By Nuru Ahmed
The novel coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic will have severe negative impacts on most of the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a report that has tracked the progress of 166 countries since 2015.
There has been 14,739,450 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 610,776 deaths as on July 21, 2020. The subsequent socio-economic crisis has affected all countries, including high-income ones in Europe and North America.
More than a third of the world’s population was under lockdown in the middle of April this year. As a result, many economic activities were shut down, leading to massive losses to the economy, loss of jobs and with maximum impact on vulnerable groups.
The report said COVID-19 has negatively affected several goals including: SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities).
At the same time, the pandemic brought “immediate relief” in areas related to:SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action),SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land).
However, these gains will be short-term and will be reduced leading to negative overall impacts on ecosystems, the report said.
Since 2015, the world has seen the most rapid progress towards SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities, the report said.
Most of countries faced major challenges on SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDGs 12–15 on climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
Two African countries; Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, Cambodia from Asia progressed the most since 2015, according to the country-level index in the report.
Venezuela, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo regressed most, due to conflicts and other economic and social reasons.
India ranked at 117, with a score of 61.9 out of 100. It ranked below two South Asian nations Pakistan and Afghanistan.
India faces major challenges in 10 of the 17 SDGs which include; zero hunger, good health, gender inequality among others. There are significant challenges in another three SDGs — no poverty (SDG 1), Life below water (SDG 14) and Life on land (SDG 15).
The health, economic and social crises triggered by COVID-19 called for increased international collaboration and solidarity to support the most vulnerable countries, the report said.
Countries can cooperate on dissemination of best practices rapidly, addressing hunger hotspots, ensuring social protection and promoting new drugs and vaccines, the report said.