IDDRI: How to align national Covid-19 recoveries with the Sustainable Development Goals

How to align national Covid-19 recoveries with the Sustainable Development Goals

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The Covid-19 crisis encompasses multifaceted and interconnected risks and vulnerabilities, which extend to wide-ranging humanitarian, social, economic and environmental dimensions. The pandemic and its consequences also challenge the efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a holistic manner. As stated by the UNSG, Antonio Guterres, at the recent SDG Summit, “the 2030 Agenda is designed to address the very fragilities and shortcomings that the pandemic has exposed”. Almost one year later, what can be said about national recoveries and the extent to which these have used the transformative ambition and design of the 2030 Agenda? How can we ensure that recovery plans and investments do move us closer towards SDG achievements and not the other way round? These and many other questions were raised and discussed in a series of high-level dialogues jointly organized by IDDRI and the DIE (German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik) that brought together a group of government officials, specialized agencies and international organisations, as well as think tank representatives from all regions of the world. Some initial insights and takeaways are presented in this blog post. 

Not all countries are equally up to the challenge 

There is a window of opportunity to build back differently, thinking about the broader objectives of well-being. In reality, though, it is not easy for most countries to think long term in an emergency situation. Some countries have no mention of sustainable development in their recovery plans, while other countries’ plans even show some backsliding, especially when it comes to environmental measures. Most current recovery efforts can be regarded as stimuli packages, which seek to protect economies from the impacts of the pandemic. These measures tend to have a cushioning, reactive effect rather than a structural and transformative one. Covid funds could in principle provide windows of opportunity for transformative investment in building up the markets of the future, yet they have still so far included a strong focus on fossil fuels. Taking a closer look at Covid recovery investments, we realize that only 17% of the total sums so far allocated to Covid-19 economic recovery support green measures, and still a lot of recovery funds go to fossil fuels.

From a global perspective, the distribution of Covid-19 recovery funding is also highly skewed. Hence, countries’ differing fiscal space and means of investment into national recovery has contributed to exacerbating inequality, both within and between countries. In poor and vulnerable countries that lack these capacities, we see worrying trends of increasing inequality figures, especially in Sub-Saharan African states. Beyond the budgetary and GDP gap, this global inequality also affects countries’ investments in markets and technologies of the future, which may in turn also widen the policy gap between high-income and low-income countries and their ability to attract future investment.

Read the full blog here.

This publication first appeared on the IDDRI site. 

Authors: Elisabeth Hege (IDDRI), Niels Keijzer (DIE).

Photo by Philippe Put via Flickr.

The views are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ETTG.

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