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We can ‘Build Back Better’ using the Sustainable Development Goals as a ‘ready-made’ roadmap to recovery
Theo Clarke MP and Lord McConnell
The Sustainable Development Goals offer us a way of building more resilient and sustainable economies and healthier societies, ensuring that nations are better able to deal with future economic, climate and health shocks.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on people's lives. Basic necessities such as healthcare, education and livelihoods have been thrown into chaos. Up to half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of Covid-19. Around the world, children have been forced out of school and health care has been brought to its knees.
The UK government has taken action to deal with the immediate threat and the race for a vaccine continues, but what will the world look like post Covid-19? The UK has an important chance to 'Build Back Better', and the Sustainable Development Goals offer a ready-made road map to help the government do this.
5 years ago, the UK played a critical role in developing these goals which were agreed by world leaders to help every woman, man and child out of extreme poverty, and help build healthier, sustainable and just societies by 2030.
A report published today by the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development recommends putting the SDGs at the heart of the recovery to protect the years of progress made on immunisation, children's education and inequality, all of which now is in decline.
The World Bank expects the first increase in extreme poverty since 1990, with between 40-46 million more people surviving on less than £1.50 a day. Estimates now suggest that the Covid-19 outbreak will result in an increase in HIV, TB and malaria-related deaths over the next five years, as up to 80m children may lose out on routine vaccines.
And decades of progress on school attendance is under threat. In April 2020, 91 per cent of the world’s children were forced out of the classroom to prevent the virus from spreading and these children are now at risk of falling behind in their education.
Though pollution levels have dropped, the global momentum around tackling climate change has slowed and the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to increase conflict as tensions rise and inequalities increase.
The Sustainable Development Goals offer us a way of building more resilient and sustainable economies and healthier societies, ensuring that nations everywhere are better able to deal with future economic, climate and health shocks.
Today's report emphasizes the need to put the SDGs at the heart of the UK Government’s response, at home and abroad.
To ensure no one is left behind, any Covid-19 vaccine must be readily available to everyone, particularly the world’s poorest people. Economic recovery must explicitly help grow economies and create jobs in the poorest countries, and we must urgently increase funding for education to help those children who have fallen behind to catch-up.
The UK government should consider using its influence abroad to ensure countries work together to deliver the SDGs. The impacts of Covid-19 undoubtedly present challenges to delivering the SDGs, but we can also see an opportunity to build back better using the SDGs as a ‘ready-made’ roadmap to recovery.