Despite the pledge by 193 governments in adopting the historic Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, COVID-19 and the accelerating climate crisis threaten to undermine the progress made and to increase global poverty levels for the first time in decades. Global leadership—governmental and corporate—has been found seriously wanting.
At least half of the world’s population do not have access to essential health services. Three billion people lack basic handwashing facilities, over a billion people live in dense, slum conditions and are therefore unable to practise physical distancing, and 40% of health care facilities globally lack hand hygiene at points of care (WHO/UNICEF JMP 2019).
The virus and resulting lockdowns threaten the livelihoods of 1.6 billion workers, and a few months ago 11,000 scientists declared clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth faces a climate emergency. These combined social, economic and environmental crises show the need to make real progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inspire new, collective action towards a more just, equitable and sustainable global order.
Central to this agenda is finance. Yet even before widely-instituted lockdowns and the resulting economic recession, financing to achieve the SDGs was woefully insufficient.