The UN published a report by the UN Secretary-General, according to which the “high costs” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and climate change underscore “the importance of countries shifting to a structural transformation pathway that promotes the goal of sustainable development.” It identifies recommitting to meet the SDGs by 2030 as “the best roadmap out of these crises.”

Titled, ‘Accelerating the Recovery from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ the report shares its theme with that of the 2023 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). According to a summary note, it should be read in conjunction with the Secretary-General’s SDG progress report and report on long-term future trends (forthcoming). Its findings will inform Member States’ deliberations during HLPF 2023 in July and the SDG Summit in September. 

The report highlights that COVID-19’s economic, social, and environmental impacts have “greatly affected” developing countries’ ability to invest in SDG implementation. It notes, however, that countries that were closer to achieving the SDGs when the pandemic hit were better placed to deal with its impacts, pointing to “the underlying frailties” of today’s global socioeconomic system that the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change were meant to address.

The report urges countries to capitalize on opportunities for transformational economic change, refocus on investment in human well-being and institutional capabilities, decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, and renew multilateral cooperation and partnership, supported in these endeavors by the UN system.

To accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the SDGs, the report recommends that countries, inter alia:

  • Recommit to achieving the SDGs “at national and global levels between now and 2030, by strengthening the social contract and reorienting their economies towards low-carbon, resilient pathways aligned with the Paris Agreement”;
  • Realize the priorities set out in the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and Our Common Agenda;
  • Place high priority on investment in education and skills development in “developing countries with a large number of young people entering the labour market”;
  • Address long-term gender inequality in society;
  • Step up efforts to combat the threat of global climate change;
  • Measure the wealth of nations not only by gross domestic product (GDP) but also “the combined stock of manufactured, human and natural capital”; and
  • Commit to the renewal of multilateral cooperation and to multilateral debt relief and development cooperation.

An advance unedited version of the report was published in May 2023. [Publication: Advance Unedited Version: Accelerating the Recovery from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] [HLPF 2023 Website]