How Sustainable Development Goals Can Help Future Recovery – Oyo SDG Boss
The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly caused unbearable devastation and hardship, which has affected peoples’ lifestyle and has made people adjust to a new way of life.
The outbreak will have profound and lasting economic and social consequences in every corner of the globe, “says United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director.”
The pandemic has exposed that gains made to address Poverty, Hunger, Good Health and Well-being may face serious setbacks, unless the Global Community also urgently addresses the global environmental threats that have similar capacity to gravely undermine the systems that enable humanity and the planet to survive and thrive.
Futures proofing sustainable recovery and sustainable development can only be made possible when sound environmental responses, plans and policies are given the importance they deserve. As UNEP joins the wider international community by mobilizing immediate emergency health, economic and security responses, the four SDGs that will be vital for a truly sustainable recovery.
Climate Action (Goal 13)
The climate crisis may be seen as a slower moving crisis than the speed of this global pandemic, but it’s the long-term effects are likely to be far more threatening. Runaway global warming is something we do not have the science, technology or funding to solve. Without additional commitments to decarbonization, the planet is on track for a 3.2 degree global temperature rise and beyond. This is linked to an increased likelihood of pandemics, extreme weather events, droughts, flooding and widespread destabilization of global food, economic and security systems. Unchecked global warming will undo gains to address almost every sustainable development goal. It will undo economic recovery.
The work focuses on sectors critical to building back a strong economy: energy transition, buildings and construction, food systems, waste, and mobility, enabling the world to establish the next generation of sustainable and productive infrastructure.
It includes efforts to make trade more climate resilient and sustainable and build on lessons learned from the policies of the Global Green New Deal. UNEP is also continuing to support ongoing country actions on climate change, repurposing energy, cooling, nature-based solutions and recovery investments to align with the Paris Agreement, in collaboration with UNDP and other partners to ensure recovery plans reduce future risks from climate and nature breakdown.
Life on Land (Goal 15)
Diseases passed from animals to humans, zoonoses such as COVID-19, will continue to rise, as the world continues to see unprecedented destruction of wild habitats by human activity. Degraded habitats may encourage more direct animal-human interaction, rapid evolutionary processes and diversification of diseases, as pathogens spread easily to livestock and humans.
To prevent further pandemic outbreaks both global destruction of the natural habitats for unsustainable farming, mining and housing must move to sustainable pathways. It is vital that governments, the private sector and civil society build back better by working with, not against the environment in order to manage and create resilience to future systemic threats.
The UNEP in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention of the Biological Diversity is assisting UN/SDGs/ Government to develop and/or strengthen their biosafety and biosecurity policy and regulatory measures in order to detect, prevent, control and manage zoonotic pathogens. UNEP remains committed to supporting countries to ensure ambitious outcomes at the Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) which is now expected to take place in 2021.
Life below water (Goal 14)
The ecosystems that sustain and protect life are just as vital below water as they are on land. The decline and degradation of natural marine, coastal and freshwater ecosystems, and their biodiversity, combined with increasing ocean warming, ocean acidification and widespread pollution, presents a crisis of just as serious concern.
Humans rely on these ecosystems for coastal protection, medicines, industry and food. The sustainability of global fish stocks has plummeted in the previous few decades. Marine genetic resources, among others, are used for pharmaceutical purposes including anti-viral effect, and conservation of marine ecosystems assures their conservation.
Excessive nutrients runoff is also an issue which can lead to eutrophication, harmful algae blooms as well as potential increase in the number of dead zones, all of which can compromise the production and conservation of vital resources.
As waste often ends up in oceans and other sources of water, UNEP’s immediate guidance on safe chemicals and waste management considering the sudden increase in toxic medical waste, including single-use plastic waste, due to COVID-19, is as important to this goal as to goal 15.
Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12)
Unsustainable production and consumption is perpetuated by brown financing, investments and lifestyle choices. Such practices have led to a depletion of natural resources, disruption of ecosystems, resource and carbon-intensive economies and infrastructures, as well as environmental health issues and diseases.
This pandemic has shown where many of the weaknesses in our systems lie. It has proved that responsibilities to act extend from governments to private sector to civil society and individuals if we are to successfully meet environmental goals.
Nature is in crisis, threatened by biodiversity and habitat loss, global heating and toxic pollution. Failure to act is failing humanity. Addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic and protecting ourselves against future global threats requires sound management of hazardous medical and chemical waste; strong and global stewardship of nature and biodiversity; and a clear commitment to “building back better”, creating green jobs and facilitating the transition to carbon neutral economies.