By Thandiwe Grant
Content warning: I will be discussing Covid-19, inequality and a desolate future…
I’ve been to the year 2030…
What comes to mind when you think of the year 2030? Do you feel excited, scared, or apprehensive?
When we picture the future it's often associated with flying cars, holograms, self-lacing shoes…All the amazing futuristic developments we envision in 2030? A world cleaner, brighter and more efficient than the current one we inhabit right now? Well, it won’t happen on its own. It will take more than daydreaming to make this a reality. If we want to be in that kind of safe utopia-like world, we’re going to have to take a massive jump from where we are now.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development outlines 17 development goals that could help us get there. I could focus on all of these development goals, but that would be a very long article. I'm going to give a brief outline of three. So before we can even dream of a fantastic future, we should look at present issues that need to be addressed in our world, for example…
What we presently need to improve…
Education, gender inequality, and equality for all.
What do these things mean to you?
To me, they are all inexplicably linked. Education is the bedrock for all things. The more we know about the world, the more we can achieve and thrive in it. Equal education creates better opportunities, improving the quality of life for everyone - in theory.
Sustainable development goals 4, 5 and 10 deal with how we can improve education, provide gender equality and reduce inequality around the world. How we can also provide knowledge and let everyone have an equal footing on the world stage.
It all sounds pretty ambitious, doesn’t it?
If that doesn’t already sound like a tough mountain to scale, Covid-19 has added a number of obstacles in the way of these sustainable development goals.
Goal 4 - Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality of education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
"By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have completely free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes."
Goal 5 - Gender equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
"End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex."
Goal 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Reducing inequalities and ensuring no one is left behind.
"By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability or race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status."
As ordinary people - we constantly discuss how covid has affected our day to day lives but thinking about the impact of covid on a global scale, means that the 17 SDGs were heavily affected too.
The 2020 SDG report says;
“The SDGs are the world’s shared goals for sustainable development, and Covid-19 makes them more relevant than ever.”
In the shorter term, the world leaders' main concern is controlling the virus, naturally.
“In the longer term, we argue that the SDGs provide the framework to guide the recovery. Countries need to invest in stronger and more resilient health systems and pursue other SDGs.” - 2020 SDG Report.
Speaking of, this is how Covid has directly affected the three SDGs I have chosen to focus on…
Covid 19 and its effects
Quality of Education
A National lockdown meant for schools, universities, colleges and other forms of higher education: Zoom lessons, Teams lessons. Children without electronics suffered terribly, without any way to access their education, they fell behind. Many children and young people also suffered from poor mental health, being isolated socially - not seeing your friends every day at school.
The pandemic has worsened the cause of equal rights and made ending discrimination against women even more difficult. Because of lockdown, levels of violence against women have reached an all-time high, as domestic violence had become inescapable when you were fined for leaving your homes.
The Pandemic has also “Pandemic is adding to the burden of unpaid domestic and care work and squeezing women out of the labour force.” - The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021.
Women, “already spend about 2.5 times as many hours as men in unpaid domestic and care work.” - The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021.
All this and more is disheartening to hear about the fight for gender equality. We can only hope that it gets better.
We’ve all heard the news. Loss of jobs. The government is passing plans that line their own pockets instead of protecting and supporting the people who need it most. Covid has shed a spotlight on inequality in the world more than ever before. The way the world leaders have responded to the crisis shows their true colours, and where their real loyalties lie.
Especially the British government, which is more concerned with keeping the economy afloat than the health of the people.
""Covid 19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest. It has put a spotlight on the economic inequalities and fragile social safety nets that leave vulnerable communities to bear the brunt of the crisis. At the same time, social, political and economic inequalities have amplified the impacts of the pandemic."
So how do we move forward now?
As everyday people, we need to be alert, and aware of the state of our world, and spending awareness of sustainable development outlines any way we can. The real power to implement change lies in the hands of world leaders. It's their responsibility to spend our taxes in ways that can bring out positive change, distributing wealth in a way that can benefit the poorer and richer sections in a balanced way. There are many problems that need to be tackled by the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensuring that the government funds go to causes that can help development, is the first step.