The global COVID-19 health and economic crisis compels us to act in the short-term—in the here and now. We can’t look away from the human health consequences without giving our best efforts to lessen the suffering of those infected.

Multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and IMF have abruptly retooled and turned their focus completely toward this new global challenge, making sweeping changes in their agenda, engineering relief from debt service, and making substantial new investments in disaster response.

However, poor nations, including those not yet experiencing high infection rates, will find it much more difficult to find the resources to climb out of this predicament. Low- and middle-income nations will benefit from multilateral assistance, but as infection rates rise, these nations may be disproportionately affected since 93 percent of the world’s informal employment is in emerging and developing countries.

Of course, we have no choice but to act. Yet what happens when the crisis is over? There will likely be another Cassandra-like report which foreshadows the next crisis, begging our future selves to act in our own self-interest and to invest in solutions to problems that will confront us soon enough. Yet we rarely act to forestall or lessen the next crisis.

Yet, buried in those not quite dusty post-mortem reports is a guidebook that shows us the way to serve both our short-term and long-term needs: to invest in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 17 SDGs provide a pathway for us to “build back better” after the COVID-19 crisis, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. These global goals urge us to address challenges in poverty, health, inequality, and many other areas, while vowing to leave no one behind, with a deadline of 2030.

Read the full article about investing in the SDGs to address the current crisis by Mahmoud Mohieldin and Michael Kelleher at Brookings.