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The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Published 4 October 2021 in Facts and figures

As 2022 marks the 7th year of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, how is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting their achievement? Answer in 17 facts and figures.

In 2015, the United nations Member states committed collectively to the 2030 Agenda, a sustainable development framework for the planet, populations, prosperity, peace, and partnerships. The 17 Sustainable development goals (SDGs), key pillars of the 2030 Agenda, embody the outcomes to be achieved worldwide by 2030: eradicating poverty and inequalities, achieving economic prosperity, preserving the planet, and promoting peace.

Between 2015 and 2020, the international community adopted a series of measures that contribute to progress towards the 17 SDGs and to tackle existing injustices. For example, between 2015 and early 2020, the number of people living in extreme poverty had dropped by 96 million, the number of out-of-school children by 5 million, and nearly 400 million more people had access to electricity.

But in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed, and more often than not reversed, hard-won progress toward the 17 SDGs. Perhaps its most chilling consequence is in the area of global health (SDG 3), having already caused the deaths of 4.7 million people by September 2021. But it has cascading consequences across all the SDGs.

The global economic downturn has resulted in the loss of 255 million jobs, and has severely affected the 1.6 billion people working in the informal economy (SDG 8), without social security (SDG 1) or health coverage (SDG 3). The resulting increase in global poverty (SDG 1) is unprecedented. It has caused an increase in hunger (SDG 2), child labor (SDG 16), and gender inequality (SDG 5).

And while the decrease in human activity has been a moment of respite for threatened plant and animal species (SDGs 14 and 15) and for climate change (SDG 13), it has been too short-lived to have a positive impact on ecosystems.

These are the conclusions of our analysis, a compilation of 17 reports from UN agencies, other international organizations, non-governmental organizations and research centers.

The figures below are also a reminder of the extent to which the Sustainable Development Goals provide a relevant response to the major contemporary challenges, provided that concerted multi stakeholder action is taken.

The achievement of each of the 17 SDGs has been compromised. These 17 facts and figures, which can be shared on social media, are a powerful reminder of this.

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