A new flagship UN report indicates countries must take ‘critical’ steps on the road out of the COVID19 pandemic, during the next 18 months.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, launched on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York, shows the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the 2030 Agenda, as the landmark annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) officially got underway.
The world was not on track to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before COVID-19 struck, and now the challenge has been magnified many times over,
In addition to the almost four million deaths due to the coronavirus, between 119-124 million people were pushed back into poverty and chronic hunger, and the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs was lost, the report indicates.
“The pandemic has halted or reversed years, or even decades of development progress. Global extreme poverty rose for the first time since 1998”, said UN Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, during the launch.
Moreover, disruptions to essential health services have threatened years of progress in improving maternal and child health, increasing immunization coverage, and reducing communicable and non-communicable diseases. Around 90% of countries are still reporting one or more significant disruptions to essential health services.
The report also indicates that the pandemic has exposed and intensified inequalities within and between countries.
As of 17 June, around 68 vaccine shots were administered for every 100 people in Europe and Northern America – compared with fewer than two, in sub-Saharan Africa.
Millions of children risk never returning to school; while rising numbers have been forced into child marriage and child labour. With trillions of tourist dollars lost during the pandemic shutdowns, the collapse of international tourism has disproportionally impacted struggling Small Island Developing States.
“The poorest and most vulnerable continue to be at greater risk of becoming infected by the virus and have borne the brunt of the economic fallout”, highlighted Mr. Liu.
While economic recovery is underway, led by China and the United States, in many other countries, economic growth is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before 2022 or 2023.