The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is characterized by its high infection and death potential. As a result, this pandemic has imposed severe dangers to human health, society, and the long-term viability of cities (Ikram et al., 2020; Elavarasan et al., 2021). Since the first case was announced on 30 December 2019, the number of confirmed cases has increased at an alarming exponential pace throughout the globe (Huang et al., 2020). As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the newly discovered infectious coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) a global public health emergency (Li et al., 2020). COVID-19 confirmed cases had surpassed 200 million by the start of September 2021, with over 4 million deaths globally (worldometer, 2021a). As of 8 October 2021, Egypt had the fourth-highest number of confirmed cases in Africa, with 309,934 confirmed cases (worldometer, 2021b). This sparked enormous pressure on governments to find strategies to effectively prevent and restrict the virus spread and the negative associated consequences (World Health Organization, 2020a).
The United Nations (UN) announced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be met over a fifteen-year period, beginning January 1, 2016, and ending December 31, 2030. The 2030 Agenda is a set of 17 SDGs with 169 objectives aimed at making the world more sustainable, resilient, and prosperous (Mouneer, 2021). Cheng et al. (2022) investigated the sustainability performance of 210 cities in China in 2016 adopting advanced Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) framework. The analysis was based on produced, human, and natural capital, as well as considering heterogeneities in economy, social, and environmental conditions across these cities.
The COVID-19 jeopardizes the growth prospects of developing countries to achieving the SDGs by 2030 (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2020). This problem can be seen as a major setback for the core goals of sustainable development, which are inclusiveness and leaving no one behind (Runde et al., 2020). It is vital to re-establish global unity and common commitment in order to revive momentum toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Barbier and Burgess, 2020). In this regard, the UN has established a strategy in an attempt to combat the epidemic. The plan calls on the world's most powerful countries to take bold legislative steps and provide technical and financial help to the world's poorest and most vulnerable citizens (UN News, 2020).
The COVID-19 epidemic has proven to be associated with ramifications ranging from public health to economy. According to the “Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020”, a pandemic outbreak in 2020 would push 71 million people back into poverty, rising the worldwide poverty rate for the first time since 1998. Health care disruptions and restricted access to food and nutrition services have put the refugees, immigrants, aged, and handicapped in vulnerable health and socioeconomic situations. The number of children under the age of five and maternal deaths was expected to rise in 2020. Accordingly, different isolation measures have been implemented by countries all around the world (Chaudhry et al., 2020). These measures have wreaked havoc on the global economy and trade. There was a recovery in international commerce due to the lifting of the embargo and the acceleration of economic activity. However, experts have warned that any economic recovery might be hampered by the ongoing epidemic (World Health Organization, 2020b).
This virus has a debilitating effect on the labor supply and the economy's productive capacity. Human, capital, and natural resources are necessary for the production of products. Therefore, a drop in the productivity of one area certainly hinders the achievement of the other sector’s objectives. Furthermore, the prevention measures such as school closures and laws that encourage workers to work remotely might increase worker absenteeism (Keogh-Brown, 2014). However, no rigorous study of the performance of online work platforms in sustaining productivity had been conducted. Based on the functioning of global supply chains, online platforms will be unable to maintain the amount of economic activity before the epidemic (Ivanov, 2020). Furthermore, the lockdowns and quarantine measures, which were imposed from the outbreak start until the virus stabilizes would increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss. Examples of these measures are avoiding public transportation and international travel, avoiding entertainment events, and limiting shopping to essentials (Chakraborty and Maity, 2020). Accordingly, it is essential to reduce the negative economic effect of pandemic outbreak reactions despite the paramount importance of public health (Xiao and Torok, 2020). Furthermore, pursuing green public procurement not only encourages economic growth but also benefits the environment (Nundy et al., 2021).
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need of implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development (Coccia, 2021). The actions that guided the achievement of the SDGs are critical to a faster recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic. The goal of sustainable development is to balance the social, economic, and environmental objectives (Clark and Dickson, 2003; Elliott, 2012). In this regard, the 17 SDGs were created to develop a unified path that contributes to the current and future wellbeing of the population (Sachs, 2012; Desa, 2016). All African nations were considered to be lagging on SDG objectives, and this epidemic will reverse the achieved progress (Ekwebelem et al., 2021). The Egyptian government has taken several actions to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on human health. Establishing a curfew, Social distance, delegating isolation sections in health institutions, and permitting work/study from home are examples of these strategies (Marzouk et al., 2021). As a result, COVID-19 has slowed Egypt's progress toward achieving the SDGs (Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, 2021).
