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ICRA director Damià Barceló and experts from around the world warn that the Russo-Ukrainian armed conflict makes it impossible to move towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Friday, 04 November 2022

The Russo-Ukrainian armed conflict is a dramatic world event. Apart from the loss of life, the current conflict has an enormous impact on the environment, economy and society. The conflict has triggered a wave of events with global implications, especially in energy and food, with a global recession and possible stagflation, unprecedented since 1970. The escalation of this conflict is posing serious threats to the achievement of the Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN), not only in the countries directly involved in the conflict, but also in other countries, especially those that are more vulnerable to the economic crisis.

The manifesto, recently published as an editorial in the magazine Geography and Sustainability, The Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict impact will push back the sustainable development goals , it is subscribed by six international experts, among which stands out Damià Barceló , director of theICRA – NEAR Girona, Paulo Pereira , Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania, Wenwu Zhao , Beijing Normal University, Lyudmyla Symochko , Uzhhorod National University, Ukraine, Miguel Inacio , Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania, and Igor Bogunovic , Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb, University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Experts analyze step by step the impacts of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict on the biophysical SDGs, the social SDGs, the economic SDGs and the alliance needed to achieve the SDGs set by the UN .

The impact of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict on the SDGs is variable. The Biodiversity ODS – soil degradation, climate change, loss of diversity – are greatly affected at regional level (Russia, Ukraine, surrounding countries and the European Union). The social SDGs – poverty, loss of life, food, segregation, vulnerability, health – are affected at the local level (eg SDG 3 on health and well-being; SDG 4 on quality education) and global level (eg zero hunger SDG 2).

Finally, the Russo-Ukrainian armed conflict has implications at a global level in terms of the economic ODS – crisis, energy prices, unemployment, sanctions, inequality, inflation. The impacts of the ongoing conflict are growing in the destroyed cities, with water and sanitation infrastructure destroyed and pollution running rampant from explosions, within the cities and from forest fires. Uncertainties multiply in the Black Sea, to give an example, which affects Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Russia, with more than 3,000 dolphins dead. Peace is essential to achieving the UN’s 2030 SDGs.

With the establishment of the ODS (Sustainable Development Goals) of the UN, the fight for a better and more prosperous world for everyone, where everyone can live with differences, is expressed. For many countries, COVID-19 slowed the pace of achieving the 2030 goals. Also, the world was already struggling before COVID-19.

However, political disputes and armed conflicts constrain international coordination and cooperation for sustainable development.

In recent decades, conflicts or wars in Libya, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and other countries had a significant impact on regional and global development.

With the emergence of this conflict, the ability of several nations to achieve the SDGs set for the year 2030 may become unattainable.

The conflict slowed the post-COVID-19 recovery and negatively affected the achievement of the regional and global SDGs. Many points in the article are based on new reports that have uncertainties, meaning that the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian armed conflict on the SDGs is still uncertain.

However, there are direct effects that we have to live with now and perhaps years into the future. Peace is the basis of sustainable development. Without peace there will be no SDGs for 2030 or for the future. We need peace for the future of the world.

For more information: Cf. Online version:

About Geography and Sustainability magazine

It aims to serve as a reference point for developing, coordinating and implementing interdisciplinary research and education with the aim of promoting sustainable development through an integrated geography perspective. The journal encourages broader analysis and innovative thinking about global and regional sustainability by connecting and synthesizing the natural and human sciences.

Geography and Sustainability welcomes high-quality, original research articles, review articles, short papers, technical commentaries, perspective articles and editorials on the following topics:

-Geographic processes: interactions with and between water, soil, atmosphere and biosphere and their spatio-temporal variations;

-Human-environmental systems: interactions between humans and the environment, resilience of socio-ecological systems and vulnerability;

-Ecosystem services and human well-being: structure, processes, ecosystem services and their links with human well-being;

-Sustainable development: theory, practice and critical challenges in sustainable development;

-Geodata and sustainability models: geodata and models to support sustainable development and decision-making

Paulo Pereira, Wenwu Zhao, Lyudmyla Symochko, Miguel Inacio, Igor Bogunovic, Damia Barcelo, Editorial: The Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict impact will push back the sustainable development goals, Geography and Sustainability (2022), doi: https://doi. org/10.1016/j.geosus.2022.09.003

Paulo Pereira 1 , Wenwu Zhao 2 , Lyudmyla Symochko 3,4 , Miguel Inacio 1 , Igor Bogunovic 5 , Damià Barceló 6

-1 Environmental Management Laboratory, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania

-2 Faculty of Geographical Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China

-3 Uzhhorod National University, Uzhhorod, Ukraine

-4 Institute of Agroecology and Environmental Management NAAS, Kyiv, Ukraine

-5 Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

-6 Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA-CERCA), Girona, Catalonia, Spain