This year, the first of the new decade, was meant to be the start of something big. As 2020 started, we tipped into the ‘decade of delivery’ to eliminate extreme poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. It also marked an unexpected era as a COVID-19 hit world has been grappling with the pandemic and its devastating aftershocks ever since. But instead of sidelining the Goals, COVID-19 has made the SDGs even more relevant.
The SDGs offer us an integrated perspective to combat this crisis. The 2030 Agenda has a holistic framework that brings the global economic, environmental and development agendas together for the first time. Because they are so broad and complex, the SDGs can help us understand and respond to the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19.
If there was any doubt that our world faces common challenges, this pandemic should categorically put that to rest. The crisis has only re-enforced the interdependence in our connected world. It has highlighted the urgent need for global action to meet people’s basic needs, to save our planet and to build a fairer and resilient world. We face common, global challenges that we must solve through common, global solutions.
The “pandemic pause” is a blessing in disguise. It gives all the stakeholders a chance to undertake a thorough review of where we stand as well as what needs to change. So COVID-19 should not be an excuse to delay action, but rather reason to accelerate action on the SDGs.
Preliminary projections from the UN system indicate that COVID-19 could lead to the first increase in global extreme poverty in over 20 years, since the Asian financial crisis of 1981. It could push 40 to 60 million people into extreme poverty and could double the incidence of food insecurity in the world.
The challenge for improving people’s lives after this crisis will be greater than ever, but the SDGs will help guide the path forward to ease suffering.
“We can’t run a business on a dead planet,”
Now and in the future, successful businesses will be those that:
This is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. Business simply cannot thrive in a world of poverty, inequality, unrest and environmental stress.
Companies are still falling short when it comes to embedding the Sustainable Development Goals in their business but there is an opportunity to accelerate action in the wake of COVID-19
“Where once ‘do no harm’ was a common approach for the business community, today we are arriving at a new landscape of elevated expectations and responsibilities, “Now more than ever, as big decisions are made about our future, companies need to address environmental, social and governance risks holistically and move beyond business-as-usual,” he added. “I challenge all of you to take more ambitious and comprehensive action across your operations and value chains.”