Impacts of COVID-19 on Sustainable Development Goals and effective approaches to maneuver them in the post-pandemic environment

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022 May;29(23):33957-33987. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-17793-9. Epub 2022 Jan 15.


In the pursuit of constructing a sustainable world for all through the instrumental seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and affected the efforts concentrated on these goals. Therefore, there is a pressing need to analyze the extent of the impact that unfolded from the pandemic on each Sustainable Development Goal and further to direct the post-pandemic situation to accelerate the progress in every goal. Besides, there exists a knowledge gap in understanding the Sustainable Development Goals and its interaction with each goal through synergic and trade-off effects. To address the aforementioned imperative problems, this study is formulated to perform an impact assessment as well as to provide direction in the post-pandemic environment to effectively progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by using a hybrid qualitative and quantitative framework. A detailed investigation is carried out to examine the pandemic impacts in every goal, and a quantified impact analysis is performed in terms of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals with the aid of ranking methodology. The results indicate that SDG 1 and SDG 8 are the most impacted goal. To provide deeper perspectives into the Sustainable Development Goals, a critical analysis of the targets and indicators is performed to characterize the goals from their elemental point of view, such as nature of goals, depending factors, locus of the goal, and Sustainable Development Goal interactions. Further, a novel parameter, the degree of randomness, is proposed whose application in environmental research is immense. The impact on each goal and impact interaction between all the SDGs are also mapped, through which the dynamics of Sustainable Development Goal interactions is elaborated. In context with the post-pandemic scenario, the strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with environmental focus are presented with prioritization factor that supports quick recovery. The introduced prioritization factor is formulated by employing a multi-criteria analysis methodology. In addition, the fundamental elements of SDGs are built upon one another to frame an optimized and effective approach to achieving the SDGs in the post-pandemic environment. Despite the strategies, a conceptual framework to align the business practices with the SDGs is propounded. This study deep down would provide a unique perspective to the research community and would impart deeper knowledge in connection with sustainability, while the solutions framed would steer the policy and decision-makers.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; Degree of randomness; Environmental sustainability; SDG interaction; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Pandemics
  • Sustainable Development*