COVID-19 as a Global Challenge: Towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Future
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COVID-19 is a global challenge that demands researchers, policy makers, and governments address multiple dimensions which go far beyond the implications of this pandemic for health and wellbeing. Just as the UN Sustainable Development Goals call for focus on the connections between development policy sectors, the pandemic has exposed the complex global interdependencies that underpin economies and highlighted fault lines in societal structures that perpetuate ethnic, economic, social, and gender inequalities. Here, we highlight the pandemic’s emerging potential consequences for achieving sustainable development with respect to the six global challenge areas we collectively address at the UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund:1 food systems; education; cities and sustainable infrastructure; security, protracted conflict, refugee crises, and forced displacement; environmental resilience; and global health. As the immediate health consequences of the pandemic unfold and begin to be superseded by the impact of public health containment measures, we call for a refocusing of research and action not only to mitigate these impacts but to build sustainability and strengthened resilience into future recovery.