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Goal of the Month April 2020: Good Health and Well-being

Featured article from the UN Sustainable Development Goals website.

We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said is “attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people’s livelihoods.”

Launching a new plan to counter the potentially devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on 31 March, the Secretary-General called for an urgent and coordinated response that focuses on the health emergency as well as addresses the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis with an aim to build more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.

“Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face,” he added.

Projections show that there could be up to 25 million job cuts jobs globally (ILO) and up to $3.4 trillion losses in labour income (ILO). There could be a 30 to 40 per cent decline in global foreign direct investment flows (UNTACD). An estimated 1.5 billion students are now out of school (UNESCO) and children have lost access to school meal programmes.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the agency leading the UN response, offers a variety of important resources to address and cope with the crisis, including a COVID-19 website, a dedicated multilingual messaging service using WhatsApp, a Solidarity Response Fund, advice for the public and parents as well as a series of myth busters.

April’s edition of Goal of the Month, which focuses on Good Health and Well-being, looks into COVID-19’s impact on the different aspects of the development agenda — economic, social and environmental. Ahead of World Health Day (7 April), the edition also highlights the work and challenges facing the medical community, paying tribute to the courage and dedication of health care workers on the frontline of the response.

We have featured 3 of the UN's areas of impact this month, please visit their page to read the full content.


The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has called for a $2.5 trillion coronavirus crisis package for developing countries to recover – through the special drawing rights (international reserves), debt cancellation and a Marshall Plan for health recovery. 

In a new report, the agency says that since the virus began spreading beyond China, developing countries have taken an enormous hit in terms of capital outflows, growing bond spreads, currency depreciations and lost export earnings, including from falling commodity prices and declining tourist revenues.

Latest estimates also show that the pandemic’s impact on foreign direct investment (FDC) will be more dramatic than previously projected. UNCTAD warns that global investments could go down by 40 per cent. 

The world’s top 5,000 multinational enterprises, with a significant share of the FDC, are seeing a decline in their 2020 earning estimates. Experts say that the hardest hit industries include energy and basic materials, airlines and automotive.   

To access UNCTAD’s latest analysis, please visit its COVID-19 dedicated website.


According to the latest UN monthly economic update, as businesses lose revenue, unemployment is likely to increase sharply, transforming a supply-side shock to a wider demand-side shock for the economy. 

Speaking recently at a press conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that focus needs to be on people, particularly “low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises and the most vulnerable” – needing “wage support, insurance, social protection, preventing bankruptcies and job loss.”

Moreover, more than half of the world’s employed population works in the informal economy – and are more likely to face higher exposure to health and safety risks without appropriate protection, consequently making preventive measures for the wider population less effective, warns the International Labour Organization (ILO)

For more information on the protection of workers, please visit ILO’s dedicated COVID-19 website. Read more about the United Nations’ work to ensure vulnerable groups are not left behind. 


Nature is sending us a message with COVID-19, says the head of the UN Environment Programme, Inger Andersen, adding that “never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people.” Today, 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife. 

According to WHO, man-made changes to nature as well as crimes that disrupt biodiversity, such as deforestation, land-use change and the growing illegal wildlife trade, can increase contact and the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans, also known as zoonotic diseases. 

As the COVID-19 outbreak shows, zoonotic diseases “pose huge public health, biodiversity and even global security risks,” warns Daniel Mira-Salama, the World Bank Beijing Office’s Environmental Specialist. 

Although the immediate priority is to protect people and prevent the pandemic’s spread, Andersen adds that “our long-term response must tackle habitat and biodiversity loss.” 

UNCTAD’s deputy chief Isabelle Durant also believes that the pandemic is “triggering reflections” for nature-focused sectors such as tourism. Carbon emissions have drastically decreased in recent months leading to notable improvements in air and water quality – reminding such sectors how critical it is to pursue less carbon intensive models. 

More resources on nature-based solutions are available on UNEP’s website.

Photo credit: UNDP

Please read the rest of this months "Goal of the Month" article here

(and review their archieve section to look back)


More UN resources are available on the dedicated UN coronavirus portal, which highlights theUN System’s response. Also check out the UN News site and resources for broadcasters.


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