Global Goals Week and COVID-19; a clarion call

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Left to right the two first members of the Gender Equality Dream Team, Fatuma Abdulkadir, from Kenya and Emma Holten, from Denmark, UN, HQ, March 2017. The Gender Equality Dream Team as a catalyst to 1) Highlight the importance of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. 2) Celebrate significant and ground-breaking work of gender equality role models. 3) Create awareness on SDG 5 at the Global Goals World Cup at UNGA72. Photo: UNDP/FreyaMorales

This year’s Global Goals Week (19–26th September), takes place in the shadow of a planet-wide pandemic, but it has not dampened the enthusiasm surrounding the event. On the contrary, COVID-19 is a clarion call to humankind to change the way we treat the planet and each other.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) show us the way forward.

The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities in almost every country on earth and has triggered a massive economic crisis that is making existing inequalities much worse — it is going to leave deep scars for years to come. But like many crises, it also presents opportunities to create a more just and healthy future.

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A volunteer delivers a food bag to a vulnerable family in the Tawrij district, outside of Karbala, April 2020. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities in almost every country on earth. But like many crises, it also presents opportunities to create a more just and healthy future. Photo: UNDP Iraq/Abdullah Dhiaa Al-dee

We face a common task in defeating COVID-19. Only together can we find the way through this pandemic, turn it around and build a new and better world. The Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the plan agreed by every country in 2015 to end poverty and inequalities and achieve healthy lives and a healthy planet, provides the vision of hope to get us from one world to the next.

Global Goals Week is a week of action, with people across the world mobilizing in different ways, calling on leaders to #TurnItAround. It is an opportunity for everyone — leaders, citizens, businesses — to commit to put the Goals at the heart of their recovery plans and to use the next ten years to deliver on all of them.

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Mother and Child during the height of the pandemic, Bangladesh, April 2020. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer

Nigerian Afro pop star Yemi Alade, will join UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to explore how the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic can be cushioned for those who work in the tourism industry, particularly in wildlife conservation. UNDP’s partnership with The Lion’s Share, where companies who use wildlife in their advertisements, has already begun support.

UNDP’s global Accelerator Labs network will look at what’s needed to speed up progress on the Decade of Action — the ten years we have left to complete the 2030 Agenda. This will include a Global Day of ‘Factivism’ on the 25th, the five-year anniversary of the Goals. We’ll be flooding the internet with facts about COVID-19 and the SDGs. And Project Everyone will host an edit-athon called ‘Wiki Loves SDGs’. The goal is to add Wikipedia pages for all the SDGs.

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UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau refs a 2017 Global Goals World Cup Soccer Game in Brooklyn, New York. Nigerian Afro pop star Yemi Alade, will join Nikolaj during this year’s Global Goals Week to explore how the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic can be cushioned for those who work in the tourism industry, particularly in wildlife conservation.

September 2020 is a unique moment–rather than meeting in person for the first time the United Nations will virtually bring together all world leaders for the General Assembly. It’s also the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

It’s a time of tremendous opportunity and challenge. We have been reminded that our past ways of living cannot continue. The COVID-19 pandemic has given extra impetus to the urgency of the Global Goals. There is still time, but we must act now.

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One of the last two northern white rhinos left on earth at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia, Kenya, December 2017. The socio-economic impacts of the pandemic must be alleviated for wildlife conservancies to protect endangered animals and the income of the tourism workers protecting them. Photo: GlobalGuardian/Shutterstock.com

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