Fighting poverty amidst coronavirus requires unity for recovery

Perhaps COVID-19 has reminded many of us about the urgent need to put ourselves out there, to get involved, no matter the circumstances. World Vision teams are currently among the front-line workers ensuring families in developing countries have the supplies and support they need to weather this pandemic. For what started as a health crisis is quickly becoming a humanitarian crisis as well.

The pandemic has also compelled us to work together, as individuals, communities and nations. We’re fighting a deadly virus with zero respect for political or economic boundaries. COVID-19 has reminded us of the wisdom of a mandate of international cooperation around clear sets of objectives.

When it comes to the coronavirus, the world’s shared objectives aren’t neatly organized in any single formal document as we are responding as we learn. This is new for everyone. Yet we know instinctively what needs doing. Save lives. Stop the spread of illness. Care for the most vulnerable among us. Educate the public to protect themselves and others. And build stronger systems for the future.

These goals, that we currently share with so many other countries, are unratified – but critical. They were forced on us by this unexpected lethal virus. To move forward and recover globally we must be bold and unified.

A call for unified action

Years before the first news about COVID-19 appeared on our news feeds, there was already another set of global goals in place. They’re the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.

While the coronavirus can impact our bodies, the Sustainable Development Goals provide a north star for our hearts and minds.

The SDGs bring to life a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. They’re an urgent call for unified action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that eliminating poverty can only be accomplished through strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth. All while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

It can seem like a tall order, unless we work as one.

Many of us have shared those kinds of sentiments recently, as we reinvent new ways to maintain harmony in our homes during social distancing. We’ve spread them through social media, as we reach out to friends and loved ones around the world. “We’re all in this together,” we say. 

Staying the SDG course 

The Sustainable Development Goals may now be more challenging to achieve by the 2030 deadline with the devastating complications of COVID-19 factored in. But achieving them is more critical than ever before. As the world battles to beat the coronavirus, doubling down on our mutual alignment on the SDGs could serve everyone very well. Through the UN’s Sustainable Development framework, organizations were already rowing in the same direction as groups, governments and communities in nearly every time zone. And we’ve been working to ensure all our World Vision offices – from Albania to Zimbabwe – are headed for the same shore. 

Marketing “Big Vision” alignment

World Vision launched this summer its first ever global awareness campaign and is affirming some of our biggest, boldest goals. The global brand campaign 'Hidden Hero’ COVID 19 Response, unites all our offices across the globe and activates global audiences to take action. The campaign is a call for ordinary people around the world to unleash the hero hidden in each of us—and it honours the hidden heroes who have come before us, each playing their important role along the way. The campaign, which nods to our organization’s 70-year history, has received great results with its flagship video becoming one of our top ten performing videos of all time. We are targeting to reach 72 million people including 36 million children in more than 70 countries with COVID-19 support. Our response teams have reached over 50% of that goal to date. 

Our greatest desire is to impact the world’s most vulnerable people, no matter what they are facing. World Vision already reaches a new person with clean water every 10 seconds and three more schools a day with clean water. As a ‘Big Vision’ goal, we now plan to support the Rwandan government’s ambitious goal, to reach 100 per cent water access to the country’s people by 2024. 

Over the last five years, 89 per cent of the severely malnourished children we treated made a full recovery. As a ‘Big Vision’ goal, we are striving to ensure complete recoveries for every child we treat for severe malnutrition. These may seem like audacious goals. What if we can’t deliver – especially with the effects of COVID-19 to surmount? 

As with Canada’s response to the virus, we are not doing this alone. We are one of many charities and not for profits channeling the unifying power of the Sustainable Development 2030 Goals for impact along with the governments, groups and communities backing them. We must all bring the same unified response to the coronavirus to the Sustainable Development Goals – now and in the future. We are #strongertogether.


Author: Kim Fletcher

Kim Fletcher is Vice President of Philanthropy Marketing and Customer Experience with World Vision Canada and a member of the CMA Not-for-Profit Council.

For more on World Vision’s COVID-19 response, click here.

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