypt. The SDG Acceleration Toolbox will strengthen these countries’ ability to implement the 2030 Agenda and attain the SDGs, and they’ll have IGEE as a partner along the way.

IGEE and the Ban Ki-moon Center for Sustainable Development also created the Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF)—which organized its second annual event in Seoul on February 15, 2019.

GEEF 2019.png

GEEF’s vision is to become a platform for building a global network of stakeholders—thought leaders who can share solutions to carry out over the next 10 years as they implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. GEEF 2019 brought together leaders like Mr. Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group Senior Vice President Mahmoud Mohieldin, strengthening the partnership between IGEE and the WBG. And GEEF 2020 will continue to build on that relationship and connect even more voices from around the world.

It's already 2020, which means we have only one decade to go before we arrive at 2030—our target date for achieving the 17 SDGs. How the world looks in 2030, whether in healthcare or other areas of development, will have a lot to do with how we approach partnerships today. How far we go will depend on how well we carry out SDG 17.  


Myongsei Sohn

Guest Blogger/ Executive Director of IGEE

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