Nobody expected 2020 to turn out this way. COVID-19 has unravelled our way of life, and as slowly emerge from the pandemic, countries around the world will invest trillions of dollars to restart economies and tackle the worst recession since the Great Depression.
To address the pandemic in isolation, is to address only a symptom of a larger illness. This larger illness is a global affliction of climate inaction, destruction of habitats, widening income and gender gaps and other problems that are undermining our natural and social support systems. Treating the symptom will do nothing to stop the disease.
The road to recovery will not be easy. Faced with an unprecedented challenge, we may be inclined to fall back on old habits that pollute the planet and deepen social and economic inequality. But it need not be this way. We can build back better from the pandemic. And we have just the blueprint to guide us: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs, a set of 17 goals for people and planet agreed upon by all nations in 2015, are the way forward. To achieve this collective ambition, we must use all the tools at our disposal to create awareness of the goals. Only with greater understanding of these Goals, and what they mean for humanity and future generations, will we find the political pressure needed for change. The UN Environment Programme is proud to have partnered with the Goethe-Institut on the 2020 Science Film Festival, whose theme will help foster this understanding.
Now more than ever it is the time to ramp up efforts to realize our ambitions by 2030. We can have a world of greener, more inclusive economies and stronger, more resilient societies. We can build back better from the pandemic. The Goals can guide us – if we have the will to achieve them.
Executive Director, UN Environment Programme