Let the Great Transition Begin

Given the scale and shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is understandable that many leaders would seek a rapid return to the status quo ante. But now that vaccines have created a long-awaited opportunity to build anew, re-creating the conditions that led to the crises of 2020 would be a mistake.


NEW YORK – With COVID-19 vaccinations underway in some countries and efforts to expand access still ongoing, world leaders will soon shift their attention from crisis response to pandemic recovery. Governments have already committed $12 trillion to the COVID-19 response, and there will be strong pressure to keep investing in a return to the pre-pandemic “normal.” But that would be a mistake.

Putting aside budget constraints, we have just seen that the pre-pandemic normal had dire implications for the world. Our strained interactions with the environment helped introduce the coronavirus to humans, our hyperconnected global economy allowed it to spread like wildfire, and its especially deadly effects on the most vulnerable populations has highlighted the consequences of deep-seated social and economic inequalities within and between countries.

Instead of aiming to restore that pre-2020 way of life, our leaders should set their sights on creating a different, better world. Fortunately, they already have a roadmap in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which embody economic, social, and environmental targets that all countries have committed to achieve by 2030.

When originally adopted in 2015, the SDGs aimed to double down on a previous generation’s progress by eradicating extreme poverty, reversing the scourge of environmental degradation, and decisively reducing inequality. By the time COVID-19 began devastating the world, targets like ending preventable child deaths were coming within sight, even if problems like climate change and social inequality were looming ever larger. And although the virus has impeded progress, it hasn’t changed the essential outcomes.

Moreover, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on problems like food insecurity, gender inequity, racism, and biodiversity loss, alongside longstanding gaps in access to education, jobs, and life-saving technologies. These are all problems that the SDGs seek to address.

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Πηγή: project-syndicate.org

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