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The impact of wars on SDGs

Oct 24,2023 - Last updated at Oct 24,2023

No one can ignore the devastating impact that wars have on the world's ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon in Paris in 2015. Unfortunately, wars often unfold ruthlessly, bringing about significant loss and destruction, as well as a massive depletion of economic resources. Wars alter the flow of money and energy significantly, diverting a country's financial resources and human capabilities towards destructive military aspects. This diversion hinders essential sustainable development efforts, including investments in renewable energy sources, environmental preservation and social welfare programs.

Typically, wars conclude with the reconstruction of essential infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, power stations and factories, which have been destroyed. This makes it challenging to promote sustainable practices because infrastructure reconstruction leads to increased resource consumption and the squandering of numerous sustainable development opportunities.

Furthermore, wars add to their crimes by causing environmental damage, including water and soil pollution, the emission of greenhouse gases, and the destruction of ecosystems. These environmental repercussions pose a significant obstacle to achieving sustainability goals for nations. Wars often come with enormous human costs, including the displacement of populations and the loss of precious lives, leading to unparalleled human suffering. These humanitarian crises divert resources away from addressing social and economic inequalities, which are considered fundamental to sustainability.

In addition, wars trigger economic instability, hindering investments in sustainable industries. Companies often delay their sustainable projects due to this uncertainty and the risk of financial losses. War funding typically involves long-term debt, limiting a country's ability to allocate funds for sustainability projects and other social and economic needs.

On a global level, wars disrupt global supply chains and international trade, affecting the availability and pricing of vital resources. This can further complicate sustainability efforts in any country. Moreover, scientific and technological innovation is often redirected towards military advancements during times of conflict, diverting talents and resources away from sustainable technologies and research.

Mitigating the impact of war on sustainability goals requires a multifaceted approach involving short-term and long-term strategies. Undoubtedly, the most effective way to address the impact of war on sustainability is to prevent conflicts in the first place. This includes diplomatic efforts, conflict resolution and international cooperation. Diplomacy and negotiations can help address the underlying issues that lead to conflicts, with the diplomatic parties leading these efforts being neutral and fair in their proposals. Once conflicts arise, timely and effective peacekeeping efforts can help reduce their impact on sustainability. International organisations, such as the United Nations, must play a crucial role in mediating conflicts and maintaining peace.

After conflicts come to an end, reconstruction and development efforts must prioritise sustainability. This includes rebuilding essential infrastructure with a focus on resilient green technologies, such as renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and environmentally friendly construction practices. Addressing environmental damage resulting from conflicts, including pollution cleanup, ecosystem restoration and implementing sustainable land-use practices, should be expedited.

One of the initiatives that should be made available after conflicts is debt relief for countries severely affected by wars, allowing them to allocate more resources for reconstruction and sustainability. The international community should provide financial and technical support to war-affected countries to help them rebuild. Prioritising education and social services to aid community rebuilding, including efforts to reduce poverty, improve healthcare and promote universal education, is essential for sustainability.

In conclusion, justice and fairness in conflict resolution are not just moral imperatives but practical necessities for achieving lasting peace. When intervening and mediating in conflicts, the process must be conducted fairly and impartially to reduce the likelihood of reprisals and hostile actions resurfacing, paving the way for reconciliation, stability and prosperity.

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