SDG 3: Health and Sustainable Development

SDG 3: Health and Sustainable development: Health is inextricably linked to sustainable development. The health of the population is an outcome of sustainable development as well as a means to achieving sustainability. Environmental degradation, mismanagement of natural resources, and unhealthy consumption patterns and lifestyles impact on the health of the population. Ill health hampers poverty alleviation and economic development. Economic growth, a healthy environment and high public health standards are interdependent. High rates of illness and persistent social and gender-related health disparities pose a serious threat to sustainable development. The same applies to environmental problems such as uncontrolled use of toxic substances and ambient noise. Investment in health is essential if society is to cope with the stresses and strains caused by ill health. The fight against illness and disease must be a central element of all policies aimed at promoting social justice and combating poverty. Public health issues feature prominently in international efforts to promote sustainable development. Examples include the implementation of Agenda 21, the SDGs and the Johannesburg Plan (flowing from the World Summit on Sustainable Development). Public health is also a priority issue at the WHO and the key concern of the EU Public Health Programme.

Across the world, health-related Sustainability & CSR engagement is apparent, with organizations recognizing the triple bottom-line opportunities (societal, environmental and economic) related to improving the health of both their own workforce and their local community (their current and future clients/customers/partners). In implementing CSR/sustainability initiatives, many organizations initiate partnerships across a range of public, private and NGO/NPO sector initiatives to take responsibility in supporting a healthy population. The Jom Mama initiative in Malaysia is a good example of a national cross-sectoral partnership health initiative and is recognized as highly transferrable for other governments.

Example of International Activities, SDG 3:

1. Specialized knowledge for the healthcare arena through partnership (including governments, corporations and NGOs/NPOs). Projects and programs which relate to the business/functions of the organizations are resulting in the availability of a specialized “knowledge bank” for effective and meaningful CSR. Transport companies are initiating safe-driving initiatives, pharmaceutical companies are supporting disease management policies (Bayer, Novo Nordisk), and technology service providers are developing e-Health/technological innovations– all examples of business-led healthcare CSR.

2. Employee well-being is prioritized by organizations with initiatives relating to both physical and mental health, ranging from nutritional support in canteens and healthcare provision for employees to increasing physical exercise and valuing the health of employees and supporting them in employment It is clear from the studies that the added value of a healthy current and future workforce is recognized.

3. Philanthropic provisions: There are examples of corporations providing free services to marginalized or needy members of the world’s population, with healthcare, medicine, food, and education for clinical staff all examples of giving by companies (see The Emirates Airline Foundation). There is a clear ambition in such corporations to improve the lives of the community in countries where they have business links.

Article: SDG 3: Health and Sustainable development