COVID-19 Takes Heavy Toll on 2030 Agenda

However, members of the Dianova network positively impacted on several Sustainable Development Goals despite the pandemic

HLPF 2021

While several nations introduced temporary or limited social protection programs during the pandemic, more robust systems must be implemented on a global scale – Photo by Church of the King on Unsplash

By Saskia Burn and María Victoria Espada  – The COVID 19 pandemic represents a huge setback for the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is the assessment of representatives of UN member states and other experts at the 2021 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), based on their experiences and insights, and on the UN Secretary-General’s Progress Report on Sustainable Development.

Dianova representatives attended the virtual HLPF thematic sessions on global progress on the SDGs under review, with special focus on those SDGs that members of Dianova have facilitated progress in 2020 (view activity report). As a matter of fact, members of the Dianova network have a significant impact on several SDGs through their daily activities while the advocacy initiatives implemented in cooperation with like-minded NGOs also echo the 2030 Agenda.

The following is a compilation of the key messages delivered during those HLPF sessions as well as a showcase of the impact of the work of the Dianova network in 2020.

SDG 1: No Poverty

The already slowing rate of poverty reduction has been completely reversed as poverty levels increase in the wake of the pandemic, making the achievement of SDG 1 even more of a challenge. Many social protection systems, which should give support to the most vulnerable individuals and communities, are incomplete or insufficient. While several nations introduced temporary or limited social protection programs during the pandemic, more robust systems must be implemented on a global scale.

During 2020, the Slum Child Foundation, a member of the Dianova network in Kenya, directly benefited 3,500 people struggling with poverty and indirectly improved the lives of a further 10,500 people.

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Similarly, SDG 2 has become increasingly aspirational as the Covid-19 pandemic increases the already growing number of people who suffer from hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity. The pandemic has disrupted the production and distribution of food, and placed strain on global food systems, limiting access to healthy, nutritious food.

In this time of crisis, the Slum Child Foundation also directly supported 4,000 Kenyans with emergency food distribution and indirectly aided 12,000 people.

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

Moderate progress was being made towards SDG 3 prior to the pandemic, but the rate of implementation was not nearly rapid enough to achieve the targets by 2030. The Covid-19 pandemic had serious, far-reaching negative impacts on individual health and health services worldwide. The mental and physical health of already vulnerable or marginalized groups like women, indigenous peoples, and racial minorities have been disproportionately impacted. This is both caused and exacerbated by unequal access to health services, economic and employment inequality, and discrimination.


Despite the lack of protective equipment and scarce financial resources, members of the Dianova network adapted their activities to Covid-19 protocols and provided necessary addiction treatment and mental health care to 4,315 people in Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, India, Italy, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Uruguay in 2020. At the same time, Dianova International led 119 advocacy initiatives and one international awareness campaign and wrote up to 47 documents on topics related to SDG 3.

SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the deeply rooted inequality in our societies, clearly revealing how much work is left to be done on SDG 10. Discrimination and unequal access to services have left many marginalized groups like low-income communities, minorities, and refugees even more vulnerable. The pandemic has also increased international inequality, widening the divisions between wealthy, developed nations, and low-income, developing, and vulnerable states.

Angels in the Field in India, Associação Dianova Portugal, Dianova Sverige and Fundación Dianova Uruguay worked in reducing inequalities targeting vulnerable groups, directly benefiting 1,000 people and indirectly impacting more than 1,800,000 individuals throughout 2020.

SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

The pandemic has aggravated inequality, corruption, and violence worldwide, holding back more notably the achievement of SDG 16. On the one hand, violent conflicts continue to rage in multiple regions, leaving thousands of civilians injured, displaced, or dead. On the other, intimate partner violence and child abuse are on the rise worldwide, as well as the number of children forced into labor or child marriages. Simultaneously, institutions continue to be riddled with corruption, leading to decisions and policies designed to benefit those in power, rather than people and the planet.

In 2020, the Association of Engaged Youth for Humanitarian Action (AJEAH), a member of the Dianova network in Togo, worked in promoting the rule of law and good governance, directly benefiting community organizations and local authorities, and indirectly impacting young people, women and children. Concurrently, Dianova International led 10 advocacy initiatives and wrote 4 documents on SDG 3.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Prior to the pandemic, a significant number of member states and other actors were unwilling or unable to work efficiently towards the SDG 17. While many have observed that the pandemic is a clear example of the interconnections between the goals and between nations, there is still insufficient commitment.

Numerous countries do not have access to the financial and medical resources they need to recover from the pandemic in a safe and sustainable way. Limited access to the Covid-19 vaccine, ineffective financial aid, and crippling debt have only compounded their plight.


Like SDG 3, goal 17 is a crosscutting area of work within the Dianova network that directly benefitted 9,395 people in 2020. For its part, Dianova International implemented 51 advocacy initiatives and wrote 15 publications on SDG 17.

As mentioned, the review of SDG3 and SDG 10 among others during the 2021 HLPF provided a perfect occasion for Dianova International to demand substance use disorders and other addictive disorders be a matter of public health. On behalf on the whole Dianova network, Dianova International submitted a written statement (see page 186) to the HLPF, in the same spirit as the international awareness campaign launched in June 2020, requesting that addiction services be recognized as essential and receive the same levels of support as other health services.