COVID rolls back global achievements in SDGs-United Nations


Charles Abani, the UN Resident Coordinator has noted that before COVID-19, global achievements of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs had been uneven.

“The world was off-track to ending poverty by 2030; food insecurity was already on the rise; full gender equality remained unreached despite progress; and about two billion people were working in the informal sector, most of them in developing economies without access to social protections and adequate health care services.”

At the same time, he further stated, global growth was subdued from the effects of geopolitical tensions, growing inequalities, trade disputes, climate change, and conflicts.

“Worst of all, many developing countries were already saddled with chronic fiscal deficits and high levels of public debt.”

The UN Resident Coordinator made these remarks at the 2020 Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) on Monday, themed ‘Resetting the Economy beyond COVID-19; Building Economic Resilience and Self-Sufficiency.

Mr. Abani said ‘Building back better,for economic resilience’ has now become a catchphrase left by the COVID pandemic, and that since the pandemic broke out the United Nations has been emphasising the need to approach socioeconomic responses and recovery interventions with enhanced partnerships, multi-stakeholder engagements and dialogues, improved regional cooperation and partnerships to shape response better, and making economies resilient to any future shocks of such magnitude.

The UN official said the SDGs’ integrated nature makes it possible to align every form of country-specific development policy objective to the goals. Goal 17 emphasises ‘partnerships for the SDGs -strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development.

Fortunately, he added, Ghana has established strong coordination and leadership structures, and created impetus for partnerships in financing the SDGs. The SDGs have been mainstreamed in national and district medium-term development plans and the SDGs Delivery Fund has been created, as well as the Green Fund, the Accra SDG Investment Fair and many others.

He noted that the pandemic has inflicted unprecedented health, economic and social crises on the globe, making achievement of the SDGs more challenging and erasing the modest progress made in recent years.

“Investors have withdrawn more than US$700-billion from emerging and developing markets, further increasing the SDG financing gap and pushing the global economy into repurposing funds to strengthen health systems and protect lives.”

The UN Resident Coordinator said global growth is projected to contract by 4.4%, and that of sub-Saharan Africa by 3%. Between 71 million and 100 million people are estimated to be pushed into extreme poverty, and an additional 265 million people could face acute food shortages.

“About   400 million jobs worldwide were lost in the second quarter of 2020 relative to the second-quarter in 2019. School closures kept 90% of students (1.47 billion) out of school, and caused 370 million children to miss out on school meals.”

Rough calculations indicate that Ghana needs US$4.4billion to close its post-COVID-19 financing gap and finance its economic response and recovery programme – the COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) programme.

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