The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is exposing the complex organic interrelationships of science, innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An invisible virus, COVID-19 is a threat to humanity and the world’s economies. It is intricately linked to our delicate social, economic, technological and ecological systems. COVID-19 may have been caused by human activities and their impacts on the environment. In The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It, Jonathan Quick, notes that deforestation, climate change and rapid urbanization contribute to the emergence of new pathogens that pose global health risks.
COVID-19 may undermine prospects of attaining some of the SDGs. For example, it is already causing disruptions in the transitions to SDG8 (decent work and employment) and SDG9 (fostering industry, innovation and infrastructure). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate that the global economy will contract by at least 50%, with GDP growth expected to be 1.5% instead of the 3% that had been projected at the beginning of this year. The decline in GDP growth is associated with major disruptions and shutdowns in tourism, transport and manufacturing activities around the world. Unemployment is a stark reality as businesses close or slow production. Education institutions are closed, and research activities slowed. Food production and supply chains are being disrupted.