SDG 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
Has global humanity ever been more focused on health? The pandemic did it. Sooner or later
health and the pandemic find their way into almost every conversation and dominate the news.
While many of us take health somewhat for granted, COVID19 has burst that bubble and shown
us how fragile health can be.
The lack of decent health affects us in so many ways, limiting our human potential, our ability to
learn and accomplish our goals, and to care adequately for ourselves and loved ones. COVID19
has unmercifully unmasked gaps, in some cases craters, in worldwide healthcare systems. Their
inadequacy is there for all to see: accessibility, coverage and cost issues predominantly. The
lack of healthcare, like so many other issues of social justice, is both a product and a producer of
poverty in our world. Financing for the health of all is not the problem; corporate greed and lack
of political will to address healthcare disparities must be addressed.
It is critical to start from the conviction that Healthcare is a Human Right. Not a privilege for
some, but a necessity—a Human Right—that all should enjoy. And with that right comes the
responsibility to do the common sense things that keep ourselves healthy. We wear masks now
to protect ourselves and because we are only as healthy as the least heathy among us in this ever
more interconnected world. Systemic Change thinking: nothing happens in isolation, everything
is connected to everything else.
SDG3 works to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” and calls for
every nation to prioritize our health and the health of our communities. Although less than half
the global population has access to essential health services, the UN believes that prior to the
pandemic, major progress was made in improving the health of millions of people. Significant
strides were made in increasing life expectancy, reducing some of the common killers associated
with child and maternal mortality, greater control of diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, and
widespread health education learning in general.
Some forward steps towards greater global health and well-being have been reversed by the
onslaught of the pandemic. We must get back on track in this regard because the world we want
depends on healthy people and communities. Along with physical health let’s not forget its
partner mental health, another striking victim of COVID, and support movements to destigmatize
and increase access to mental health practices and resources.
Google the “targets” under SDG3 to see concrete goals to make it happen. Let’s remind people
with whom we converse that Health is a Human Right and never more critical that right now.
Let’s strive to protect our own health and that of those around us. “Health Solidarity” we might
call it. Some might even call it a virtue.
SDG 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
Ignorance is not bliss. Although there are days many of us would simply like to shut out the
world in blissful isolation!
But no. Education is a vital component of human development, essential to success in any field
and a powerful tool for socioeconomic mobility. And in a constantly changing world, especially
with the unending growth of new technologies, education is a life-long task.
It is also a recognized Human Right to which we are all entitled. It is important that we all have
access to resources that can help to us to live with dignity and to create a better tomorrow;
education can be a magical gateway for everyone.
SDG4 aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning
opportunities for all.”
According to the UN, “about 260 million children were still out of school in 2018 — nearly one
fifth of the global population in that age group. And more than half of all children and
adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and
mathematics.” And that was BEFORE COVID left young students at home and out of school.
Many kids today have now been out of school for a full year! How are they supposed to grow
and develop if we are unable to provide a quality education to so many around the world? How
are school children to learn if they have none of the internet tools or skills for today’s distance
learning, especially children of developing countries?
A mantra currently in vogue at the UN says it all: leaving no one behind means leaving no one
offline. Digital access and literacy, broadband availability—and not just at the 2g level—is fast
becoming a moral duty that nations—and the private sector, which reaps vast sums of money
from the sale of technology—must address.
Like so many of the SDGs, the fight for quality education requires that we lobby our
governments to stand firm in expanding free and accessible higher education to all. It is
important that we understand the history of education, and how marginalized groups have,
throughout history, been blocked from their right to quality education. It is important that we
support our school systems, and that we hear their concerns. In the United States, it is important
that we educate ourselves on red-lining and other systemic injustices that surround school
systems. Additionally, as we modernize and technology becomes central to learning, it is also
important that we prioritize equal access to technology in schools and ensure that no child feels
Who knew there would be so much to be educated on about education? The information is
endless, and all people have a right to know.
Jim Claffey, NGO representative of the Congregation of the Mission to the United Nations
SDG 1 : NO POVERTY
SDG1: NO POVERTY
No poverty? For real? For everyone?
Then we can stop here. Why 16 more goals? If no poverty, what a fantastic world!
