Traditional methods of scholarly publishing and communication are ineffective in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has demonstrated that, in times of need, the global research community can activate and pool its knowledge and resources to collaborate on solving problems. The use of innovative Web-based technologies, including open source software, data-sharing archives, open collaboration methods, and the liberation of thousands of relevant research articles from proprietary sources show us that the fundamental components of a fully open system are readily available, technologically efficient and cost-effective. If we are to achieve the SDGs by 2030, systematic reform and explicit adoption of open scholarship strategies at scale is necessary. We propose that the United Nations and parallel entities take a position of leadership by creating or funding an organisation or federated alliance of organisations to implement these reforms.