The latest 2020 edition of the Sustainable Development Report has outlined a detailed framework on which to construct integrated strategies to recover from COVID-19 and to build back better.
Since its launch, this annual report has provided the most up-to-date data to track and rank the performance of all UN member states on the SDGs.
“The pandemic has laid bare the fragile economic, social, and environmental underpinnings of our world today. Despite the world’s vast wealth, scientific and technological prowess, and supposed preparedness for disasters, and despite repeated specific warnings of the risks of pandemics, including many specific warnings of coronavirus pandemics, the world was not ready when the virus struck,” the report stated.
“The SDGs were adopted to address unnecessary risks and fragilities across the economic, social, and environmental domains. These include poverty, widening inequalities in income and access to decent lives, continued high disease burdens, and of course massive environmental destruction. These warnings are today more pertinent than ever. If the COVID-19 disaster accomplishes anything good, it should be to shake the world from its complacency, so as seriously commit to the hard work of investing in a sustainable and inclusive future for humanity,” the report added.
The six SDG Transformations can be implemented in every country to help address trade-offs and synergies across the SDGs.
The core of the six Transformations is the recognition that all 17 SDGs can be achieved through six major societal transformations, focused on:
(1) Education and Skills
(2) Health and Wellbeing
(3) Clean Energy and Industry
(4) Sustainable Land Use
(5) Sustainable Cities
(6) Digital Technologies
These are guided by the twin principles of “leave no one behind” and “ensure circularity and decoupling.” Providing an action agenda for governments, businesses, and civil society, the 6 Transformations help governments and the international community, as well as business and civil society, to frame actionable strategies to achieve the SDGs and thereby make our societies more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable.
Transformation 1: Education, Gender, and Inequality
• Countries must invest more in their education systems to strengthen their resilience, particularly by drawing on modern communication technologies.
• The crisis is accelerating the rollout of digital tools in schools and in remote education and training – tools that have been used in many countries to strengthen the resilience of education systems in the midst of the crisis.
• Further investments in education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and in life-long learning are needed to accompany these transformations and boost skills.
• Further basic health prevention measures in school programs like hand-washing need to be streamlined.
• Place women’s needs and leadership at the heart of the response to the health and economic crises.
Transformation 2: Health, Wellbeing, and Demography
• Strengthen the role of public health and disease prevention and surveillance.
• Increase the role of public authorities in the research for treatment and vaccines, and in providing access to treatment and vaccines.
• Accelerate efforts to achieve universal health care
• Strengthen public health emergency preparedness
• Reduce dependence on other countries for key health supplies and equipment
• Expand digital health solutions like telehealth to reduce the burden on hospitals and increase access to care.
• Increase the quality and timeliness of health statistics.
• Increase the resilience of health systems to respond to shocks/crises like increasing capacity to build hospitals and other infrastructures in record time.
Transformation 3: Energy Decarbonization and Sustainable Industry
• Use the Paris Climate Agreement as the vision for long-term change and to inform investment plans and bailouts.
• Build on positive short-term prospects due to plummeting industrial output and further the roll-out of digital services and e-commerce to accelerate the transition to climate neutrality.
• Reduce international dependence for key industries and sectors in case of major disruptive events.
• Pursue efforts to enforce environmental treaties and national regulations despite the lockdown and economic turmoil.
Transformation 4: Sustainable Food, Land, Water and Oceans
• Governments should seize the post COVID-19 recovery as an opportunity to accelerate the transition towards sustainable and resilient food systems.
• Accelerate efforts to provide universal access to water and sanitation, and increase focus on hygiene and handwashing to help curb transmission of oral-faecal diseases
• Pursue efforts to reduce negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems to prevent future pandemics
• Strengthen food security and hygiene, including the reduction of risks of zoonotic diseases
Transformation 5 (Sustainable Cities and Communities)
• Address immediate threats to vulnerable groups in urban settlements (homeless, refugees), to avoid a deep worsening of their living conditions and to make confinement measures more effective
• Strengthen the territorial distribution of doctors and availability of care, including in rural areas
• Further integrate vulnerable groups in urban settlements, including homeless people, refugees, and migrants
• Adapt public transportation systems to the need for physical distancing and hygiene, and to changing patterns in working and commuting habits
• Develop integrated territorial strategies to address the impact of travel restrictions on business, exports, and tourism activities
• Regional and local policy leaders will need to guide the transformation of their territories in order to adapt to new realities including social distancing, changes in workplace practices and commuting patterns, and travel restrictions, which will impact business and tourism activities.
Transformation 6 (Harnessing the Digital Revolution for Sustainable Development)
• Further expand digital health solutions to reduce the burden on hospitals and increase access
• Develop and use online education tools
• Further development of other digital government services and e-commerce
• Further investments in STEMS, digital skills, equity, and lifelong learning
• Accelerate the adoption of measures that support a fair transition for workers affected by the digital and technological revolution