Lessons Learned? The SDGs and COVID-19



As the world struggles to cope with the crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are explaining the link between the pandemic and biodiversity loss through deforestation. Other voices warn about the next crisis ahead – the climate change crisis – which will bring even more devastation to the world if it is not addressed now.

The recent UN report on the Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19 clearly outlines the devastating effects that will be felt by people in both formal and informal economies. It highlights that if we had been investing in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) then we would have been better prepared to withstand shocks.

An inconvenient truth. The current crisis will have a negative effect on the sustainable development agenda and its implementation. More specifically, the report outlines several impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This leaves companies in a Catch-22 situation. Many of them are fighting for survival and are currently unable to invest in sustainable development. At the same time, doing just that will help them become more resilient for future shocks.

And we know the next shock - the climate change emergency - is on its way. Climate experts are asking for a continued focus on climate change. They have voiced the expectation that as daily life resumes, communities, governments and businesses do not revert to bad habits but help reshape the world towards a greener and most just future.

The EU is trying to safeguard its Green Deal, even with the economic hit already felt across its member states. Financial institutions are acutely feeling the impact of the crisis on their assets and investments. However, they can now more clearly see the difference between resilient and non-resilient companies. They will increasingly look for sustainable investments.

Focusing on sustainable development will help companies not only in the long-term. In the short term, applying Responsible Purchasing Practices for example will help sustain inclusive and sustainable economies, as covered by the SDGs. Reshaping global value chains and creating true partnerships between business partners, that work in both good and bad times, will be crucial in delivering the progress that is needed.

amfori is committed to aligning its work to the SDGs. We support our members to measure their contribution towards achieving the SDGs. In 2019, amfori released a technical mapping paper and practical guide for members to start integrating the SDGs into their companies’ strategy. In 2020-2021, amfori plans to provide the tools and datasets for members to start measuring their contributions.

The next ten years have been declared the Decade of Action to reach the 2030 Development Goals. It is a clear call which we hope will receive a massive response, from everyone. Let us know how we can help.


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