“Our world has the knowledge, capacity and innovation, and if we are ambitious enough, we can muster the resources needed to achieve the [Sustainable Development] Goals.” – statement by SDG Advocate and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana

A strong and resilient infrastructure remains the backbone of thriving communities. It is the driving force to ensure access to sustainable, smart and innovative technologies, and equitable rights to innovation, financial markets and jobs.

In July, we look at the importance of Sustainable Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure as the foundation to build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Look out for the numerous reports that have been or will be released throughout the month.


High-level Political Forum (7-16 July)

High Level Political Forum logoThe 2020 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) remains a key annual review of progress, challenges and lessons learned. The two-week Forum brings together all levels of governments, civil society, businesses and many others to look at how different sectors can advance the SDGs.

Voluntary National ReviewsProgramme  | Special Events

Nelson Mandela International Day and Annual Lecture (18 July)

At 9:00 am EDT on Saturday, 18 July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will deliver the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on International Mandela Day under the theme of “Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A new Social Contract for a New Era,” focusing on inequalities and what needs to be done to address the world’s fragilities and build back better.

On 17 July (11:30 a.m. EDT), two new laureates will be bestowed with the 2020 UN Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, presented every five years, for outstanding contributions to the service of humanity. The virtual recognition ceremony will take place on 20 July (10 a.m. EDT), as part of this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day General Assembly online observance event.

Tune in on UN Web TV to watch the lecture and the commemorative events. Visit a virtual exhibit marking the Day. Promotional materials can be found on a dedicated Trello Board. Please contact us for embargoed information on the laureates.

SDG Media Zone (14-16 July)

The first-ever virtual SDG Media Zone, held on the sidelines of this year’s High-level Political Forum, will feature three unique sessions on solutions, solidarity and sustainability – conversations with world leaders and leading expert voices on the SDGs, vaccine development and human rights.

Watch on  www.un.org/sdgmediazone on 14, 15 and 16 July!

THE Sustainable Development Goals REPORT: 2020

SDG Report 2020 cover

Everything we do during and after this crisis [COVID-19] must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.” – António Guterres Secretary-General, United Nations

The 15-year global effort to improve the lives of people everywhere through the achievement of the 17 Goals by 2030 was already off track by the end of 2019. And now, in only a short period of time, the pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented crisis, causing further disruption to progress, with the world’s poorest and most vulnerable affected the most, says the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020.

Facts and figures


Solar panel in a field

Photo credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank

UN News: What will power the post-pandemic global economic recovery?

The latest Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report shows that investing in renewables “will buy more generation capacity than ever before, and help governments deliver stronger climate action under the Paris Agreement.” UN News looks at the need for recovery plans to be built around low-carbon technologies to avoid a return to fossil fuel-based industries as governments try to kick-start their economies.

Report: Preventing the next pandemic

“To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.” – UN Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen

A new report from UNEP and the International Livestock Research Institute, Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission, warns that further outbreaks will emerge unless governments take active measures to prevent other zoonotic diseases from crossing into the human population. It stresses the urgent need to adopt integrated global human, animal and environmental health expertise and policy.

Report: World Wildlife Crime

For a more in-depth look at the links between the pandemic and the illegal exploitation of wildlife, watch out for the second edition of the World Wildlife Crime Report, published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The report, which will be launched on 10 July, examines why putting an end to such crimes is an essential part of building back better.

The report’s chapter on Pangolins was made available in advance of the launch. Pangolins remain the most trafficked mammal in the world, with seizures of illegal cargo originating in Africa and intended for Asian markets having increased tenfold since 2014.

Media advisory


Report: State of Food Security and Nutrition

Men wearing face masks

Photo: FAO

According to the forthcoming UN report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020, the decades-long decline in hunger in the world has unfortunately ended.

As COVID-19 wreaks havoc in ways that will only become apparent in the months and years to come, the report, which will be launched on 13 July, looks at some of the impacts on food security and nutrition, and provides policy recommendations to prevent cost increases of nutritious foods and ensure access to affordable healthy diets.

For more information please see the media advisory.

UN News: Innovation brewing at Hawaii coffee farm

Woman with a coffee grinder

The visitor’s centre at Kauai Coffee Company in Hawaii was forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic. UN Photo

Innovation and experimentation are helping a coffee farm in the US state of Hawaii to prosper in a competitive market, an approach which has helped the company get through the global COVID-19 pandemic. UN News talks to Fred Cowell, the General Manager of Kauai Coffee Company, which has the largest coffee farm in the country accounting for 25 to 30 per cent of nationwide production in any given year.


Women and girls remain more exposed to the effects of pandemics – economically, socially and health-wise. A new report by the UN Office for Project Services on Infrastructure for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women examines the numerous barriers women and girls face when trying to access basic services – such as education, healthcare, water and sanitation – or economic opportunities.

Download the full report.

The Gambia: Connecting communities and advancing gender equality

UNOPS Gambia

In rural Gambia, many of the roads that link communities with major motorways have been dilapidated and barely accessible. Without these roads, people cannot seek essential services and economic opportunities. In an effort to rebuild the vital roads, more than 200 women have been trained and employed in road construction work – allowing them to lead the development of critical rural infrastructure in their country.

Read the full report.


Report: E-Government Survey

According to the forthcoming biennial UN E-Government Survey, about 66 per cent of countries provided online transactional services in 2020, with the biggest increases in Africa and Oceania, where online transactional services grew by 80 and 75 per cent respectively since the last Survey.

The report, to be released on 10 July, says that the pandemic triggered the adoption of new and innovative digital tools by governments, including e-services for medical goods, virtual doctor visits, self-diagnosis as well as COVID-19 tracking and tracing apps. Despite the progress, a vast number of people still don’t have access to online services.

See the E-Government ranking of countries.

Other Events

11 July | World Population Day

Lockdowns and major disruptions to vital services may have left millions of women and girls exposed to gender-based violence, female gential mutilation, child marriages and unintended pregnancies, says the UN Population Fund. This World Population Day, the agency will continue to raise awareness and highlight the need to safeguard hard fought gains in women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health services and rights.  

15 July | World Youth Skills Day | Reimagining Ocean Innovation Event

More than 1 in 6 young people are out of work due to COVID-19. World Youth Skills Day will focus on the importance of equipping young people with relevant skills for employment and entrepreneurship, empowering them to tackle current and future global challenges.

The UN Department of Global Communications, the McKinsey.org and partners will host a conversation, called Reimaging Ocean Innovation, with experts and global youth innovators on catalyzing innovation into scalable solutions. Register for the event here.