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2022 voluntary national reviews strong illustration of setbacks caused by COVID-19: UN

2022 voluntary national reviews strong illustration of setbacks caused by COVID-19: UN

The world halfway to the UN 2030 agenda; but it is not halfway imagined in 2015, when the Agenda was floated, says Amina Mohammed

Photo: @AminaJMohammed / Twitter
Photo: @AminaJMohammed / Twitter

This year’s voluntary national reviews provide a strong illustration of the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including its serious impact on education, health, gender equality and the economy, said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on 5 July 2022.

For many countries, the pandemic exacerbated the problems of poverty, unemployment, unsustainable debt, growing inequality and inflation, she added.

At the household level, many families saw their income decrease. Countries with large service sectors and those that are heavily dependent on tourism or oil exports suffered the most, Mohammed said.

She spoke at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)’s high – level political forum on sustainable development in New York City.

The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda encourages member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven”. This is as part of the follow-up and review mechanisms.

This year is the seventh year of voluntary national audit presentations. The 44 countries presenting this year will bring the total number presented to 187.

Mohammed pointed out that voluntary national assessments this year also highlighted the urgent challenges of food security and climate change.

“Some countries reported an increase in drought and floods, a decrease in biodiversity, irregular rainfall trends and locust swarms that have reduced crops and affected the livelihoods of rural communities,” she said.

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Women, young people and children were the most vulnerable in all countries.

Some countries reported an increase in early marriages and a dramatic increase in gender-based violence. Many women, especially mothers, left the labor market during the pandemic as the burden of care escalated.

Many young people around the world now face even greater challenges in accessing education, training and employment, with increasing levels of anxiety and related mental health problems.

However, Mohammed said that the voluntary national assessments this year also gave hope.

«Land implemented innovative solutions and guidelines to rebuild better. Cash transfer programs, corporate debt moratoriums, national resistance plans and government stimulus packages have brought critical relief, she said.

Governments, in collaboration with the private sector, invested in domestic vaccine production and provided vaccines to refugees both within and outside their borders.

The voluntary national reviews reported on successful progress and examples of progress in areas such as agriculture, diversified education services, social protection programs, digital economy expansion, tax base optimization and legislation to combat domestic violence.

Mohammed also spoke about the UN 2030 agenda, which was launched in 2015. “We are almost halfway through the 2030 agenda. We have made progress. But I think it’s fair to say that this is not the “halfway there” world we envisioned in 2015, “she said.

She added that the many crises the world was in the grip of were a wake-up call for much-needed, often absent solidarity.

“I think we can make them an opportunity. The key lies in the necessary transitions in renewable energy, food systems and digital connectivity – and in investing in human capital, financing the opportunities,” she said.

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These transitions must be purposefully designed to increase economic growth, employment and gender equality, open to keeping the UN’s 2030 agenda promise not to leave anyone behind.

“The Sustainable Development Goals Moment during the General Assembly in September this year will be an opportunity to focus on these deep transitions, and on the work needed to get us back on track,” Mohammed said.

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