SDGs or COVID 19; which comes first?

Even while governments worldwide are, rightly, focused on minimising the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, their response, and their research investments, should be guided by the United Nations framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The uncomfortable truth is that the current pandemic could have been contained by existing health systems if we were closer to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

There are 169 targets underpinning the 17 SDGs and at least 7 of them deal directly with our current situation. These 7 represent a straightforward framework for those looking either to design or to fund research to help control this pandemic and prevent recurrence.

As you would expect, the first 5 targets directly related to the pandemic are part of Goal 3; good health and well-being.

There are 2 additional targets which did not, until the beginning of 2020, seem to directly impact human health.  We now understand more clearly how our own health is linked to the wellbeing of the other creatures who share our planet.


The full list of Goals and Targets are available here:
The target definitions above are taken from the UNStats Global Indicator Framework Document which is available for download here.
This document also includes the indicator set for each target, which provide a further useful framework for research.

So what about research that does not contribute directly to these 7 goals? Don’t worry. If your work fits within the SDG framework you are also helping us to defeat COVID-19 because the Goals are so closely interrelated.  Good health requires food security, education, equality, sustainable cities  . . . in short good health depends on our achieving all 17 goals. Global Academy researchers are contributing to targets under all 17 goals, so don’t feel that your research is less relevant if you are not contributing directly to the 7 targets above.  All research that helps us achieve the 17 goals also helps us to defeat COVID-19.

Research funders looking for strategies to help defeat COVID 19 should start with the 7 targets listed above and work outwards.  We already have a plan to defeat COVID-19 and a host of other wicked, worldwide problems. We just need to bring everyone, EVERYONE, on board. 

Wendy Stone

Wendy Stone

Wendy leads the team at The Global Academy. She also makes respectable tea, but should leave coffee to experts.