SDGs wheelCOVID-19

Dispatches from the field

Dispatches from the Field:
Scientists, experts and policy makers addressing the Covid-19 crisis around the world

We will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic only through effective collaboration and communication among scientists, experts, innovators and policymakers. Real-time sharing of experiences and insights will be critical in strengthening the science-policy-society interface, and contribute towards the solutions we need. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) is presenting here updates and analysis from experts belonging to the 10-Member Group to support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report, and other thought leaders affiliated with the UN.

The views expressed here are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations or its Member States

COVID 19 DESA response

The virus has made it clear: the future is now

Peter Messerli

Director, Wyss Academy for Nature and professor of sustainable development at the University of Bern, and co-chair of the group of 15 independent scientists drafting the 2019 UN Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR)

15 May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has shone a harsh spotlight on a range of development challenges, and the choices the world makes now in its path to recovery will shape the trajectory of sustainable development for years to come.

G20 should be ‘anchor’ in COVID-19 storm

Xiaolan Fu

Founding director of the Technology and Management Centre for Development (TMCD) of the University of Oxford and former member of the 10-member high-level advisory group to support the United Nations Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM)

15 May 2020

An Oxford University scholar has called upon the Group of 20 (G20) countries to be the “anchor in a storm” for the COVID-19 pandemic, which she described as a “wake-up call for collaboration.”

Covid-19 and climate change: We must rise to both crises

Meg Taylor

Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum and member of the UN Committee for Development Policy

15 May 2020

In the Pacific we aspire to endurance and sustainability. But progress is difficult to sustain when we face multiple threats that reverse decades of development gains in a matter of hours or days.

The French response to COVID-19: intrinsic difficulties at the interface of science, public health and policy

Jean-Paul Moatti

Former Chief Executive Officer of the French Research Institute for Development (IRD), Professor Emeritus, Aix-Marseille University, and member of the Independent Group of Scientists for the GSDR

28 April 2020

Faced with criticisms, French authorities claim that their policy towards the pandemic has been evidence-based—they appointed an advisory board of 11 scientists to help manage the crisis.

Power in a pandemic - why energy access matters during coronavirus

Damilola Ogunbiyi

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Co-Chair of UN Energy, and CEO of SEforAll

14 April 2020

840 million people – predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa – are living without access to electricity. Reliable, affordable electricity is needed to keep people connected at home and to run life-saving equipment in hospitals.

Big data platforms for a global pandemic

Huadong Guo

Chairman of Academic Committee, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Member of the 10 Member Group for the Technology Facilitation Mechanism

3 April 2020

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a Chinese Academy of Sciences program known as Big Earth Data Science Engineering (CASEarth) began efforts to organize data and information towards curbing the outbreak. CASEarth coordinated a national effort to develop a global big data platform for coronavirus (

Ancestral wisdom and COVID-19

Myrna Kay Cunningham Kain

President of the Fund for Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin American and the Caribbean (FILAC)

28 April 2020

For our peoples, health, life and Good Living are a complex interdependent whole that is part of interconnected relational networks, of human communities, social relations and relations with Mother Earth. This proposal raises the need for Intercultural and Inter-scientific Dialogue, in order to face the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calibrating the COVID-19 Crisis Response to the SDGs

Kevin P. Gallagher, William R. Kring, and Jose Antonio Ocampo

Gallagher and Ocampo are members of the UN Committee on Development Policy. Kring is assistant director of the Global Development Policy Center

14 April 2020

A global and multilateral response is needed that attacks the virus and puts the global economy back on a path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement.

The unbearable slowness of sustainability

Eeva Furman

Director of the Environmental Policy Centre at the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, and Member of the Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report

3 April 2020

Open science and collaboration have played an important role when combatting the Covid-19. A vaccine would be a major advancement in research, but from the perspective of sustainable development, other issues need to be tackled as well. This calls upon interdisciplinary research and sustainability science, writes Eeva Furman in her Ratkaisuja blog

We are all in this together? More than you think

Marc Fleurbaey

Professor in Economics and Humanistic Studies, Professor of Public Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and member of the UN Committee for Development Policy

28 April 2020

This crisis is a moment of reckoning. We need to rethink the way globalization, lean stocks and just-in-time management principles were making us all vulnerable to a shock in any part of the stretched-out supply chain.

International Science Council launches COVID-19 Global Science Portal

Heide Hackmann

Chief Executive Officer, International Science Council (ISC)

14 April 2020

The International Science Council has launched the COVID-19 Global Science Portal in response to this rapidly changing global emergency.

Does one size fit all? Realistic alternatives for COVID-19 response in low-income countries

Amanda Glassman

Executive Vice President of the Center for Global Development (CGD), CEO of CGD Europe, and Senior Fellow, and Member of the Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report

3 April 2020

While covid-19 is a global crisis, the strategies for tacking it may vary significantly from country to country. Amanda Glassman, together with Kalipson Chalkidou and Richard Sullivan, reflect on the challenges and options for low-income countries in this 2 April 2020 blog.

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