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The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020

image of The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020

This year marks the start of the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It is a critical period to advance a shared vision and accelerate responses to the world’s gravest challenges – from eliminating poverty and hunger to reversing climate change. Yet, in only a brief period of time, the precipitous spread of the novel coronavirus turned a public health emergency into one of the worst international crises of our lifetimes, changing the world as we know it. Now, due to COVID-19, an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis is threatening lives and livelihoods, making the achievement of Goals even more challenging. The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 presents an overview of progress towards the SDGs before the pandemic started, but it also looks at some of the devastating initial impacts of COVID-19 on specific Goals and targets. The report was prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with over 200 experts from more than 40 international agencies using the latest available data and estimates.

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Sustainable cities and communities

Over 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases are occurring in urban areas. The pandemic is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest, including the 1 billion residents of the world’s densely populated informal settlements and slums. Even before the new coronavirus, rapid urbanization meant that 4 billion people in the world’s cities faced worsening air pollution, inadequate infrastructure and services, and unplanned urban sprawl. Safe public transportation, reliable basic services and open public spaces are especially important now to ensure the health and livelihoods of urban dwellers. Successful examples of containing COVID-19 demonstrate the remarkable resilience and adaptability of urban communities in adjusting to new norms. Cities will emerge from the pandemic, but whether they are prepared for the next crisis will depend on how much they can advance data-driven inclusive and sustainable urban development.

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