The World Bank has published the 2020 Atlas for Sustainable Development. The atlas aims to expand understanding about the SDGs through interactive storytelling and innovative data visualizations.
A glaring omission in the Atlas is the lack of any mention of alcohol or alcohol policy. Not even in SDG 3 where target 3.5 specifically mentions alcohol prevention and despite the well documented impact alcohol has on health systems in particular and sustainable development in general.

The World Bank recently published their 2020 Atlas for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unfortunately omitting alcohol from the report entirely, not even in Goal 3 on health, despite the well documented impact of alcohol on health and other SDGs.

The Atlas is supposed to highlight trends for selected targets within each goal. Where data is available, it also highlights the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SDGs.

Alcohol is an obstacle to achieving 14 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 54 of 169 targets. It is a major obstacle to sustainable human development.

Movendi International has published a report detailing state-of-the-art evidence on how alcohol hinders reaching the SDGs by 2030.

Some basic facts from the book: 

  • Alcohol is jeopardizing human capital, undermining economic productivity, destroying the social fabric and burdening health systems.
  • Alcohol kills 3 million people worldwide every year.
  • That means: Every 10 seconds a human being dies because of alcohol.
  • Worldwide, alcohol is responsible for 7.2% of all premature mortality.
  • Alcohol harms young people disproportionately. Among people between the ages of 15 and 49, alcohol is in fact the number one risk factor for death and disability, accounting for 10% of all deaths in this age group.

Alcohol has also been documented to fuel the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Alcohol use weakens the immune system.
  • Alcohol is a risk factor for NCDs which increase risk of severe COVID-19 or death from the virus.
  • Alcohol harm burdens healthcare systems and emergency services which are overburdened due to the pandemic.

This omission is a missed opportunity to expand understanding of how alcohol harm is a cross-cutting problem affecting many SDGs and alcohol’s effect in exacerbating COVID-19 burden.

For further reading

Prioritizing Action On Alcohol For Health And Development


World Bank Blogs: “The 2020 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: Stories and insights through innovative visuals

The World Bank: “Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020

The World Bank, Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020: “3 GOOD HEALTH AND WELL BEING Global health amid a pandemic