Welcome, you’ve reached the final of 17 articles looking at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Throughout this series, we’ve tried to give a fair and honest assessment of the state of the goals, how dire their situation is, and what hopes they have for a brighter future. In this piece, relating to Partnerships for the Goals, we will wrap up the series by looking at leadership, collaboration, international agreements, the uncapped potential of international development, and how all of this relates to Covid-19.
What have we learned from Covid-19 so far?
- Global challenges have no national borders
- Global challenges require systemic changes
- Collective individual action makes a huge difference to the outcome
- Prevention is better than the cure
- All our response measures need to be based on science
- Business as usual is no longer an option!
Each SDG contains a number of goals and objectives, and for SDG 17, there’s one main aim that wants to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”. The key organisations that this involves are banks, NGOs, and governments, with those in developed countries collaborating to aid those in developing nations.
Some secondary sectors that also play an important role are technology and science, which deliver innovations and improvements to developing countries to help them implement the SDGs. For emerging nations to improve their performance on achieving the SDGs, their capacities and capabilities need to be expanded, with regular monitoring partnerships to ensure that sustainable development is achieved.
How can partnerships help to solve Covid-19?
Well, what might first come to mind is the vaccination-sharing programmes that are going on, with powerful countries like China, the US, and the UK donating vaccines to developing nations. The sharing doesn’t stop there, in fact for developing nations to get ahead, and for stability to be achieved, policy coordination, knowledge sharing, financial resources, and export laws can also lead towards joint accomplishment.
Sustainable development is underpinned by macroeconomic stability, and that means certain countries need to make better use of financial aid, improve how they collect revenue, make stronger trade deals and products for exports, and develop their economies.
In order to solve the continuing issue of achieving the 2030 Agenda, we have to accept that partnerships are necessary. We can’t do this as individuals, and even if the business world were to tackle SDG17 head-on, it still wouldn’t be enough. All sectors must come together, even despite the limits placed on us by Covid-19, which has even caused some reversals in places. The reality is that SDG17 should not have been its own goal, but should have been ever-present in all of the other 16 SDGs, showing how all global problems are solvable by bringing people together to form solutions.
What does the UN say?
I’ve organised some comments from the UN into bullet points to make it easier to digest:
- The UN Secretary-General believes the best response is one that places the most vulnerable populations at the front and centre. It is also said that partnerships, collaboration, and shared analysis can help to seize opportunities during a crisis, which led to the UN Response and Recovery Trust Fund
- Most developing countries lack the resources and funding to make an adequate response to Covid-19 and its recovery, making cooperation crucial. The UN set out the Global Humanitarian Response Plan to help support the secondary effects of an inadequate response, such as displaced people
- A new debt crisis is likely, impacting the least developing countries the most, meaning new debt relief packages and extensions on old loads need to be made (see the 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report)
- Anyone can donate to the Solidarity Response Fund, set up by the World Health Organisation. So far it has raised over $250m from businesses and individuals
- With the threat of misinformation being higher than ever, the UN launched Verified, to help spread accurate and trusted information about science, solidarity, and solutions. Squashing dangerous misinformation is key to saving lives, cooperating, and solving problems
The Good News – SDG17 Resources
Now for some good news! There is progress being made. In fact, partnerships around the world are springing up to help those who need it. It will take time, and for some nations, recovery will feel arduous and slow, but as long as there is commitment and funding, I believe we can #recoverbetter.
This Medium post lists loads and loads of partnerships and funding programs that will help to support developing nations with their Covid 19 recovery plans.
This educational article from the World Economic Forum explores how partnerships can thrive.
The United Nations Volunteers list all success stories here, which is full of great tales of support around the world!
This interesting paper highlights how human rights and the SDGs must be considered throughout any recovery plans. It’s a great read.
Being the last of this series, I want to make a few comments about SDG17 and all of the SDGs as a whole. In terms of this final goal, I am seeing progress moving rapidly in the forging of partnerships and plans, but actually measuring the results and recoveries is hard to do. We can see with vaccine statistics that the developing countries are the least vaccinated and that countries, where overcrowding is an issue, has resulted in major transmission crises. On the other hand, access to information is at an all-time high, people are using the internet to remit money through digital currencies, and others are able to make money from home during a time when going outside presents health risks.
There are significant challenges still to be overcome, with the economic fallout of global pandemic rollouts still waiting to reveal the full extent of its damage. Foreign aid isn’t enough and populations are outgrowing their economies, leading to larger wealth divides. The Sustainable Development Goals are the best framework we have for solving most of the world’s problems, but whilst they exist more theoretically than practically, we still need to adjust our own personal efforts and pressure organisations that can have a multiplied effect.
Thank you for reading this Brave New World series.