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[Ban Ki-moon Center for International Cooperation] “Development is a Constant Struggle to Find a Right Answer”
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Inadequate infrastructure is a constraint on growth and impacts quality of life whereas good infrastructure helps reduce poverty and inequality. Two distinguished IGEE SD professors attempted to shed light on the importance of infrastructure and more broadly to discuss the existing and future potential of Private- Public Partnerships (PPP) in helping achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

World Bank Senior Advisor Jaehyang So explained on November 14 that PPPs are rooted in the same integrated approach as the SDGs in that each component must be pursued as an integral part of the whole. As part of the Understanding Sustainable Development with Ban Ki-moon course, So’s lecture illustrated how developing quality reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure can support economic development and human well-being.

So explained that the term PPP mainly refers to infrastructure because of their importance in terms of basic development and growth, and stressed that PPP helps progress in access to quality education, healthcare, water, and sanitation, among other SDG targets and indicators. She iterated that for PPPs to become an instrument for financing key economic infrastructure projects, it is necessary that countries have in place the institutional capacity to create, manage, and evaluate them.

In closing, So said that there isn’t a very clear answer as to why one particular country develops and another country doesn’t. “What is the secret of development success? Many people have tried to answer the question but nobody knows. Development is a constant struggle to find a right answer,” she said.

Another SD professor and Asian Development Bank Director Um Woochong’s lecture on November 14 illustrated how ADB’s future operations will be designed to help developing member countries meet the SDGs and how its deeper engagement with countries on SDG priorities and opportunities will accelerate progress.

Um, who leads ADB-wide knowledge management and innovation in various thematic and sector operation areas, illustrated in particular how transport will remain a major part of ADB’s infrastructure operations, and how ADB is already in transition in terms of its transport investment to assist with the shift to low-carbon sustainable growth across Asia and the Pacific.

Um explained that cities in the region are facing increasing demand for financing sustainable growth-inducing infrastructure such as roads, transport, and social infrastructure systems. “Urban infrastructure plays a crucial role in terms of meeting the demands of the poor. Building better, more sustainable infrastructure will provide the basis for achieving the SDGs,” he said. Um stressed that ADB has tracked the links between its projects and the SDGs since 2016 and is improving monitoring how the projects and programs it finances will support SDG targets.

For 15 weeks, the Understanding Sustainable Development with Ban Ki-moon course invited more than 10 senior officials and professors to share their knowledge and experience on international development with Yonsei undergraduate students. The topics of the lecture series ranged from peace and security to green urban development and gender equality.

“My understanding of SDGs changed in such a way that it has benefitted me to think more in depth and learn about international development in more detail from different perspectives,” says Minji Ko, a graduating senior. “I came to realize that what’s most important is for me to change, for me to change my thoughts, for me to change something to change the society.”

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