The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Report 2021, launched in New York says besides the four million dead, nearly 119-124 million people have regressed into poverty and chronic hunger. Highlighting the devastating impact of the pandemic on the world economy, it says that 255 million full-time jobs have been destroyed by the infection.
Healthcare gains reversed
The spread of Covid-19 has impacted not just the livelihoods of people, it has also caused a major setback to health services in almost 90 per cent countries. Progress has seen reversal in maternal and child health, immunization as well as combating communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Economic growth halted
Giving an insight into the widespread devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, UN Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin said: “The pandemic has halted, or reversed, years, or even decades of development progress. Global extreme poverty rose for the first time since 1998”.
The report brings out the stark realities confronting the world.
The report says that the poorest of the poor have faced the brunt of the virus. While the rich nations were able to provide 68 vaccine shots for every 100 people, it was as low as two shots in sub-Saharan Africa.
Impact on environment
The report points out that the lockdowns and economic slowdowns have not arrested the climate change crisis. "Concentrations of major greenhouse gases continued to increase, while the global average temperature was about 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, dangerously close to the 1.5°C threshold, established in the Paris Agreement", says the report.
Children and women
Regarding the most vulnerable groups, the report says that the schooling of millions of children has been halted, and many may not be able to resume school due to the adverse conditions created by the pandemic. Also, many children are now involved in work and there has been a rise in child marriages.
The pandemic has also affected the march towards gender equality. "Violence against women and girls has intensified, child marriage is expected to increase, and women have suffered a disproportionate share of job losses and increased care responsibilities at home", says the report.
Though the SDG Report 2021 points to an alarming scenario, it also says that the next 18 months are crucial. Liu says: "This report paints a worrying picture regarding the state of the SDGs. Yet, it also highlights stories of resilience, adaptability and innovation during the crisis, which indicate a brighter future is possible".