The Scientific and Technological Community Major Group, jointly facilitated by the International Science Council and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), submitted a position paper for the upcoming 2022 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which will be held on 5-15 July. The theme of the HLPF this year is “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to lives and businesses around the world with massive adverse health and socio-economic impacts for societies worldwide. The crisis has further exposed vulnerability to shocks, particularly among the poor and marginalized, feeding off existing inequalities and exacerbating them, undermining the aspiration of the 2030 Agenda of ‘leaving no-one behind’. Economic gains and opportunities continue to be unequally distributed, while costs and impacts associated with climate change and biodiversity destruction are increasing exponentially and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable and poor, particularly in low-income countries.
Although COVID-19 is a global and systemic crisis, governments’ responses have focussed predominantly on national solutions and on health measures, which are insufficient to remedy its broader societal impacts. A longer-term perspective at national, regional and global levels that is aligned with the global framework for achieving sustainable development provided by the 2030 Agenda is needed in order to shorten the course of the pandemic and mitigate its negative impacts. Unfortunately, the conflicts in Ukraine and elsewhere further threaten the ambition of achieving a sustainable and resilient recovery throughout the world, as well as the ability of countries to address global challenges in a coordinated and collaborative manner. Progress on the SDG agenda, which was already very slow before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflicts, will potentially be set back by a decade or more.
In line with the focus of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) for 2022 on building back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda, this position paper brings together the latest scientific evidence and thinking from the scientific, engineering and technological community. It highlights policy domains that need to be prioritized in future if we are to advance process on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and be better prepared for the future as societies are facing a wide range of economic, technological, environmental and geopolitical challenges that go far beyond the coronavirus.