Unsustainability of sustainable development goals « Khabarhub
Tuesday, June 18th, 2024

Unsustainability of sustainable development goals



Sustainable development goals’ vision of leaving no one behind targeting to enhance inclusive development and implementation by 2030 is ultimately leaving millions of people behind because of the dire effects of COVID-19.

And this situation may continue beyond the stipulated time. The fact is that implementation of almost all 17 goals and 169 targets is much more afflicted and in shambles than previously imagined. It is argued that achieving SDGs is critical at the current time and to the preparedness for the pandemic and other future shocks.

Moreover, SDGs that emphasize measuring the progress focusing on people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnerships, are already jeopardized.

Poverty increased during the last one and a half years that will affect goal 1. The rapid spread of COIVD-19 across the world impacted the overall economy and the poverty rate increased from 9 percent to 30 percent. It also links to goal 2.

The SOFI (State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World) report jointly produced by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP & WHO found that COVID-19 pushed the world ‘off track’ to achieve zero hunger by the deadline. The report also forecast 840 million people are to be hungry in 2030 if the current trend endures. 

Although every country is accentuating the COVID treatment during this troubled time, overall preventive and curative healthcare systems generally performed are threatened that eventually raises a question for achieving goal 3 – good health and wellbeing.

More than 255 million full-time jobs decreased during this pandemic period. Only in Bangladesh, 2.2 million people lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Almost all resources of this sector are being utilized to grapple coronavirus and its treatment where other areas of treatment are dominantly ignored. Moreover, the use of medical waste has been exponentially increased contributing to environmental, social and economic impact.

It is a surmise that the education sector is the most affected one by the pandemic. All academic institutes are completely shut with a possibility to continue for an umpteenth period of time, which means goal 4 is impossible to achieve.

It is one of the sectors highly affected by the pandemic having severe effects on the overall development. The World Bank forecast about 1 billion kids in developing countries may be out of schools.

The ILO and UNICEF warn that about 9 million children are at risk to be added to child labor. Child labor rises to 160 million, which is the ever-highest number in the world. Child marriage in developing countries is increasing because of the closure of education institutes.

Moreover, there is a huge inter-generational gap because of COVID. Graduate students cannot enter the employment market for both unfinished degrees and employability shock.

A study found that pupils started forgetting what they had learned before the pandemic. So the goal 4, which is related to education, cannot be achieved by 2030. 

Women are the most vulnerable in all disasters that it is not exceptional during COIVD-19. The current situation is widening the gender inequality instead of enhancing gender equality targeted in goal 5. Women, particularly pregnant ones are the most vulnerable during this pandemic. 

Young women have tended to become more likely to be unemployed than men during this pandemic. The infection rate among them is likely to increase because of spreading Delta variant. Moreover, the birth rate is decreasing that will affect the total growth rate leading to human resource scarcity in the future. 

Goal 6 that deals with clean water and sanitation may not be possible to achieve the targets because of other goals. Since poverty is increasing, the healthcare system is hampered, how can people afford clean energy? However, because of the closure of many industries and the reduction of fossil oil use, carbon emission is reportedly reduced. 

It seems it has a positive effect. However, there is a possibility of overuse of fossil oil and increase production in the industrial sector to minimize the economic loss, which may again expedite the carbon emission. 

Only healthcare accessories and medical goods are being produced more than the usual time. Non or limited action for climate has been a boon for the environment. Again, actions can hardly be taken for addressing the issue of life below underwater. 

After the education sector, goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) is the most affected one that adversely affects the total development perspective. Employment is drastically decelerated.

More than 255 million full-time jobs decreased during this pandemic period. Only in Bangladesh, 2.2 million people lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Moreover, people in the unstructured job are in critical crisis. While surviving is the key motto of industries amid this pandemic, the growth of the industry is an almost impossible issue.

Although the pandemic forced to adopt innovation, the total industry and infrastructure are impacted highly and targets are impossible to achieve by the deadline. 

Goal 10 aimed at reducing inequality is troubled as the gap is already widened. It is proved and taken as granted that inequality will increase until the world turns to normalcy and continuation of regular economic activities for a certain period of time.

During this pandemic, affluent people became richer while poor became poorer and it will be continuing. Forbes reports that 660 billionaires are added to a total of 2755 with a record of new 473 and all these billionaires are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion from 2020. 

It is impossible to fulfill the targets of sustainable cities and communities related to goal 11. People are leaving cities to the village because they can’t afford their living in cities.

Communities are already affected by the individual survival strategy and philosophy. Social problems increased. 

People are forced to have less consumption and production as well which means goal 12 may have a positive effect, not because of positive actions taken by the world communities rather because of forced action of staying home and restriction in movement.

Forced action may not be sustainable because it has cyclical effects on other sectors important for people’s livelihood.

Goal 13 probably has gained inarguably positive effects because of closure of industries, restriction of vehicle movement, the shutdown of airplanes and so on.

It is the best time to pursue a truly transformative framework by prioritizing the goals, resetting targets with a deadline and setting the strategic actions to fruitfully implement SDGs and their gradual achievements.

Only healthcare accessories and medical goods are being produced more than the usual time. Non or limited action for climate has been a boon for the environment. Again, actions can hardly be taken for addressing the issue of life below underwater. 

Goal 15 aims at protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting & reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss may also be hard to achieve when survival is the most important issue for most of the developing and least developed countries across the world. 

It is noticed that the pandemic reduced the activities of wars automatically that may help achieve partly the goal 16 relating to peace but not about justice and strong institutions. 

The partnership for the goals, particularly for some is worth mentionable during the pandemic, especially in terms of inoculation, although vaccine nationalism rose and vaccines are still with the developed nations.

As every issue concerning socio-economic development is inextricably dependent on the effects of coronavirus currently or near future, it can easily be panned out that most of the SDGs will not be sustainable as long as the virus will stay in the universe. Hence, the UN should redesign the goals and revise the targets to fit the time challenged by COVID-19.

It is the best time to pursue a truly transformative framework by prioritizing the goals, resetting targets with a deadline and setting the strategic actions to fruitfully implement SDGs and their gradual achievements.

The author is a faculty member at Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre- the apex-training institute for the civil servant, Savar, Dhaka.

Publish Date : 03 September 2021 08:02 AM

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