Coronavirus pandemic challenges development goals

A recent follow-up report stresses that the shared goals presented in the 2030 Agenda are an important tool when the world is addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Sustainable development is the theme of an ongoing high-level UN meeting.

In 2015, the countries of the world jointly agreed on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to take the economic, social and ecological development of the world on a sustainable track by 2030.   

Since then, the most progress has been made in the goals relating to poverty eradication; sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure; and sustainable cities and communities.   The percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally decreased from 10 per cent in 2015 to 8.6 per cent in 2018.

In terms of regions, the most progress in the past five years has been made by East and South Asian countries. Examples of individual countries that have progressed the most include Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Cambodia. 

In the SDG Index Rank, Finland was third among the 193 United Nations Member States, preceded by Sweden and Denmark. So far, Finland has reached the goals that are related to the eradication of poverty, provision of quality education, clean water and energy, as well as peace and the rule of law. 

These results are presented in the fifth Sustainable Development Report, which is an annual assessment of progress made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The report prepared by Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Sustainable Development Solutions network reviews different countries' progress in how they have attained the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.  

Cooperation is key

The goals that are related to the sustainable development of the environment, including climate change and biodiversity, pose particularly great challenges globally.  There is large variation in how countries have reached the goals related to sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure. Progress in efforts to end hunger was slow even before the coronavirus outbreak.

The effects of the pandemic do not show in the overall picture painted by the 2030 report, but estimates may be concluded based on indicators measuring progress by individual countries. All countries of the world suffer from the pandemic’s health effects, and the pandemic has proved that countries need to be prepared for global health risks. The economic effects show in high unemployment rates and in the growth of poverty. Groups that are already in a vulnerable position suffer the most. The report emphasises that solidarity and partnerships are critical in efforts to address and prevent global health, economic and humanitarian crises. 

The Sustainable Development Report 2020 was published on 30 June, before the start of the High-Level Political Forum of the UN. This year, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)(Link to another website.) is held virtually on 7–16 July. 

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Sustainable Development Report 2020(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window)