The SDGs Report 2021 Shows COVID-19’s Impact on Poverty Levels Across the Globe

During the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2021, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) presented the report on the pandemic’s effects on the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

In 2015, Heads of State and Government, and High Representatives convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to sign the UN resolution on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The implementation of the Agenda was going to be concretised in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 interconnected global goals each one pertaining to one broad area needed to face the new millennium’s challenges and build a better future. The SDGs were made more actionable through the development of specific targets and indicators. Through these tools, UN agencies, governments and local actors can better create strategies, implementation plans and monitor advancement on the 2030 Agenda. The HLPF is the annual occasion to report on the developments at global, national and local level, to discuss challenges and opportunities and to revise strategies.

2020 and 2021 mark a decisive change for the world. The global COVID-19 pandemic hit every continent, shone a light on every social, political and economic failure and made a need to change our way of living and developing as societies broadly undeniable. Indeed, beyond its health implications, the pandemic has had catastrophic effects on the world’s population. Inequalities and poverty are rising exponentially, the health systems in many regions of the world have completely collapsed, and protecting and ensuring inclusion and equality for children, women and older people is more challenging than ever. Conducted by UN DESA in collaboration with more than 50 international agencies, the SDGs Report 2021 uses data and estimates to calculate the impacts of the pandemic and the ensuing crisis on the areas concerning the SDGs. It places each SDG in the context of the crisis and gives a comprehensive vision of the challenges ahead. Reports on advancements towards SDG 11 target on more “Sustainable Cities and Communities” showed for example that only half of the world’s urban population has convenient access to public transport. In fact, the pandemic also highlighted the importance of acting at local level as cities have been the biggest bearers of COVID-19’s effects. They can therefore best contribute to building more resilient and impactful crisis resolution, recovery and long-term development.

Besides its negative impacts, the pandemic also holds the potential to create necessary social, political and economic change to build strategies and action towards sustainability and inclusion. Support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs is more crucial than ever to build on acquired knowledge, adapt to changing contexts and recover from the crisis.

To learn more about report and how COVID-19 influenced strategies to reach the SDGs from local level up in 2020 and 2021, click here.