Some research efforts were exerted to study the impact of COVID-19 on SDGs. Elavarasan et al. (2022) proposed a hybrid qualitative and quantitative framework to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Sustainable Development Goals by examining its effect in every goal. The quantification was performed in terms of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals with the aid of ranking methodology. Ranjbari et al. (2021) suggested five research directions for sustainable development corresponding to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) post COVID-19 are provided including; 1) sustainability action plan considering COVID-19 implications: refining sustainability goals and targets and developing measurement framework; 2) making the most of sustainability transition opportunities in the wake of COVID-19, 3) innovative solutions for economic resilience towards sustainability post COVID-19, 4) in-depth analysis of the COVID-19 long-term effects on social sustainability; and (5) expanding quantitative research to harmonize the COVID-19-related sustainability research.
Another research study was undertaken by Wang and Huang (2021) to comprehensively examine articles linked to the influence of COVID-19 on sustainability in the Web of Science database using bibliometric tools. The findings revealed that the research was dominated by developed countries although the epidemic offered more severe obstacles to achieving sustainable development in underdeveloped nations than industrialized countries. Developed nations were dedicated to investigating the long-term education viability but developing countries had focused on economic viability during the pandemic. The cluster analysis also revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had negative consequences for 17 SDGs, but the pandemic might potentially provide opportunities for 14 SDGs. Finally, the researchers offered appropriate ideas for attaining SDGs in the post-epidemic period.
Many research studies have investigated COVID-19 emergency management and epidemic prevention and control techniques. Mathematical and statistical models have been utilized for modeling disease outbreaks to help in disaster planning and response decision-making. In addition, these models have been critical in designing risk management methods that reduce the spread of disease outbreaks and other undesirable consequences, such as shortages of vital resources and economic downturns. System dynamics simulation and modeling approach is a holistic method for mapping interactions in complex systems, including nonlinearities, feedback loops, and delays (Edaibat et al., 2017). For instance, Beigi (2020) developed a system dynamic model to study the correlation between the SDGs and COVID-19 preventative strategies. This novel qualitative approach reinvigorated debates about the future of SDGs amid the crisis. Besides, it provided a powerful mental representation for decision-makers to find leverage points that aid in preventing long-term disruptive effects of the health crisis on people, environment, and economy. The research highlighted the necessity of conducting more quantitative and qualitative scientific research to quantify the importance of attaining the SDGs objectives in individual nations based on continuing lessons learned from the health crisis.
Jia et al. (2022) focused on the harm COVID-19 poses to human health and society. The authors applied system dynamics to create a prevention and control model that incorporated material supply, public opinion dissemination, public awareness, scientific and technological research, staggering work shifts, and warning effect (of law/policy). To uncover relationships between subsystems and investigate the major elements impacting social benefit, causal loop analysis was employed. Different scenarios were also dynamically simulated to find the best combination modes. The following were the key findings: 1) the low supervision mode would cause a lag in material delivery and a superimposed effect on social benefit, and 2) the strong supervision mode offered many benefits, including the ability to minimize online public opinion propagation, concealment, false declaration rates, increase government credibility, and social benefit. However, in the middle and late stages, the effect of intensive monitoring would progressively decrease, necessitating correction. The findings could serve as a theoretical foundation for bettering epidemic prevention and control strategies.
Sy et al. (2020) developed a system dynamic modeling method that encompassed connections, feedbacks, and delays. The effectiveness of different measures in reducing infection and the consequent economic burden was studied and appraised. According to preliminary modeling, the most successful methods focused on preventing viral exposure in the first place; expanding healthcare capacity merely delayed the ultimate system collapse since its efficacy presupposed that individual became sick first. The research suggested the application of system dynamics to get a better knowledge of other elements of the system, such as the optimum method to handle hospital operations in the event of a pandemic. Furthermore, it recommended the utilization of other modeling approaches (e.g., optimization modeling) for resource allocation, particularly when vital medical supplies and commodities were scarce. It may also be used to choose amongst viable policy options and operationalize their execution based on several competing stakeholder goals.
There have been few research studies on the application of system dynamics to the COVID-19 epidemic. To address this research gap, this research proposes developing a web-based simulation model to analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SDGs in Egypt using system dynamics. This model is intended to provide decision-makers with an evidence-based judgment that assists the government in formulating effective and equitable policies and actions in the pandemic era. Deeper analysis and evaluation frameworks are critical for supporting decision-making for risk management strategies and transmission control measures that take into account the interconnections across participating sectors.