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The Impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Covid-19

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Courtesy of YouTube(United Nations YouTube channel)

I will discuss sustainable development and its impact on our society amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. To provide context, I will give a brief overview of the genesis of the SDGs. Sustainable development is "development that fulfills the present generation's vital needs without impinging on future generations' ability to satisfy their own crucial needs."

Readers can trace its early origins back to the early 2000s with the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation in September 2000. The SDGs are a follow up to the MDGs. There are many strongpoints the SDGs framework presents. First, it is more comprehensive and inclusive than the MDGs framework. The SDG framework is a global effort in every sense of the world. It calls on ALL countries and people to fulfill all 17 SDG goals on an individual, community, local, national, and global level.

In comparison, the MDG framework applied to low-income and middle-income countries primarily. Another strength of the SDG framework is its strong emphasis on the importance of collaboration and implementation. Again, it is a global call to action. All hands are needed on deck to implement and execute every single goal outlined in the framework. Five fundamental tenets underpin The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework. The five underpinnings are of the planet, people, peace, prosperity, and partnership. For a more meaningful impact, the SDGs framework pivots on the three essential dimensions of economic growth (a proxy measure of prosperity), social inclusion, and environmental protection. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework was launched in September 2015, involving all 193 United Nations (UN) member states. It was, indeed, a monumental moment in contemporary times. A sense of renewed energy and hope among UN officials, civil society, and world leaders at the time was palpable and optimistic.

I would be remiss if I fail to discuss the SDG framework's impact on our society amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The limited, modest gains achieved before the virus' onset runs the precarious risk of becoming undone due to the overwhelming level of anguish and instability the virus has inflicted on humanity. The high death rate is objectionable on so many levels. Millions of people have succumbed to the coronavirus. I am utterly disappointed in our administration for being unprepared to contain the virus transmission. Also, he exemplified atrocious leadership and did not act in the best interest of ordinary citizens.

The COVID-19 virus has wreaked havoc on each subpopulation; no one has been immune from suffering. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and opened up the Pandora's box to novel manifestations of disparities. The ubiquitous discussion around the digital divide phenomenon has disproportionately affected school-age children, primarily from low-income communities and countries. Children living in high-income nations have greater access to a plethora of high-tech gadgets to participate in remote learning. Also, every government has implemented school lockdowns in every country to halt the spread of the virus. Although closing schools is an effective public health measure, it can present a new host of issues for children and their families. From a developmental perspective, children out of school for indefinite periods become deprived of social interactions and valuable learning opportunities in the classroom, impeding their social and cognitive development.

Moreover, school is not just a place for learning for many children. Another facet affected by school lockdowns is the disruption of nutritional services. Children, especially from low-income communities and countries, heavily rely on schools to provide nutritious meals that they may not receive at home.

Another trend I will discuss is the astronomical unemployment rate affecting young adults in the 18-29 age group. From a gender standpoint, the virus has disproportionately affected women. Due to the lockdown measure, individuals and families fell on hard times and could not stay afloat. The coronavirus pandemic has sharpened our awareness of the importance of preparedness in times of hardship. Another stark reality the pandemic has brought to light is the high number of countries with weak social protection systems. According to the 2020 SDG report, women, on average, exert about 3 hours to every 1 hour of unpaid domestic and care work than their male counterparts. The virus and subsequent lockdown measures pivoted our typical daily routines. It has relegated many of us, namely working adults, to work remotely. Due to school closures, over 1 billion children have participated in virtual learning.

The lockdown measures have opened the floodgates for a new set of issues to arise, such as violence against children and gender-based violence, such as domestic violence. In almost every country, there has been an alarming increase in domestic violence toward women and girls.

No country will be on target to achieve the SDGs by the year 2030. The coronavirus has evoked feelings of uncertainty, pessimism, and anxiety in all of us. A ray of hope is felt by many of us. This positive feeling can be attributable to the imminent release of the vaccine believed to be about 90% effective in curing the COVID-19 virus. However, we must not become complacent and suddenly let our guard down to inhibit the virus's spread. Social distancing protocols and other safety precautions, such as handwashing and wearing masks, are crucial to effectively curbing the importation(transmission) of the virus.



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