But no. Poverty encompasses so much, its tentacles reach into so many related issues and problems that are not tangents but causes and results of poverty often at the same time. Just think about poverty and health, housing, clean water, sanitation, jobs, etc. And what about climate change and Mother Earth? If SDG13 (Climate Action) is ignored, why worry about people when the earth might become uninhabitable? No, the SDGs are about People AND the Planet.
Systemic Change thinkers would remind us: everything is connected to everything else, nothing happens in isolation.
SDG1 (No Poverty) posits a broad objective: “Ensuring that the entire population and especially the poorest and most vulnerable have equal rights to economic resources, access to basic services, property and land control, natural resources and new technologies.”
Ensuring these rights for every human being brings us closer to ensuring justice around the world and challenges us to examine how poverty is intricately linked to many social justice issues from gender inequality to poor education systems to environmental degradation.
When 193 countries signed on to this UN 2030 Agenda, they pledged to create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, with social protection systems and measures, to eradicate poverty.
But still: no poverty. What an amazing thing to ponder.
SDG 2: NO HUNGER
Along with air and water, is there any need more basic than food?
I think most people would agree that all human beings should have the right to live a healthy, fulfilling and productive life, but this demands good-quality, nutritious food. Yet the UN estimates that “nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9% of the world’s population”, and growing. Especially disturbing when we see how much food is wasted in developed nations (30-40% in the US).
Goal 2 works to end hunger. Period. But to do so, we must not look solely at food itself—actually there is plenty to go around, even globally—but networks of agriculture around the world, how they are transitioning to fit modern needs, and the need to create systems that are profitable and beneficial and sustainable for the global community.
As a target of this SDG, the UN emphasizes the need to improve the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices.
Again we find here the interconnectedness of social justice issues: economic justice is related to ending hunger as much as poverty eradication is connected to proper education systems and climate initiatives, our own possibly wasteful behaviors around food, and the harmful effects of subsidized farming by huge agricultural conglomerates.
Prioritizing proper nutrition for all by 2030: a Zero Hunger goal.
WHAT CAN WE DO? We can focus on reality, which Pope Francis reminds us is more important than ideas. And the reality is that too many people in this world are trapped in hard core poverty, and too many are hungry.
These wonderful ideas, all 17 SDGs, must by accomplished by the Member States who signed the UN 2030 Agenda, but since social justice doesn’t appear out of nowhere, or by chance or accident, or by governmental benevolence, it is up to the peoples of the world to insist that their government fulfill its pledge on the issue. For us, learning about the SDGs and understanding their significance is an important first step as together, creatively, we search for the most effective ways to advocate for these aspects of social justice.
NGO representative of the CM to the UN
In this blog series, let’s explore the meaning of the SDGs, the
Sustainable Development Goals, known as the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for the
People and the Planet. What follows is a brief introduction to the list of 17 goals.
In September 2015, 193 countries came together at the United Nations to adopt
and commit to a long-term, comprehensive strategy to tackle the world’s greatest
challenges related to global sustainable development. The result was the SDGs, a
list of 17 goals to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.
The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are ambitious, but
they are far from unachievable. Still, in order to achieve them, much work must be
done. We must work together, leverage partnerships, analyze systemic issues,
address root causes to these issues, and take action!
These goals allow us, as a global community, to visualize where we want to be by
2030 and the world that we want to live in. By creating these comprehensive goals,
writing them out, and sharing them throughout global societies, we are able to
tangibly encourage social mobilization, create peer pressure among political
leaders, spur networks of expertise, knowledge and practice into action, and
mobilize stakeholder networks across countries, sectors and regions, to come
together for a common purpose: global development and sustainable change.
As explained by the United Nations, we are living in a crucial time, and with only 9
years left to reach our goals, our priorities must shift, with those in the most
vulnerable positions pushed to the forefront of our agendas.
The UN website states:
“With just under ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development
Goals, world leaders at the SDG Summit in September 2019 called for a Decade of
Action and delivery for sustainable development, and pledged to mobilize financing,
enhance national implementation and strengthen institutions to achieve the Goals
by the target date of 2030, leaving no one behind. The UN Secretary-
General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action on three
levels: global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter
solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals; local action embedding the
needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities; and people action, including by youth,
civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other
stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required
Now is the time to get informed about these goals, to spread awareness, and to
take action, especially on the key question: How accelerate their development
during COVID? Your comments and your ideas most welcome as we move
through the 17! Together, we can make great change!
Submitted by Jim Claffey
NGO representative of the CM to the UN