The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021 uses the latest available data and estimates to reveal the devastating impacts of the crisis on the SDGs and point out areas that require urgent and coordinated action. The report was prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with more than 50 international agencies.
As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is abundantly clear that this is a crisis of monumental proportions, with catastrophic effects on people’s lives and livelihoods and on efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Historically, pandemics have served as catalysts for political, economic and social change, and that still holds true today. The year 2021 will be decisive as to whether or not the world can make the transformations needed to deliver on the promise to achieve the SDGs by 2030 – with implications for us all.
As the pandemic continues to unfold, The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021 outlines some significant impacts in many areas that are already apparent. The global extreme poverty rate rose for the first time in over 20 years, and 119 to 124 million people were pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020. There is a risk of a generational catastrophe regarding schooling, where an additional 101 million children have fallen below the minimum reading proficiency level, potentially wiping out two decades of education gains. Women have faced increased domestic violence, child marriage is projected to rise after a decline in recent years, and unpaid and underpaid care work is increasingly and disproportionately falling on the shoulders of women and girls, impacting educational and income opportunities and health. Notwithstanding the global economic slowdown, concentrations of major greenhouse gases continue to increase. With the global average temperature reaching about 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, the climate crisis has well and truly arrived, and its impacts are being felt across the world. The pandemic has also brought immense financial challenges, especially for developing countries – with a significant rise in debt distress and dramatic decreases in foreign direct investment and trade.