25 Sep More light on the Sustainable Development Goals
At the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in New York in September 2019, world leaders called for a decade of action and results for progress and sustainability. Along with the call to action, they promised to “mobilize funding, improve implementation at the national level and strengthen institutions to achieve the SDG by the scheduled date, 2030, leaving no one behind.”
A year later, the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to delay the achievement of the SDG. In fact, for the first time since 1998, poverty rates will rise as the world economy enters recession and per capita gross domestic product (GDP) drops sharply.
The ongoing crisis will reverse almost all the progress made in the last five years. According to World Bank, between 40 million and 60 million people will fall into extreme poverty (living on less than $ 1.90 a day) in 2020, compared to 2019 figures, as a result of the economic impact caused by the SARS-CoV 2 coronavirus. The world extreme poverty rate could increase between 0.3 and 0.7 %, reaching around 9% of the population at the end of 2020. The second wave we are experiencing nowadays it may worsen these forecasts.
The SDGscan be summarized, like the ten commandments, in one: improve coexistence between humans and between them and their natural environment. Although eradicating hunger appears as Goal 2, it should be the first, because the first manifestation of poverty is, precisely, the difficulty to nurture properly. Feeding 7.8 billion people (8,500 in 2030, according to United Nations projections) is a great agricultural, livestock, logistical and environmental challenge.
Poverty also has an energy dimension. SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy. The United Nations points out in its formulation that “it is necessary to pay greater attention to improvements for access to clean and safe cooking fuels, and to technologies for 3,000 million people, to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the electricity and increase electrification in sub-Saharan Africa ”.
According to the UN, “the lack of access to energy can hamper efforts to contain COVID-19 in many parts of the world.” Energy services are essential to provide electricity supply to health establishments and clean water for essential hygiene, up to allowing communications and information technology services that allow people to connect while maintaining social distance.
It is paradoxical that energy poverty and the need to decarbonise the economy to slow the advance of climate change coincide with a period of great financial liquidity. If capital does not flow fast enough towards an activity that is not only in demand, but also appears essential for the sustainability of human progress, it is because there are obstacles or brakes to investment. These retarders are national energy laws, which should be revised under the SDG rather than the heat of the interests of the dominant operators, which are those that still burn fossil fuels to generate electricity.
On SDG Day, our responsibility as citizens is to do everything possible to achieve the goals set as soon as possible. Let’s take the pandemic as a serious wake-up call and focus the light on the sectors and activities that can most quickly produce a turnaround.