Assessing COVID-19 impact on the Sustainable Development Goals

Author: UNDP

UNDP’s flagship study, conducted with the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver, assesses the impact of three different COVID-19 scenarios on the SDGs, capturing the multidimensional effects of the pandemic over the next decades. The findings show that while COVID-19 can lead to severe long-term impacts, a set of ambitious but feasible integrated ‘SDG investments’ can help the world exceed the development trajectory we were on before the pandemic, even when taking COVID impact into account.

The analysis also includes a special focus on countries with low and medium levels of human development as per the 2020 Human Development Index (HDI), in support of the 2030 Agenda’s pledge to Leave No One Behind.

By using scenario modeling, the study shows how governments can make choices today that have the greatest potential to boost progress in the future, within planetary boundaries. This type of analysis can empower governments to turn COVID-19 from a short-term crisis into an opportunity for transformation towards sustainable development in the long-term.


The study applies the International Futures tools developed by the Fredrick S. Pardee Center at the University of Denver to understand the potential effects of three COVID scenarios:
  • The ‘Baseline COVID’ scenario represents significant pandemic-period increases in poverty and hunger and substantial longer-term negative consequences;
  • The ‘High Damage’ scenario describes a future where the economic damage is worse and recovery is delayed;
  • The ‘SDG Push’ scenario outlines the impact of targeted policy interventions that can accelerate progress towards a more fair, resilient and green future.
Learn more about the study 

SDG Interventions – HOW DO WE GET THERE?

These interventions are ambitious, even radical, and require behavioural changes on all levels of society. Governments must improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Citizens must change consumption patterns in food, energy and water. And the global collaboration on climate change must improve – including on carbon taxes and fossil fuel subsidies. 

The benefits are echoed across additional human development indicators, including nutrition and education. You can explore more of these indicators and scenarios for your region across the years.

What might the world look like in the next decades? Explore how regions and countries are predicted to fare on each indicator under the different 'futures'.

Pick the geographies you are interested in to explore in more detail the impact of the various 'futures' on each of them and how they compare to each other.

Changes don't happen in isolation. Explore the relationship between different indicators under the scenarios for the selected countries and regions.

More questions? Use the table below to select which data you want to analyze further and then use the 'Export Data Selection' button to download