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  • Policy Shift Team

Confronting the Sustainable Development Goals with the Covid-19 crisis

Covid-19 represents both a health and a human crisis, leading us to question our society’s relationship with its environment and ecosystems, but also with one another. Dealing with this crisis requires the implementation of a coordinated, decisive and innovative policy response, bringing together a multitude of actors and stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Consequences of Covid-19 have had intense socioeconomic impacts, requiring strong stimulus and regulatory policies to mitigate the negative consequences. It has also led to the questioning of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, as a result of even higher negative impacts on our most vulnerable populations and climate zones. Moving forward, we need both sustainable policies to respond to environmental and climate related issues, as well as socially inclusive policies promoting national and international solidarity. Furthermore, a scenario-based analysis of exponential risks would enhance policy design and policymaking, by focusing on placing social inclusion and resiliency at the core of this socioeconomic reorganization. By recognizing the interconnectedness between health and the economic, social and environmental factors of this pandemic, we can start to establish a new agenda that ensures collaboration from the public and private sector, as well as greater engagement from civil society.

Policy Shift’s infographic illustrates the corresponding links between the different SDGs and presents the overarching impacts and responses that have been developed to push back against this ongoing crisis.


SDG Impact and Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis​​


The Policy Shift Team publishes ongoing analysis on many of the issues highlighted by the SDGs, and more recently on the Covid-19 crisis. As the current crisis brings to light many of the challenges that are already essential for the implementation of the SDGs, the Policy Shift Team will continue to present our analysis on these issues in the upcoming weeks and months.

While extreme global poverty has been declining, it has slowed over the course of 2019. According to the UN, this indicates that the world is not on track to achieve the target of less than 3 percent of the world living in extreme poverty by 2030. That is why strong social protection systems and government spending on key services are of crucial help for those left behind to escape poverty. However, these services need to be brought to scale. The current crisis has shown substantial loss of income for a large part of the world population.


Achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth is an inherently difficult task: while labour productivity has increased and unemployment is back to pre-financial crisis levels, the global economy is growing at a slower rate and the current crisis has amplified that tendency. This is why more progress is needed to increase employment opportunities, particularly for young people, to reduce informal employment and the gender pay gap, and to promote safe and secure working environments to create decent work for all.

Esteban Tinoco has written on the universal basic income as a game changer in social policies here:


​​With rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at rates much faster than anticipated and its effects are clearly felt worldwide. While the current crisis has shown signs of a steady decrease in emissions, far more ambitious plans and accelerated action are needed on mitigation and adaptation, especially in the context of the stimulus packages that are being designed by states all over the world. Such climate action must be coupled to action in light of biodiversity loss, both marine and terrestrial.

Charlotte Gardes and Carlos Araujo have written several literature reviews on these issues, in direct link with the Covid-19 crisis, including:


Promoting the rule of law, ending violence, strengthening institutions and increasing access to justice are objectives with uneven advances so far, as millions are still deprived from their security, rights and opportunities. Attacks on civil society are also holding back development progress. The current crisis is having an impact on current cross-conflict cooperation, local support capacity and peacekeeping missions.

Jennie Cottle has written several analysis pieces on immigrants' rights and policies here:

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