This year's edition of The Sustainable Development Report, published annually, is now available. At the same time as we hear that the world is in trouble with the coronavirus, we also hear that the financial world is booming. Also, we hear that carbon dioxide emissions are down due to less traffic and less production, and the natural environment is returning to its former glory due to fewer tourists. But what about the overall picture? Since the SDGs launched for the first time, the report shows that overall progress has fallen for the first time.
Contrary to the surge in stock prices and the seemingly bubble-like rise of cryptocurrencies, the real economy does not seem to be improving. For the first time, the most fundamental SDGs, the number of poor people, increased. The reason for this is, perhaps unsurprisingly, that economic activity has been curtailed, and unemployment has increased. The less affluent are not involved in the bustle of the financial world and can only work in jobs that sell out their time. For example, many waitresses working in restaurants will have lost their jobs.
According to this report, 90% of the world's population lives within the range of a 3G or better quality mobile phone network. There are Android smartphones available for as little as $100 and very cheap internet connections in developing countries such as Indonesia, so even those who are generally considered to be poor are connected to the internet. This means that many people have access to remote work and remote education. For example, there are many platforms for teaching English and other languages online, and I know people who signed up and got more jobs than they could handle.
But in reality, they either don't know about such platforms or are hesitant for some reason. Why can't or won't they become a nomadic worker like many in Bali or gain new skills remotely?