Sustainable Development Goals must be central to UK government’s road map to recovery post Covid-19 if we are to ‘build back better’, says new report
The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development is calling on the UK government to use the Sustainable Development Goals as part of a ‘road-map to recovery’ after a new report finds that Covid-19 has put gains made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at risk.
The UK played a critical role in developing the historical Sustainable Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015. The 17 goals, which include zero hunger and good health and well-being for all, aim to end poverty, inequality and injustice and protect the planet by 2030.
The report finds that Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the world’s poorest people, preventing access to education for children and exposing weaknesses in health systems in poor countries.
Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell, Co-Chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development said:
“The chaos of the pandemic risks the lives of millions of children globally and threatens to reverse years of progress made on immunization, education and inequality, with those in the margins likely to suffer the most. Urgent action must be taken by the Government to address the consequences of such a devastating crisis, but we must also Build Back Better. The Global Goals offer a ready-made road map for a recovery that is sustainable and more likely to be resilient against future shocks, whether that might be a pandemic, an economic crash or extreme weather. The UK government should put the SDGs at the centre of their agenda at home and abroad."
Up to half a billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of Covid-19. The World Bank expects the first increase in extreme poverty since 1990, with between 40-46 million people estimated to fall back into extreme poverty, surviving on less than £1.50 a day. Before Covid-19, more than half the world’s population did not have access to all essential health services. 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.
Children are set to be hit hardest as they miss out on routine vaccinations and face higher risks of stunted growth due to poor nutrition, and increased child mortality due to poor access to health care. At the peak of the outbreak in April 2020, 91 per cent of the world’s children were forced out of school to prevent the virus from spreading. These children are now at risk of falling behind in their education.
Theo Clarke, MP for Stafford and Co-Chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development said:
“As the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, this timely report demonstrates how the sustainable development goals can be used as part of a roadmap to recovery in order to help each and every country build back better.”
The report concludes that the Sustainable Development Goals should be considered as part of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) strategy. The strategy is set to be unveiled once the government concludes its recently launched Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development. The Integrated Review intends to examine the UK’s objectives abroad and establish the country as a “problem-solving and burden-sharing nation”.
By using the framework of the SDGs, the FCDO will be better able to build stronger and more resilient economies and societies both in the UK and around the world which will, in turn, ensure that societies are better able to deal with future economic, climate and health shocks.