Published on 24 August 2020


Hunger, poverty, decent work: the covid-19 crisis slows progress towards sustainable development goals

Progress on several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has slowed, or even regressed, due to the COVID-19 crisis. SDGs on health, hunger, decent work, and poverty are among those most affected by the pandemic. In hopes of reversing this trend, the UN calls for collaboration and international solidarity by devoting 10% of GDP to achieving the SDGs.

Covid et ODD RAPPORT onu
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, progress on several Sustainable Development Goals has slowed or even regressed.

There are 10 years left to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, several recent reports by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) warn that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the progress made over the past five years. “The outbreak of coronavirus disease has had devastating effects on people's lives and well-being” and “increased global economic risks that could have negative consequences for the implementation of the SDGs”, stresses the ECOSOC.

As such, SDGs on health, hunger, and poverty are particularly impacted.  While the pace of global poverty reduction was already slowing, the current pandemic is expected to push 40 to 60 million people into extreme poverty and “nullify years of progress”, according to the ECOSOC. By 2020, global poverty will increase for the first time in more than 20 years.

100 million more people face hunger

Findings are equally alarming in the fight against hunger. The number of people suffering from severe food insecurity has steadily increased since 2015, and the pandemic is worsening the situation. By the end of the year, 83 to 130 million more people will join the 690 million people currently impacted by hunger. Health is no better off; the pandemic is hitting healthcare systems around the world. Besides greater investments, this crisis shows that better measures and reporting are needed to track prevention programs, healthcare system preparedness, and resilience to pandemics”, highlights the SDSN.

COVID-19 has plunged the world into a deep recession: the number of hours worked in the second quarter of 2020 is expected to decline by more than 10%, which is equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs. The most vulnerable — precarious workers, migrants, self-employed, and informal sector workers — are the most affected. 

10% of global GDP to save the SDGs

“What began as a health crisis quickly turned into the worst human and economic crisis of our time. The most vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected”, further deepening inequalities within and across countries, warns UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Without action to curb these inequalities, the SDSN warns that new international conflicts could emerge.

The United Nations affirms that the international solidarity and cooperation embodied in SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals is, therefore, more essential than ever. It calls for “multilateral, coordinated and comprehensive intervention, amounting to at least 10% of global GDP”. It is for this reason that on November 12th, 2020, France will host a summit to mobilize the 450 public development banks around COVID-19, the fight against climate change, and the SDGs.

Béatrice Héraud

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