Lessons Learned – COVID-19 and the UN-SDGs

The world machinery is now mobilizing all its efforts, but how? In this context, what do we need to learn and why? Never in the history of humanity there has been such a global determination on all levels to stop the a life threatening disease, a novel invisible enemy ‘COVID-19’. An aggressive nanoparticle virus that invaded the Planet Earth, infecting us humans, spreading with an extremely fast speed in all countries around the globe and paralyzing all sectors on national and global levels. First it was China, then Korea, Iran and Italy (https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coronavirus-italy). It is now accelerating in Europe, the UK and the US and following these it is expected to expand to the MENA region, South America, Africa and the rest of the planet. China did solid efforts to revert the advance of the COVID-19 and it seems now that it has passed the infection-peak of its population and on its way to recover. At the early stages of the appearance of the COVID-19 the rest of world took naive stand “wait and see”. However, with repeated warnings of WHO it was realized that any more delay and “wait and see” would bring disastrous impacts of tectonic scales to all countries around the world as it was seen in e.g. Korea, Iran and Italy to start with. Europe, took by surprise, was not prepared to take fast and common actions and the EU was very slow to agree on common and collaborative policies, i.e. what to do. However, this is not strange as the machinery in the EU (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/european-commission_coronavirus-covid19-activity-6645002380771368960-LmYC) is based on lengthy and complex chain of negotiations between the member states (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1149491) especially what regards its internal and external borders (https://mises.org/wire/eus-once-open-internal-borders-are-closing-down). The member states of the EU, or rather the different countries in Europe, took their own actions and various pathways to cope with the internal spreading of the COVID-19 (https://www.thedailybeast.com/shuttered-europe-cracks-under-the-coronavirus-strain) in their countries. With the delay of common actions, as the rest of the world, Europe imported the COVID-19 and became in relatively short time a new epicenter for COVID-19. The most common and global criteria is how to flatten the infection-peak by social distancing and to empower hospital and healthcare capacities, and whenever possible to perform effective testing and screening (https://youtu.be/vww1nIIoqmw) in order to halt the spreading of the infections and minimize its fatal socio-economic impacts. Interesting enough Sweden set up a limit of 500 persons for gathering of people, Australia 100 persons (indoors) while many other countries including the USA and countries in Europe are recommending no more than 10 persons. Naturally there are reasons behind these figures, including the decision made so far by Sweden not to close schools and other associated links with its limited capacity in the health sector. It seems that many countries, even in developed economies, because of different reasons are not enough prepared to deal with wicked threats of large-scale and long-term nature. However, Finland seems to be very well prepared as they have until early this week very good testing and containment system. Finland though their high level of preparedness has imposed sharp restrictions of social distancing including shutting down their schools (https://www.svtplay.se/video/26027712/nyheter-direkt/finland-stanger-skolorna-pga-coronaviruset). Now, what have these issues to do with the UN-SDGs. It is interesting to see how goal 3 of the UN-SDGs “Insure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages” is very much dependent, linked and have complex synergies with all the other 16 goals of the UN-SDGs (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/) including goal 17 “Revitalize the global (and also regional) partnership for sustainable development”. The actions taken in the USA for example demonstrate the needs for effective partnerships between the private and the public sectors on the one hand, and combined synergies of top-bottom policies and bottom-top collaborative actions from the citizens. The strategies and policies taken in the USA, also to some extent in Europe, illustrate how modern ICT technology can be a great instrument in promoting effective and fast solutions to speed up the national actions and in proving effective top-bottom and bottom-top synergies. However, the testing in the USA for several reasons in not representing the actual situation (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/607348/) and the numbers of infections can be much higher, which is also the case for many other countries. The USA also has underlined the imperative involvement of the youth to assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19. The youth by being among the least affected groups by the health threats of COVID-19 and at the same time a spreading source of infection to the the risk groups of population. On the large-scale and the long-term perspective, it is evident from all what is said before the great importance of the UN-SDGs, i.e. in coping with major global crises that are facing and will be facing the humanity on planet Earth. Goal 1 “No povery” and goal 2 “Zero hunger” are essential to cope with the threats of COVID-19 at least in developing and poor counties. Quality of education, goal 4, is without of hesitation a key issue to cope with wicked problems such as COVID-19. Gender equality, goal 5, is imperative also to engage all the population in the mitigation of severe crisis such as the COVID-19. Goal 6, clean water and sanitation, is imperative for having high quality health standards and the same applies to goal 7, which is the driver of all products from food and industry. It goes without saying, goal 8 “create job opportunities for youth” by being part of the drivers of goal 9 “industry and innovation and infrastructure”. Goal 10 “reduced inequalities” are also important for effective engagement of all citizens in common threats. Goal 11, “sustainable cities and communities” is also part of empowering the citizens to take collective actions and measures for bottom-top effective synergies. Goal 12 “responsible consumption and production” is a key issue for empowering the society as a whole to act promptly and fast in coping with large-scale and long-term threats such as the COVID-19 where goal 13 “climate action” has feedback impacts from at least goal 12. Goal 14 “live below water” and goal 15 “life on land” are essential for food production, biodiversity and eco-systems services. Goal 16 “peace justice and strong institutions” are essential for providing the necessary safety and security to all the citizens to engage in bottom-up synergies.

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