COVID-19: Sustainable Development Goals that help future-proof global recovery
The pandemic has exposed that gains made to address poverty, hunger, good health and well-being may face serious setbacks, unless the global community also urgently addresses the global environmental threats that have similar capacity to gravely undermine the systems that enable humanity and the planet to survive and thrive.
“The global coronavirus pandemic, which has already caused unimaginable devastation and hardship, has brought our way of life to an almost complete halt. The outbreak will have profound and lasting economic and social consequences in every corner of the globe,” says United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen.
Future-proofing sustainable recovery and sustainable development is only possible when sound environmental responses, plans and policies are given the importance they deserve.
Climate Action (Goal 13)
The climate crisis may be seen as a slower moving crisis than the speed of this global pandemic, but it’s the long-term effects are likely to be far more threatening. Runaway global warming is something we do not have the science, technology or funding to solve. Without additional commitments to decarbonisation, the planet is on track for a 3.2 degree global temperature rise and beyond. This is linked to an increased likelihood of pandemics, extreme weather events, droughts, flooding and widespread destabilisation of global food, economic and security systems. Unchecked global warming will undo gains to address almost every sustainable development goal. It will undo economic recovery.
Life on Land (Goal 15)
Diseases passed from animals to humans, zoonoses such as COVID-19, will continue to rise, as the world continues to see unprecedented destruction of wild habitats by human activity. Degraded habitats may encourage more direct animal-human interaction, rapid evolutionary processes and diversification of diseases, as pathogens spread easily to livestock and humans.
Life below water (Goal 14)
The ecosystems that sustain and protect life are just as vital below water as they are on land. The decline and degradation of natural marine, coastal and freshwater ecosystems, and their biodiversity, combined with increasing ocean warming, ocean acidification and widespread pollution, presents a crisis of just as serious concern.
Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12)
Unsustainable production and consumption is perpetuated by brown financing, investments and lifestyle choices. Such practices have led to a depletion of natural resources, disruption of ecosystems, resource and carbon-intensive economies and infrastructures, as well as environmental health issues and diseases.