The use of nuclear weapons, whether intentionally, by accident or due to miscalculation, brings about catastrophic consequences that threaten the fulfilment of the SDGs. The TPNW, which calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons, reinforces the implementation of the SDGs.
SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Over two billion people could be at risk of famine following even a limited nuclear war. Resultant massive fires would release soot that blocks warmth and light from the sun, cooling the earth and causing crops to fail. Regions already suffering food and water shortages would be the most badly-hit. Nuclear famine would cause mass displacement and create refugee camps all over the African continent.
SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Detonating nuclear weapons cause immediate health effects such as burns and deafness. Medical services would be completely destroyed, or overwhelmed by the sheer demand of people seeking medical assistance. Outbreaks of diseases such as radiation sickness, cholera, typhus, malaria, plague and even Ebola, and also various skin conditions, would overwhelm vulnerable areas.
SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Radiation emanating from a nuclear weapons attack would disproportionately harm women and girls. Female atomic bombing survivors have suffered discrimination and stigma due to fears about problems with reproduction.
SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
A 2019 study by leading climate scientists found that a limited nuclear war could also cause a dramatic decline in precipitation – so much so that China and India could receive no rain for nearly ten years. In addition, nuclear waste contamination at nuclear weapons facilities threaten nearby water sources and a nuclear weapon detonation would contaminate water supplies.
SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
That only a few states that possess nuclear weapons can threaten the safety and security of the entire world is inherently inequal. Indigenous peoples and land have been disproportionately harmed by nuclear weapons testing.
SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
There will be no adequate humanitarian response capacity in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear weapons detonation in a populated area. A nuclear weapon blast would level a city and nuclear fires would rapidly coalesce, burning such city to completion. Historically, nuclear weapon targets have been cities and communities.
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Even just a limited nuclear war would cause significant climate disruption worldwide, which includes stratospheric ozone depletion. A more expansive nuclear war could result in global temperatures plummeting up to 10°C, bringing a severe ice age that could end all human life.
SDG 14: Conserve the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
A limited nuclear war would reduce net primary productivity in oceans by 5% to 15% and could cause a drop in global ocean temperatures of one to three degrees Celsius.
SDG 15: Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation; and halt biodiversity loss
In addition to the long-lasting impacts of radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are numerous reports of hazardous contamination at nuclear weapons production facilities and testing sites. A limited nuclear war could result in a net primary productivity drop of 15-30% on land.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
The continued existence and modernisation of nuclear arsenals, and their increasing likelihood of use, poses a clear threat to peace. The TPNW promotes justice by requiring victim assistance and environmental remediation for people and places harmed by nuclear weapons use and testing.
The Treaty promotes the rule of law by strengthening the international legal disarmament architecture and requiring national legal implementation of the treaty by all states parties.
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