The Impact of COVID-19 and the Sustainable Development Goals

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The Sustainable Development Goals with the Corona Virus on top
The Corona Virus taking over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The entire world is currently fighting the same battle - the fight against COVID-19. As each day passes, contentions about the global economy, political and economic orders, and healthcare systems continue to prevail in a myriad of discussions. The cost of the crisis in terms of loss of lives is painful, but the effects on the sustainable development prospects and the global economy are worrisome. Through many economic, social, and political avenues, this pandemic is heralded to affect the global development objectives at a vast scale, more prominently on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Sustainable Development Goals entails a vision of peace and prosperity for our world. The goals essentially acknowledge the irreconcilable trinity of equity, efficiency, and sustainability. This pandemic has uncovered the true colors of nations across the globe and has brought into question the very growth in achieving these goals and following of this triad. COVID-19 doesn’t just come in the way of the attainment of the SDGs but calls for a reevaluation of its timeline since the existence of this onslaught has hindered the growth of its accomplishment.

First off, the pandemic has created more isolated economics with the closure of borders and international migration. There have also been various notions that have raised suspicion among nations. All these factors playing out has led to the failure of multilateralism across the globe. Ergo, the SDG that takes all of this in and slowly falls apart is #17 – Partnership for all the goals.  

Inevitably, the pandemic severely affects SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being). As of May 2020, the virus has caught hold onto 3.7 million people and has taken the lives of over 258 thousand individuals. As the world has taken on the norms of social distancing and quarantine, we witness a heavy reliance on digital connectivity. However, the inability of being accommodated in the virtual world will lead challenges in the equity dimension of holistic developing, causing higher levels of poverty, hunger and thereby hampering SDGs 1, 2, 4, 6 and 10 (No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Clean Water, and Sanitation and Reduced Inequalities respectively).

The dent that the pandemic will leave of SDGs 8 and 9 (Decent Work and Economic Growth and Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) is fretting. Inflation has collapsed around the world and the global economy meets its deepest recession since the Great Depression. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) claimed that the annual growth in the price of goods and services has slowed significantly since March as COVID-19 brought business activity to a near standstill. Although many services have moved into digital space, there is are slump are closures of traditional manufacturing.

Contrariwise, reduced economic activity has led to nature’s relief, emphasizing on the betterment of SDGs 13, 14, and 15 (Climate Action, Life below Water and Life on Land). Jim Scheer, Head of Data and Analytics at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland asserted “We’re expecting to see about a 25% drop in transport for 2020…” leading to a predicted 12% drop in Carbon Dioxide emissions. We have also seen the revival of many species.  

This pandemic showcases an opportunity for us to act in solidarity and take it as an impetus to achieve the SDGs. It has utterly displayed the weaknesses in our global system. As our world continues to deal with the challenges thrown by the pandemic, we cannot shift our eyes away from the achievement of the SDGs. We must seek to turn the crisis into an opportunity and ramp up necessary actions to achieve our goals. United we stand; divided we fall.

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