Analysis: Sustainable Finance Addresses Social Justice as COVID-19 Raises the Stakes
Early in the pandemic, the coronavirus was seen as the “great leveler,” hitting rich and poor alike. Instead, it’s become apparent that COVID-19 is the “great divider,” aggravating the many structural inequities between richer and poorer nations and people–leading to demands for social justice.
This call is not new, but countries have only made commitments to address it in recent years. The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by member states in 2015, aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for everyone by 2030. The goals include good health, gender equality, and access to affordable, safe housing and essential services, among others. In keeping with the SDGs, the Paris Agreement of 2015 acknowledges the need for a “just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs” in combatting climate change.
The world has made some progress in the past few years in advancing these agendas, but COVID-19 is halting progress and threatening to reverse gains. This is showing up in diverging health outcomes and increasing global poverty rates, to name just two. It’s also evident in the growing backlash against systemic racism and reports of police brutality, as seen in the Black Lives Matter movement in many countries, and, more recently, the End SARS protests in Nigeria (see “Why Corporations’ Responses To George Floyd Protests Matter,” published on July 23, 2020, and “Diversity And Inclusion As A Social Imperative,” published on Aug. 3, 2020). The pandemic has become a health crisis that also has huge ramifications for social justice that will dominate social, political, and economic agendas for years to come.
Photo courtesy of United Nations COVID-19 Response.