COVID-19 has awfully affected our day-to-day life, hampered businesses, and disrupted the world trade and movements.  

Many believe that many preventive measures taken at the initial stage of the disease have helped to control the spread of the virus.  

But the economies of almost all the countries have badly suffered. In this regard, few lines from the ‘Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021’ published by the United Nations are presented.  

It has highlighted the impacts of COVID-19 on SDG implementation and identifies areas that require urgent and coordinated action.  

It is pertinent to mention that the report is prepared annually by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) using data and estimates in the Global SDG Indicators Database. 

Another important point may be mentioned here while forwarding in the report António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, has mentioned that the global extreme poverty rate increased for the first time in 20 years.  

The data presented by him shows that 119 to 124 million people were pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020, and an additional 101 million children have fallen below the minimum reading proficiency level.  

This data really presents a grievous picture for the world’s people. The important findings as observed from the report are the following: 

SDG 1: The global poverty rate is projected to be 7 percent in 2030, which would mean the target on eradicating poverty will be missed; 

SDG 2: On child malnutrition, 22 percent of children under 5 are stunted, 6.7 percent suffer from wasting, and 5.7 percent are overweight;  

SDG 3: The pandemic has halted or reversed progress in health and shortened life expectancy; 

SDG 4: 9 percent of children in grades 1-8 fell below minimum reading proficiency levels in 2020; 

SDG 5: On women’s equal participation in decision making, only 25.6 percent of national parliamentarians are women, 36.3 percent of local government representatives are women, and 28.2 percent of managerial positions are occupied by women;  

SDG 6: 2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water and 3.6 billion people lack safely managed sanitation; 

SDG 7: 2.6 billion people use dangerous and inefficient cooking systems; 

SDG 8: The pandemic led to the loss of the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs; 

SDG 9: The manufacture of medium- and high-tech products fuelled the economic recovery in late 2020; 

SDG 10: In 2020, for every 100,000 persons, 311 are refugees; 

SDG 11: Only half of the world’s urban population has convenient access to public transport (defined as residing within 500 M walking distance of a bus stop/low-capacity transport system and 1000 M of a railway or ferry terminal; 

SDG 12: The global “material footprint” increased by 70 percent between 2000 and 2017; 

SDG 13: In 202, the global average temperature was at 1.2o C above the pre-industrial baseline; 

SDG 14: Dead zones (areas of water that lack sufficient oxygen to support marine life) have risen from 400 in 2008 to 700 in 2019; 

SDG 15: The world has lost 100 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2020); 

SDG 16: Child labour rose to 160 million in 2020, which indicates the first increase in two decades; 

SDG 17: Nearly half of the global population (3.7 billion people) are still not online. 

It is evident from the above that unfortunately the global poverty rate will increase indicating in absolute terms also the number of persons will increase. 

The other points are increase in malnutrition, increase in child labour, and loss of forest areas which may be because forest resources have been exploited for earning money.  

Some might have done it to earn and some probably as greed to become ‘rich’. 

Dr Shankar Chatterjee is a former Professor & Head (CPME), NIRD & PR, Hyderabad   

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