Editorial : Urgency applied to containing COVID-19 must also be applied to achieving SDGs

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President of the Republic of Ghana and Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs  and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs

President Nana Addo Dankwa AKUFO-ADDO and Erna SOLBERG, the Norwegian Prime Minister, both Co-chairs of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs, have penned down how COVID-19 is not only wreaking havoc to the global community, but also, how it is equally affecting the attainment of the United Nations Development Goals (SDGs).

The eminent SDG advocates observed that the International Monetary Fund estimates that our world has entered into a recession, and while the full economic impact of the crisis is difficult to predict, the costs of the pandemic will no doubt be astronomical, with preliminary estimates placing it at a whopping US$2 trillion.

“Sadly, this ferocious, sudden on-set pandemic has come at a time when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were getting good traction and a significant number of countries were making good progress in their implementation”.

However, both leaders believe that although the world is seized with containing the spread of the virus and addressing its negative and debilitating impacts, the response to the pandemic cannot be de-linked from actions on the SDGs.

Rather, President Akufo-Addo and Prime Minister Solberg are of the conviction that achieving the SDGs will put the world on a solid foundation, and a firm path to dealing with global health risks and emerging infectious diseases.

“Achieving SDGs Goal 3 will mean strengthening the capacity of countries for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks”.

There is little doubt that the pandemic has manifestly exposed the crisis in global health systems. It is severely undermining prospects for achieving global health by 2030.

“Crucially, in many parts of the world, the pandemic and its effects are being exacerbated by the crisis in delivering on clean water and sanitation targets (SDG Goal 6), weak economic growth and the absence of decent work (SDGs Goal 8), pervasive inequalities (SDGs Goal 10), and above all, a crisis in poverty (SDGs Goal 1) and food security (Goal 2). The World Bank estimates that the crisis will push some 11 million people into poverty”.

As our world strives to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic, we ultimately must seek to turn the crisis into an opportunity and ramp up actions necessary to achieve the SDGs, the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group Advocates for the SDGs have stated.

“The spirit of solidarity, quick and robust action to defeat the virus that we are witnessing must be brought to bear on the implementation of the Goals”.

If the urgency that the world is witnessing to contain the virus is brought to bear in achieving the UN developmental goals, we believe far more progress would have been achieved in that regard.


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