The relation of COVID-19 to the UN sustainable development goals: implications for sustainability accounting, management and policy research

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Purpose: This paper aims to discuss the relation of the COVID-19 pandemic to sustainable development and, in particular, the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). In so doing, the author highlights how sustainability accounting, management and policy (SAMP) research can help to build a more sustainable post-COVID-19 era. Design/methodology/approach: The motivation behind this research note is to allow SAMP-research to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. To do so, in the first step, the author conducts an initial factual analysis to identify patterns of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the SDGs and has emphasized the interconnectedness of the SDGs. On this basis, the author develops a research agenda for SAMP-research. Findings: The author argues that the COVID-19 crisis not only relates to the SDGs but is part of the research field of sustainable development itself. The pandemic has been found to severely threaten the achievement of the SDGs, while opportunities concerning selected SDGs can also be found. In this regard, the author identifies patterns, concerning which types of SDGs opportunities or respectively, threats exist. Practical implications: The patterns identified for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic highlight for which SDGs additional efforts will be needed for the achievement of the respective SDGs. Social implications: The analysis emphasizes that numerous SDGs can help to alleviate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and of potential future pandemics. Originality/value: This research note is the first to analyze the threats and also the opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic presents for the achievement of the SDGs. It is also the first to not only examine direct effects but acknowledge the interconnected nature of the SDGs in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)877-888
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 26.08.2021

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