UN Report: How COVID-19 affects the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals vs. Coronavirus

The current global health crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) challenges countries and regions all around the world at all levels of society and on a for a long time unprecedented scale. In the face of such a crisis, the need for global cooperation, solidarity and transparency in opposition to economic and political self-interest, mutual recrimination and censorship is becoming apparent. The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development expresses precisely this belief, that global challenges can only be solved together. But how does the current crisis affect the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are at the centre of the Agenda 2030? A current UN report on the Corona crisis examines this and other questions.


In their report "Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economoics impacts of COVID-19", published in March 2020, the United Nations (UN) call not only for the fastest possible limitation of the spread of the virus, but also for tackling the far-reaching social and economic dimensions of this crisis.

The report concludes with a call to meet the global challenges in the context of the coronavirus in a spirit of solidarity as well as in an innovative, creative and thoughtful way for the common good (p. 23):

With the right actions, the COVID-19 pandemic can mark the rebirthing of society as we know it today to one where we protect present and future generations. It is the greatest test that we have faced since the formation of the United Nations, one that requires all actors -governments, academia, businesses, employers and workers’ organizations, civil society organizations, communities and individuals- to act in solidarity in new, creative, and deliberate ways for the common good and based on the core United Nations values that we uphold for humanity.

In addition to detailed analyses and recommendations for action, the report outlines the effects of the crisis on individual SDGs (p. 12).


Sustainable Development Goals

  1. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals reflect the interrelated ecological, social and economic aspects of sustainable global development. They are at the heart of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and illustrate the interrelationships between the goals under the five core messages "people, prosperity, planet, partnership and peace (5Ps)".

Regarding SDG 5 (Gender Equality), for example, the report shows the extent to which women can be more strongly affected by the crisis. A large part of the workforce in the social and health sector is female, which is why they are more often exposed to the virus in the context of their work. Furthermore, women are particularly affected by observed increases in domestic violence. The economic successes already achieved by female workers and entrepreneurs are also at risk, given the general economic consequences of the Corona crisis.

To give another example, the effects on Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) as pointed out by the UN show that the crisis is affecting the poorer population disproportionately. For example, people living in slums are particularly at risk due to high population density, poor hygiene conditions and inadequate health care.

The figure also shows the links between the effects on different targets. For example, SDG 10 (Reduced Inequality), which aims to reduce inequality within and between states, is negatively influenced by the above-mentioned impacts on goals 5 and 11 as well as 4 (Quality Education) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).


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