Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

How Do We Approach Achieving The Sustainable Development Goals?

September 10, 2020 · 1 Comment · SDGs, Uncategorized

What Are The Sustainable Development Goals:

The sustainable development goals are a set of amazing initiatives to end the world’s many issues to better the quality of life of the world’s population. They consist of 17 categories created in 2015 with an expected achievement by 2030. These issues span all varieties like access to water, gender equality, and renewable energy sources. They comprise everything needed for the peaceful living of most everybody and paint a sort of utopic image for the future of human beings. It’s wonderful that these conversations are being had and plans are being made, but I feel we have a long way to go before attaining these goals.

Initial Thoughts:

My initial impression is that of surprise of the quick timeline created to solve these long-standing issues. Looking at the current direction of many of these goals, they will not be accomplished by 2030. I believe more realistic timing of these goals could have been made. Taking the mission to end hunger for example, since the inception of the initiative, hunger has steadily gone up. This may be due to more of a focus on food distribution instead of on the agricultural aspect. Many of these 17 missions require one goal to be complete or mostly achieved before another can be achieved. The world’s population continues to grow and rather quickly, requiring more food and increases in the resources needed to work on all of these issues. That is why it is even more surprising that I and many others have never heard of these goals. These ambitious goals require all the help that we can get from all walks of life. Educating citizens on the world missions and the steps being taken to achieve them would seem to be critical in getting the support needed for its success.

Why the United States is Not as Involved?

The United States has a very individualistic point of view. There is much less sense of community here compared to other countries which can be clearly seen in the current pandemic. A community outlook would allow most citizens to understand the importance of wearing masks and social distancing and present a more caring decision-making process. Many who realize that masks are important choose to ignore these recommendations putting others at risk. When weighing the pros and cons, individual happiness or pleasure trumps the possible spread of COVID-19. This is a very dangerous way to think when collaboration is required. The culture of the United States perpetuates a fend for yourself mindset and creates selfish tendencies making cooperation difficult.


Why Involve Youth:
Involving the youth in this initiative and educating them on the importance and the realistic methods in going about reaching our goals can really recruit change makers that go into public health. Drastic measures must be taken to reverse these trends and create positive shifts towards the right direction. Young minds are full of imagination and creative outlooks on problems that are outside the norm. The work needed on these issues also require many different professions so introducing these goals as they decide on their profession create unique perspectives. It is also important to note that you don’t need to go into public health specifically to be part of the solution to public health issues. It is such a broad space with many positions to be filled and many directions to tackle from.

Creating a Curriculum:

Creating a Public Health elective in high schools focusing on the current public health issues of the world and working it around the sustainable development goals is a great way to introduce students to personal responsibility to the environment, respect for depleting resources, and becoming aware of the actions that are and can be taken to create positive generational change. Those that go into different careers could be mindful of these issues in their work. For example, those that go into politics can be aware of the effects of policies being put in place. Those that are in law may go the environmental route to work on conservation policies to increase resource availability.

Youth involvement also helps with gaining traction to the initiative. Today’s youth are very action oriented and can be influential in getting policies created that support their goals or at least make enough noise to cause consideration and pause. Plan international speaks on the specific ways that the youth will be affected by the sustainable development goals being achieved.

Corporation Involvement:

Though involving the youth has its benefits to bring fresh perspectives and ideas I believe these goals can be reached much faster and efficiently if corporations were brought on board. Most of the causes of the negative environmental impacts of humans come from large corporations like oil companies and Amazon. With the power they hold in both their personal company practices as well as economic pull, these companies can push environmentally friendly policies and support the efforts of various developmental goals financially. In order for big companies like this to support the initiative, they have to see economic value. Pushing these issues as individual responsibilities greatly reduces our potential impact on the world.


This pyramid was created to demonstrate how to improve health and how each level impacts the population but I believe the idea applies to most issues. Where the bottom is a systemic alteration that can affect a greater percent of the population while requiring less effort from the individual. We must surround the population with options that support our goals and provide the materials or tools (which could be education) to implement them instead of the convenient choices that have many negative impacts. Individuals in the U.S. live in a very convenient society where material things can be gained at a click of a button and we as a society have gotten used to this immediate satisfaction. This frame of mind and ease of life may have to be interrupted to get the results we want. The price of this convenience is our quality of air, natural resources, water and many other crucial parts of our lives. If we continue to live the way we live currently, we cannot expect different outcomes. We as a society must be comfortable becoming uncomfortable in order to instill positive permanent change to our world.


One Comment

  • chill62

    Great post! I agree with having more public health specific courses in highschool curriculums, because most Americans don’t hear about the SDGs until higher education or once they are already in the work field.

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