The SDGs in the face of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic started at the dawn of the Decade of Action, when the Sustainable Development Goals were finally gaining momentum & traction. Now, could this be a march towards achieving the SDGs, or will it erase years of progress and make the world’s vision for 2030 unattainable?    

While we don’t have a definite answer now, we can see its effect and the way the world is adapting. In this article, we’ll help you become an agent of sustainability and build a resilient community to face COVID-19. 

The Effect of the COVID-19 Outbreak on the SDGs

The pandemic hit humanity in different aspects and exposed radical weaknesses in our global system.  It is leaving deep social and economic impact on the vulnerable segments of society. Read more on the socio-economic effects of the pandemic in this United Nations report.   

With consequences on almost all the 17 SDGs; increasing poverty, hunger, and inequalities; reducing the quality of life in vulnerable groups, and a rise in unemployment. The novel corona-virus proved that poverty, fragile health systems, illiteracy, and the absence of global cooperation can aggravate any crisis.   

The COVID-19 Response Calibrated to the SDGs

Despite the effects of the pandemic on the SDGs, the Goals should be at the center of the world’s response. They provide a framework for sustainable societies and governments – achieving them will put us on a firm path to deal with global health risks. For instance, Goal 3 will strengthen the world’s health systems capacity and management.    

Our progress and commitment to the goals shouldn’t be comprised. In fact the COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for global cooperation for the goals after the crisis. The priority now is to save lives at all costs and continue building a sustainable world for everyone.   

We have to Act Now

Responding to the crisis shouldn’t be limited to organizations and governments only.  In this fight, we need to utilize the world’s most powerful resource – the people. Civil societies and individuals have a vital role. It is in your hands, as an individual, to take informed decisions and make this Decade of Action count.

If you’re not in the frontline helping our health workers combat the virus, you still have a role as a part of your community. During this health crisis, support Goal 3 and promote a healthy lifestyle within your household. Reduce the spread of the virus and follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines. Practice physical distancing and avoid crowded areas to protect yourself and your family. Seek medical attention as soon as you notice COVID-19 symptoms.

Be proactive and advocate for the SDGs from home. Help to achieve Goal 8 and Goal 9 by supporting local businesses in your community. Your daily consumption of goods & services is always an opportunity to practice the essence of the goals. Shop wisely and don’t panic-buy for “Responsible Consumption”. Support Goal 1 and Goal 2 by donating to reliable charities and support families affected by the pandemic. Contribute to Goal 4 by offering online sessions to students affected by the shutdown of schools. 

Be there for the elderly and most vulnerable people in your community; help them out, and pick up their groceries and medicine. Raise funds to supply local health workers with Personal Protective Equipment. Avoid wasting water, reduce your plastic use, and don’t forget the planet.   

Make sure that you also encourage proactivity by spreading awareness, online and offline, about the SDGs. Inform everyone about their role in responding to the pandemic and promoting the Global Goals.  

COVID-19 presents an opportunity and a lesson for us to act in solidarity. Overcoming the situation might seem challenging now, but we are in this together and we must leave no one behind. Everyone has a responsibility and a role, so make sure you understand the impact of your actions!   

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About the Author

Mena Mohamed has been actively involved in the local and international MUN community for more than 7 years. Currently she is the Chief of Staff of Catalysts For Change MUN, and a United Nations SDGs Advocate with the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Egypt. She is very passionate about MUN and believes that it is a powerful tool in empowering youth. You can connect with Mena on Linkedin.