Dear Mankind, most favoured of my children ,
I wrote to you some time ago about the dangers and threats to our joint future that your species, the most beloved of my children, had brought about for yourselves , for me and for all who co-exist on this fragile blue planet. I outlined the problems and what needed to be done to create a safer and fairer world for all ( Mother Earth’s blogs ). I really thought things were about to improve and that mankind had at last recognised that they must adopt more sustainable ways of living and learn to live in harmony with the environment and all fauna and flora so that we are not all destroyed. I was encouraged when your species agreed the sustainable development goals ( SDGs) and laid out the path for a more equitable future for all. The fact that all the countries in the world, your political leaders, the biggest companies and organizations around the world had all agreed and committed themselves to take such enlightened action delighted me and made me proud that your species had at last begun to be more responsible and caring about others and our joint future.
Sadly , sometimes events transpire that test our resolve. The rosy picture of the future that I had imagined has been shattered during the last 2 years and much of the ground that was beginning to be gained through the SDGs has been lost due to the covid 19 Pandemic. This event has shown in no uncertain terms just how intimately linked we all are. The fact that a local incident in a poorer country, thousands of miles away can have such a devastating impact worldwide and bring deaths and illness to millions shows why the richer countries need to improve conditions in the less developed world. It has also demonstrated just how much inequality and unfairness still exists in the world and in some cases, has added to such inequalities and unfairness. Even the distribution of and access to the vaccines highlights the continuing disparities and inequities of the world
It is estimated that around 11 billion doses of vaccines are required to vaccinate 70% of the world population ( assuming 2 doses per person ) in order to achieve population-level or “herd” immunity. Although your Pharma industries have done an amazing job in developing vaccines and have manufactured hundreds of millions of doses, it is wealthy countries who have captured an overwhelming share of the benefit. High- and upper-middle-income countries, representing just 20% of the world’s population, have pre bought around 6 billion doses ( 55%) ; but low- and lower-middle-income countries, representing 80% of the population, have secured only around 2.6 billion ( 24%) . In the 29 poorest countries ( home to about 9 % of the world’s population) only 0.3% of the global vaccine doses have been given. As a result only about 8.4 % of people in low-income countries have had at least 1 covid vaccination. Nigeria has only 2% of its population fully vaccinated , Ghana 7.4 % , Kenya 7.2 % More needs to be done to get vaccinations to the low-income countries and for the richer countries it should be seen a matter of self-interest since the reality is “ until all are safe, no one is safe”
A complicating factor is that vaccines distributed to African countries are often close to expiry date so have a short shelf life and their delivery is often erratic. This, added to difficulties of poor infrastructure, lack of refrigeration etc. make efficient distribution and use of vaccines very difficult . Nigeria for example, recently had to destroy more than a million doses of vaccines that were close to expiring and could not be got out to rural areas in time to be used. Until those in the developing world are also protected, the risk of future covid variants and mutations remain a risk for all.
Sadly the momentum that was building on the SDGs implementation prior to the Pandemic has also been lost to some extent and renewed efforts are needed to reinvigorate the momentum that was beginning to occur before the Pandemic started. Over the next few months I will review the current status of progress and the impact of covid 19 on each of the 17 SDGs and provide short updates. I will also identify the potential innovations and developments that show most promise.
Sources : The Sustainable Development Goals Reports 2019 -2021 , United nations , New York