Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Sustainable Development Goals-“The Future We Want”

September 8, 2020 · 2 Comments · SDGs, Uncategorized

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” – Nelson Mandela

As an aspiring MPH (Epidemiology) student, this quote by Nelson Mandela inspires me and fills me with determination to not rest until we eradicate poverty, hunger, inequality, and injustice. Some of you may think I am “CRAAAZZY…” Well, I am not alone who wants to and is hoping to work for the “Future We(I) Want,” but the United Nations and its member States have adopted the Sustainable Development Goals as a part of their 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.

What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (adopted by 193 UN member states), are a set of universal targets, focusing on 17 areas for growth and development globally. The SDG’s aim at reducing poverty and strengthening economies while addressing social issues such as hunger, education, gender equality and health while battling climate change. The 17 goals are an elaborated version of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and goes as follows:

  1. No Poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Good Health and Well-Being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduced Inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Life Below Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Life on Land: Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Partnerships for the Goals: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Where are we with SDGs in 2020?

From the Sustainable Development Goal report of 2019, it is evident that since the inception of SDGs in 2015, extreme poverty has declined considerably but still at least 6% of the world’s population is estimated to live in extreme poverty by 2030. With the Covid-19 pandemic, these figures might more so over tend to rise then fall. The under 5 mortality rates have fallen by 49% between years 2000 and 2017. 186 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change and about 150 countries have developed national policies to respond to the challenges of rapid urbanization, and 71 countries and the European Union now have more than 300 policies and instruments supporting sustainable consumption and production. Even with such good progress, we are still experiencing deterioration of the natural environment, sea levels rising, ocean acidification, warm climates -all at an alarming rate.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

We do not have enough time as only ten more years are left on hand to achieve the targets for SDGs. Some quick and prompt mobilizations are required at: 1) Global 2) Local and 3) People level as addressed by the UN-Secretary General. The 17 goals that are For People and For Planet should be adapted by everyone and everywhere so that

 “We can bring the change we wish to see” – Mahatma Gandhi

Today’s children and youth are the leaders of tomorrow. As a Public Health student, I believe that the children and youth of the nation should be encouraged to contribute towards SDGs at individual levels. Eventhough, these 17 goals seem unattainable or impossible to be combated at individual level, some simple changes in day-to-day life can help to bring major changes. Just like Greta Thunberg, youth can be thought leaders and holds the power to mobilize the resources and the nations. Some examples include Trisha Shetty (a 26-year old from India), who works for gender equality (Goal#5); Rita Kimani of Kenya, who helps unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers to allow them to sustain agricultural and economic growth (Goal#8); Rainier Mallol from Dominican Republic is a co-founder and president of an epidemiology company that has developed a tool using artificial intelligence, epidemiological expertise and data analytics to predict major disease outbreaks (Goal#3), and the list goes on.

What can be done as an Individual to contribute?

A few suggestions to contribute towards a better future and toward SDGs include use of recyclable commodities, reduce use of electricity or exhaustible energy sources. One should try to avoid waste of food and water. As an individual, try to walk, bicycle, or use public transport to reduce pollutants in air.

It was unfortunate that I got introduced to these SDGs recently. I had never heard of them before as many of my fellow MPH students. But let us not make the same mistake and deprive the children and youth of such important objectives that can help to bring the nations together where no one is left behind. Let us all work together to grow together!

“The Future I Want” is where no one is left without food, where no one is left poor, where everyone is treated equally, where everyone has clean water to drink and clean air to breath. This is the kind of “Future” I aim to raise my voice for and work for!

What about You?

If I have not convinced you enough to make some small changes and contribute towards SDGs, watch this amazing video by Hans Rosling.




  • ssanchezalvarez1

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, especially the quotes you incorporated into your writing! Great job in stating how we, as individuals, are able to help and contribute, as well as describing where we are in the goals as of 2020! Although there has been progress and with work still left to do, I’m wondering where we will be in 10 years.

    • jshah13

      Thank You! I share the same concerns as you @ssanchezalvarez1. I wonder how much, if any progress, will be achieved by 2030, especially with COVID-19 around.

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