Statement by the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocates and Alumni on COVID-19

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Statement by the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocates and Alumni on COVID-19

New York, United States of America, Friday, April 3, 2020

The Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates and SDG Advocate Alumni today jointly released the following statement regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.


We, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocates and Alumni, are greatly concerned by the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and the impacts it is having in every corner of the globe.  We stand in solidarity with those affected. 

Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones and those who are caring for the sick. We express our deep appreciation, gratitude, and admiration for those on the frontlines fighting this virus, saving lives, and keeping essential services running in countries under lockdown.

Fighting this pandemic, leaving no one behind, is the immediate priority for the SDG campaign.

Global, regional, national, and local level policy responses to the outbreak must be designed with a gender lens, and pay special attention to those living in extreme poverty, with disabilities, indigenous communities, the homeless, refugees, and internally displaced persons. Responses must be equitable and reach the digitally isolated. Leaders must protect civic space in their countries to ensure policy responses are transparent and inclusive. Particular attention must be given to addressing rising levels of domestic violence.

We call for urgent global action to protect and support the most vulnerable countries and areas, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Latin America, and Small Island States. Leaders, policymakers, and the international community, in particular the G20 and G7, must act quickly and decisively to mobilise the resources needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in these areas, while also scaling up healthcare support and strengthening social safety nets.

We stand in solidarity with out-of-school children, millions from vulnerable backgrounds, and call for provision of equitable and inclusive distance education for all, so that learning never stops.

Economic policies responding to the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic must meet the needs of affected countries and the most vulnerable. The approaches governments take will have long-lasting effects, and must avoid deepening the root causes of climate change and conflict. We urge policymakers to be bold. 

Confronting COVID-19 requires coordinated global humanitarian and socio-economic responses. The virus does not respect borders. Addressing this crisis requires worldwide collaboration and partnerships, across all aspects of the response. We ask member states to work together, guided by the UN and a recognition of our common humanity.

We applaud the Secretary-General for establishing his Response and Recovery Fund. This fund will support low- and middle-income countries, and crucially, help countries preserve the gains they have made towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. 

We urge member states and all stakeholders, including business, civil society organisations and philanthropy, to accelerate their action and investments in response to COVID-19. Scaled-up and long-lasting support is fundamental to protect, help, and rebuild for those furthest behind.

The Secretary-General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire is essential. We call on all warring parties to cease hostilities and “focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

Looking beyond the urgency of the current moment, we endorse the Secretary-General’s call for the world to recover better. The SDGs and the Paris Agreement are our roadmaps. Policies, actions and investments to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic must be guided by the 2030 Agenda as we step up action to build resilient societies and achieve the world we want. 

World leaders agreed in 2015 to achieve the SDGs by 2030. We have only ten years to meet them. The Secretary-General earlier this year called for a Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the need to respond with urgency and ambition, to recover better for both people and planet.