New York, 17 September 2021
Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have greatly exacerbated national and global inequalities. Blatant examples are the unfair distribution of care work, relying mainly on women and poorly remunerated if at all, and the global disparity in the distribution of vaccines.
So far more than 60 percent of people in high-income countries have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but less than 2 percent have done so in low-income countries. In view of this dramatic disparity, the "leave no one behind" commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development remains hollow.
The dominant interests of rich countries, and corporate powers continue to dominate political decision-making. Given the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis and the other unresolved global problems, most notably the climate emergency, it is high time for transformative policies at all levels.
This is the key message of the Spotlight on Sustainable Development Report 2021. The report is launched on the first day of the Global Week to #ACT4SDGS by a global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions.
According to the report, economic justice based on human rights can be achieved, but the trend towards privatizing, outsourcing and systematic dismantling of public services must be reversed. To combat growing inequality and build a socially just, inclusive post-COVID world, everyone must have equitable access to public services, first and foremost to healthcare and education.
To prevent the COVID-19 pandemic being followed by a global debt and austerity pandemic, governments must be enabled to expand their fiscal policy space and properly tax multinational corporations and wealthy individuals, many of whom pay virtually no income tax at all. Fundamental reforms in the global financial architecture, including a debt workout mechanism beyond piecemeal relief measures for debt servicing, are long overdue.
With a virtual launching event, the key findings of the report will be presented on 17 September, 9am EDT.
Quotes from the authors of the Spotlight Report 2021:
"The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have reminded the global community of the essentials of reviewing and in many cases rewriting international rules and the urgency of Just Transition strategies to move in this direction.
The scourge of COVID-19 struck an already stark reality of multiple inequalities – in households, across communities, in national context, and among countries. Its waves of devastation have exacerbated pre-existing conditions and disparities as well as creating new ones."
Barbara Adams, Global Policy Forum
“Reclaiming and investing in our public services, even expanding beyond the scope of their traditional boundaries, is a key avenue to envision and build a new future where everyone can have a place. But the window of opportunity opened by COVID-19 is short-lived. We must seize it. There is no time to lose.”
“There are no individual solutions to collective problems. Public services are about cooperation as opposed to competition; pooling resources together to everyone’s benefit; and building solidarity within communities, societies and economies so that we can be stronger and more resilient together”.
Daria Cibrario, Public Services International
“The majority of governments in the world are expected to start austerity cuts with negative social impacts, such as social security/welfare reforms and wage bill adjustments. There are alternatives, even in the poorest countries. Instead of cutting public expenditure and much needed public services, governments must look at new fiscal space and financing sources.”
Isabel Ortiz, Global Social Justice Program
“It took a global pandemic to open the world’s eyes to the absolutely vital role of education. Free quality inclusive public education for all is imperative to any recovery effort. To make it happen, governments must work with teachers, education personnel, and their representative organisations. They must be supported and empowered to lead the recovery in education.”
David Edwards, Education International
"A People's Recovery should be prioritised, we found that 63% of all the recovery money in the global South countries we studied went to big businesses, with only spent on 22% to social protection. Now people across the world are campaigning to extend and make permanent the grants that were increased during Covid-19, but austerity policies are proposed instead."
Matti Kohonen, Financial Transparency Coalition
“This [UN Food Systems Summit] creates a dangerous precedent in the United Nations, giving corporations a special entry point to global food governance without clear rules, and sidelining existing democratic multilateral and human rights-based bodies such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).”
Magdalena Ackermann, Society for International Development & Charlotte Dreger, FIAN International
The annual Spotlight Report has been published since 2016 by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Global Policy Forum (GPF), Public Services International (PSI), Social Watch, Society for International Development (SID), and Third World Network (TWN), supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2021
Demanding justice beyond rhetoric - Time to overcome contradictions and hypocrisy in the COVID-19 crisis
Global Civil Society Report on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs
Beirut/Bonn/Ferney-Voltaire/Montevideo/New York/Penang/Rome/Suva, September 2021
For media requests please contact:
Global Policy Forum
Coordinator - Public Relations
Contributing partners of the Spotlight Report 2021