Impact of COVID-19 on SDGs 1

Impact of COVID-19 on SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are global goals aiming at globally ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring that there is peace and prosperity in the future. While several countries had committed to ending poverty, discrimination against the vulnerable, AIDS, and other global concerns, the coronavirus pandemic has inappropriately impacted developing countries in the three main dimensions of education, health, and living standards.[1]

According to a study,[2] the education system of especially low and medium development countries has been disrupted, and students have lost close to one full academic year due to school closure amidst the pandemic. The data from UNESCO highlights that over 800 million students globally have had their education disrupted. According to these data, most students could not afford the online education system due to poverty, and COVID-19 has worsened the situation because several jobs were disrupted. As one of the prime objectives of SDGs, poverty has continued to strike several households in these countries, and the journey to developing SDGs has been interfered with.

The pandemic also interfered with the schooling of most girls. A study found that the lives of girls and young women, especially from the marginalized communities, have been burdened due to the addition of duties.[3] One of the SDGs is to end discrimination against the vulnerable. However, with the onset of the pandemic, several school girls were exposed to other risks such as early marriages, disease infections, and limited access to quality education. These problems have interfered with the execution of various strategies to achieve SDGs.

COVID-19 has resulted in devastating impacts on the implementation of the SDGs. The pandemic disrupted the declining proportion of the working poor. A study finds that in 2019,[4] the proportion of the working poor had declined to 6.7 from 26.1 in 2000. The study, however, indicates that in 2020 after the onset of coronavirus, this proportion increased to 7.2% for the first time since 2000, translating to additional 8 million poor workers. This data shows that the SDG to end poverty by 2030 might not be workable since most countries are taking a lot of time to recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19. In addition to the increased numbers of the working poor, several people permanently lost their jobs and specific jobs were permanently disrupted. Therefore, there has been an increased number of people living in poor households with poor living standards.

With the adverse effects on the labor market, the unemployment rates of the youth, women, and people differently disabled have also increased. Although there were unemployment issues for people with disabilities and the marginalized, a higher percentage was recorded after the virus outbreak. Therefore, the youth, young women, and differently-abled people are more likely to find themselves excluded from education, employment, and other basic needs.[5] The pandemic is set to negatively impact the future labor market because it resulted in a growing number of unskilled and unprofessional youths. Such youths will have harder times transitioning into the labor market, thus deterring countries from implementing the SDGs.

These impacts indicate that there will be a high percentage of people in extreme poverty by 2030, translating to a high number of people suffering from malnutrition. The unemployment rates will limit access to quality education and health and generally interfere with the global labor market.


[1] Abidoye et al. (2021). Leaving No One Behind: Impact of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

[2] Abidoye et al. (2021). Leaving No One Behind.

[3] Mitchell & Smith (2020). The Lives of Girls and Young Women in the Time of COVID-19.

[4] Mitchell & Smith (2020). The Lives of Girls and Young Women in the Time of COVID-19.

[5] Fenner & Cernev (2021). The implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.