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Where we are on the way of achieving SDGs: Online Webinar on SDGs and COVID-19

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The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in November 2019 in the Chinese province of Hubei. It was within china only in the first some weeks. In the past months, COVID-19 has spread to other countries. On 11 March 2020, WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a “pandemic”. Affecting a total of 210 countries and territories in the world, there have been 3,232,975 cases, leading to the death of 228,517 people so far. These cases have been increasing by the minute, as the virus spreads from social contact. Apart from being the number one cause of death right now, the impacts it has on people and their lives are for worse than imaginable. Taking a fast track to being a catalyst to a complete lockdown from big cities to small villages, the coronavirus has been the catastrophe of the decade, if not the century. COVID-19 is taking its toll on the world, causing deaths, illnesses and economic despair. The ramifications of this global crisis have extended from the health spectrum to the social, psychological, economic, environmental and other aspects. The effects of COVID-19 and all the situations created by it cannot reckon in some particular sectors as it has affected all the sectors and aspects around the world, which means, we must not miss out the impacts of COVID-19 on UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and where we are on the way of effectuating all the 17 goals targeted to achieve by 2030.

To portray and figure out the positive and negative impacts of COVID-19 on each and every 17 goals of Sustainable Development, Sustainability Week Kathmandu (SWK) and Thought for Food (TFF) have jointly organized an online webinar on April 28, 2020, using e-platform of Zoom and was live through the official Facebook page of SWK. The main objective of this program was to consolidate all the issues and challenges define new opportunities devised by COVID -19 and this lockdown to accomplish the SDGs within the limited timeframe. There was more than 25+ participants in Zoom and 40+ participants in Facebook live having diverse educational knowledge working experiences and relevant backgrounds. All of the participants had put their insights on different particular goals according to their expertise.

The webinar was hosted by Mr. Ashish Lamichhane, Program Head of SWK and moderated by Mr. Ghanshyam Bhattarai, Country Ambassador of TFF, on behalf of program organizer team. Ongoing of the webinar, Ashish Lamichhhane started the session on the note speaking on what is MDGs and SDGs and it history as well as importance of its introduction to human world by UN. He had also illustrated the data of UN in which they have listed different global goals that are effected by COVID19 they are: 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,10,11,13,16 and 17. He also shared his views focusing on goal 6, 12, 11 and 13 stating both positive and negative impacts.

Similarly, Ghanshyam Bhattarai had lighted on how this health crisis is gradually transforming its shape into food crisis (goal no. 2, Zero Hunger), globally. “The effect that COVID-19 has on our food systems cannot be underestimated. In several cases the demand for products has reduced due to restaurant, school, and workplace closures. This has led to increased food waste in some parts and increased need in other regions. Even during the pandemic, we must continue with our efforts to bridge the gap between food waste and hunger. The farmers must try to make new products and recipe such as Paneer from milk, Chips from Bananas etc., using excessive unsold food commodities from their farms in household level. Such fresh goods can be preserve applying different techniques, which helps farmer to procure sufficient diet and nutrition during this crisis,” Mr. Bhattarai said.

As this program was an open discussion on SDGs and COVID19 relation, there were a lot of prospective from each individual. One of our international participants from Afghanistan, Mr. Meer Manawi who has completed his master’s on WASH, stated that people around the world are more worried and showed their health concern and attention (Goal 6) during this chaotic situation which is really a good preventive measures to be safe from other diseases including both transmittable and non-transmittable, like Diarrhea, Food Poisoning.

On the other hand, Ms. Misti Bhandari, student of BSW, stated that SDG goal number 5 i.e. Gender Equality is affected by COVID-19 as most of the women have been introduced to more domestic violence. Women are being dominated as well as Quality Education is also perceiving the negative impacts due to this lockdown. Additionally, Ms. Sita Basyal, student of Law, stated that SDG goal Number 8 i.e. Decent work and Economic Growth is also getting negative impact due to this pandemic as the virus has resulted in mass unemployment and further threatens millions of jobs. Trade restrictions can trigger shortages and inflate the prices of food items abruptly. Similarly, travel restrictions, suspended flight operations, border closures and labor shortages are also disrupting the global economy.

Ongoing of this webinar finally this discussion comes to an end with support and additional to those enlisted goal which has negative and positive impacts of COVID-19. This team has planned to come up with a different online program in this Lockdown to notify youth the impact of COVID19 on SDGs which was finalized by 2 hours of discussion.