In the COVID-19 era, everything must be seen through the lens of the pandemic. This is crucial, and it is immediately important that we make the interventions needed to mitigate the spread of the virus and to save as many people as possible.
However, the powerful solidarity that has emerged during the coronavirus response also holds great lessons for our ability not just to save ourselves from disease but to achieve lasting social and environmental change.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a blueprint for doing just that, and one has to resist the temptation to put these very critical global priorities on the backburner.
Progress has been made since 2015, when the goals were conceptualised. We’ve seen some favourable trends – extreme poverty has declined considerably and immunisations against disease have increased. More people have access to electricity.
Many more countries are taking real action to protect our planet and ensure the sustainability of economic activity. National policies have been developed to manage rapid urbanization.
Notwithstanding this progress, there are many areas that still require urgent action. The environment continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Climate change is a fact of life, along with rising sea levels and ocean acidity. We’ve seen some of the highest atmospheric temperatures on record. Land degradation remains a concern.
We are moving far too slowly in addressing many of these challenges, towards ending human suffering and creating opportunities for everyone on our planet.
Unfortunately, our ability to respond to issues such as extreme poverty by the SDG deadline of 2030 is jeopardised by other geopolitical events.
Violent conflicts, natural disasters, and the current pandemic demand our attention, and again lead the critical matter of human development to fall from the radar. Read more…