July 27, 2020

What We´re Reading: Reset Sustainable Development Goals for a pandemic world

Reset Sustainable Development Goals for a pandemic world: COVID-19 is exposing the fragility of the goals adopted by the United Nations


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) depend on two big assumptions: sustained economic growth and globalization. However, the ongoing COVID-19 is demonstrating that our ability to meet the current SDGs is not resilient to global stressors such as global pandemics, extinctions and the continued degradation of the ecosystems on which all life depends: currently about two-thirds of the SDGs are unlikely to be met by 2030. 

Meanwhile, the urgency of meeting these goals has never been more evident: 30 (18%) of the targets would help to reduce the likelihood of another global pandemic. Some examples target health directly, while others relate to wildlife conservation, such as fighting illegal animal trafficking. Furthermore, achieving universal health coverage, bolstering the health workforce and strengthening the capacity of early-warning systems for global health risks, will slow the cascading impacts of COVID-19 in low-income nations. 

With the postponing of large UN conventions, such as the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference and the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the UN’s High-level Political Forum will have more time to work out how and when to update the SDGs. And when re-thinking how to do this, leaders should take into account the lessons learned from COVID-19 on how they can be more resilient.

What to do?

The article suggests three broad areas, such as prioritizing win-wins, in which cash-strapped governments need to focus on a few broad strategic goals; decouple development and growth; and overhauling funding. For more details, please see the full article.

EcoAgriculture Partners CEO Sara Scherr along with Sara Farley of the Rockefeller Foundation discuss their ideas for building more resilient post-COVID integrated food systems.: ‘How to reimagine our food systems for a post-COVID world – taking a landscape perspective’.

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