The COVID-19 pandemic has had an extreme effect on the consumer products industry. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting the worst economic crisis since the 1930's The Great Depression55. In 2015, 734 million people - 10% of the world's population - lived in extreme poverty (under $1.90 per day). This number is in fact expected to increase by at least a further 70 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic fallout, partially due to a huge increase in unemployment rates worldwide56. Although recent years have seen a decrease in global unemployment rates (from 6.4% in 2000 to 5.6% in 2017), COVID-19 has disrupted a massive number of lives around the globe56. Despite national and global efforts to provide a socio-economic response to COVID-19, nearly HALF of the global workforce is at risk of losing its livelihood during the pandemic according to the International Labour Organization (ILO)56. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, 400 Million job losses were expected by the UN. The manufacturing industry, specifically, has suffered some of the worst economic losses during the pandemic56. (Facts and figures sourced from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2020.)
Not only are the rising poverty levels, especially in medium-earning countries, leading to economic insecurity for hundreds of millions of people, but it also makes sense that this increase in poverty will lead to more child labour as parents in impoverished families try and use any means they can to earn money. This is especially an issue because the pandemic has led to children’s education being disrupted. 90% of all students globally were out of school during school closures due to the pandemic, but remote learning remains out of reach for more than 500 million students worldwide56. Furthermore, environmentally, not only is water consumption high, but water pollution is a massive issue - over 80% of human wastewater is released into rivers and seas without proper treatment or removal of pollution56. This also makes it crucial that consumers make sustainable choices when purchasing from companies, ensuring that their environmental footprint and indirect pollution levels remain minimal.
Moreover, while there is still financial flow to developing countries, it dropped drastically even before the pandemic - from $420 Billion in 2017 to $271 Billion in 201856. What is more, these numbers are expected to decrease drastically under a global recession, which is a big circular issue because the COVID-19 pandemic has launched the world into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression and it is the developing countries and populations in need that are suffering through poverty and unemployment the most as a result of this recession. Combined with a drop in resource flows to developing nations, this provides a major setback in sustainable economics. In 2020, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) around the globe is expected to fall by up to 40%, partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic financial crises around the world56. Remittances are also projected to fall to a great extent, which serve as an "economic lifeline" for many poor households in middle- and low-income countries and would be devastating to those in need56. (Facts and figures sourced from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2020.)
The pandemic has pushed countries around the globe into financial crises and is making it harder to gain true traction for global development. In these times, global partnerships to achieve global sustainable development are more important than ever, so that the world can overcome the devastation caused by COVID-19 in all economic sectors. In its official 2020 update, the UN perfectly states the breadth of this issue and the significance and urgence in working together to rebuild the economy and society: "As COVID-19 continues to spread, global financial markets have experienced great losses and intense volatility, and more than $100 billion in capital has flowed out of emerging markets since the outbreak, the largest outflow ever recorded.
World trade is expected to plunge by between 13 and 32 per cent in 202056. Strengthening multilateralism and global partnerships is more important than ever before. The global nature of the pandemic requires the participation of all governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and people throughout the world.". We must therefore ensure that our choices have a positive socio-economic and environmental impact, not just locally, but globally as well. By shopping local and spending money at brands and businesses that are completely sustainable, using a verifying information tool such as Sustainable Life App, is a major, yet simple way in which each one of us can do our part to support the struggling economy and society during this pandemic.