2020 lessons on partnerships – and wishes for 2021

The year 2020 has taught us some valuable lessons about partnerships. And left a lot to wish for.

Partners for Impact (PFI) was founded in July 2020, in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The impetus to found this new initiative was a strong belief that all successes in international development have been through work in partnership.

The discovery of several Covid-19 vaccines in just a few months time is a prime example of how partnerships can be formed quickly and work well, also under great duress. If there is demand, if incentives are aligned, and if there is a willingness to work together, great innovations can be achieved.

However, as our founding blog outlined, and Covid-19 has exemplified, many organisations in international development remain uncomfortable working in partnership. There is a worrying and inefficient degree of “going it alone” in the sector, which undermines collective impact. Or organisations work in partnerships, but loose themselves in complexity, and loose sight of the impact they aimed to achieve.

Without well-functioning partnerships, and a razor-sharp focus on impact, there is a real risk that life-saving innovations such as vaccines will not reach the people who need them.

2021 will be another litmus test for the international development sector. Is there sufficient willingness to work together – and sufficient willingness to finance this collaboration – to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine globally? Will partnerships place impact front and center of their efforts?

We at Partners for Impact hope that our blogs and interviews and further resources have been helpful for your work. We wish you a healthy, balanced 2021.

Published by Katri Bertram

Katri has worked in global health, global public policy, and international development for 20 years, and is a mom of four children. She is driven in her work to ensure that all people can live healthy lives, equity becomes a reality, and the power of inclusive partnerships is leveraged for more impact. Katri most recently worked at the German Federal Ministry of Health on global health, focusing in particular on Germany’s G7 Presidency in 2022, G20, and the Ministry’s partnerships with non-state actors. She previously worked at the World Bank, where she was a member of the leadership team, heading External Relations (governance, fundraising, partnerships, and communications) for the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents (GFF) and worked in External Relations at the World Bank’s office for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. She has also worked for Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation that works in 120 countries, where she as a member of the global executive leadership team headed global advocacy, policy, and campaigning. Katri is a graduate of the London School of Economics (Master in International Relations), the Hertie School (Master in Public Policy), and the University of York (Bachelor in Economics and Politics). Katri is fluent in English, German, and Finnish. She has received scholarships from Chevening, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES), Berlin School for Transnational Studies (BTS), the Finnish Government (CIMO), and the Hertie Foundation. Katri lives in Berlin/Germany and is Finnish by nationality. Also follow Katri on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on her personal blog, and follow her initiative on partnerships in international development (PFI) and having children and a career in Germany (KarriereFamilie). The contents of all blogs are personal and do not reflect the positions of any employers.

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