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The impact of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Netherlands
The Coronavirus has a major impact on society. While we are trying to control the virus, the long-term effects of the 'intelligent lockdown' are still uncertain. However, it is clear that the COVID-19 crisis has consequences for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An analysis published by the United Nations in March shows that the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic affect almost all SDGs, highlighting issues of poverty, inequality, welfare and health.
Household consumption has fallen sharply, unemployment has risen and the crisis seems to increase existing inequalities. Disruptions in business operations and supply chains affect almost every sector and entrepreneurial confidence has fallen sharply, while society expects companies to contribute to the crisis response. Government support measures result in huge deficits and public debts.
With this SDG Barometer we aim to provide insight into the above mentioned effects and what these imply for achieving the SDGs in the Netherlands. We base our observations on data, and visualise trends and developments graphically. Through interviews with organizations and companies, we aim to offer guidance and perspectives for action.
SDG 1: Poverty is increasing through economic recession and rising unemployment. Government support packages have up to now absorbed the worst blows. Unemployment has risen sharply from March to June 2020: 131,000 people have lost their jobs. That is the same number of people living in Zwolle, the Netherlands’ 19th largest municipality.
SDG 3: The impact of COVID-19 on people's health and well-being is considerable with upwards of 50,000 registered infections, which is higher than the number of residents of a municipality like Middelburg or Zutphen. Excess mortality was more than 9,000 in the first 9 weeks, making the virus worse than a regular flu outbreak. It is also causing people psychological problems as a result of anxiety, worrying and stress.
SDG 5: Women are more often exposed to COVID-19 at work: no less than 84% of employees in the healthcare and well-being sector are female. Moreover, women are more likely to become (partially) unemployed because they more often have flexible contracts and work in the informal economy. Experts think that they have a higher risk of domestic violence, although this is not borne out in official statistics.
SDG 8: Lower consumer spending and the disruption of trade have impacted nearly all sectors, although a number of sectors have been hit substantially harder. Unemployment is rising sharply and government support measures for companies and private citizens are leading to enormous government deficits and public debt. The fall in consumer confidence of 20 points between March (-2) and April (-22) is the largest one ever recorded.
SDG 10: COVID-19 is claiming more victims among older people and excess mortality is significantly higher among people with a non-Western migration background (47%) than among people of native Dutch heritage (38%). Young people are more likely to lose their jobs.
SDG 13: CO2-emissions in the Netherlands was on average 8.7% lowering the first quarter of 2020 in the first quarter of 2019, but is currently again showing an upward trend.
SDG 16: The number of incidents of cybercrime increased from 408 in December to 1,869 in May, while the total number of registered crimes fell. Public debt increased sharply.
SDG 17: Support for the coalition government in the Netherlands has increased from 38.9% in January to 48.6% in June and Dutch people are relatively satisfied with the solidarity shown between EU member states during the crisis.
Emma Lok (Director of strategy and communication of WOMEN Inc.) about SDG 5: Gender equality
'They have to give up hours or their flexible contracts are not renewed. Moreover, jobs in the informal economy are often not covered by government schemes.'
Head of Corporate Sustainability, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 54 24
Jan Willem Velthuijsen
Chief Economist, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)62 248 32 93