As the world slowly emerges from the pandemic, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs remain the guiding framework for global development. The Decade of Action shall reflect on the efforts and adjustments needed to make good on the promise of the SDGs between now and 2030 and the lessons learned from COVID-19 will inevitably shape these reflections.
In that context, we call on to the importance of tackling Goal 10 on Reducing Inequalities as the best framework to promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all. Inequalities can take different forms and, social exclusion is one of them. It is necessary to ensure equal opportunity for all individuals and groups taking part in our society, independently of their characteristics, backgrounds or identity. All around the world, socio-economic status has conditioned individuals’ ability to protect their health and withstand the economic consequences of COVID-19. Unequal access to healthcare, housing, remote work or education, livelihood support and social protection has placed certain communities – many identifiable as migrants, racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities – in a position of heightened vulnerability to the pandemic, with disproportionate loss of lives and livelihoods. Building back better after COVID-19 and achieving the SDGs will require renewed attention to the social aspects of development, especially those related to education, employment, social protection and health care, as social progress rests on affording every individual in society the opportunity to reach his/her full potential.
The case of migrants is particularly eloquent. As many countries rely on migrant medical and health personnel as front-line workers, and migrant workers make up a disproportionate share of the workforce in sectors that have remained open and active throughout the “global lockdown”, migrants were disproportionately exposed to the health risks posed by the pandemic. Migrants in the informal economy have minimum protection in the face of job loss and reduction in income, and face challenges to access health and social services. While some of the measures implemented to contain the virus have at times worsened the living conditions of migrants, other measures have promoted their inclusion in the health and socioeconomic response to COVID-19, ensuring that no one is left behind.