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Policy & Global Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Global Health

We seek to strengthen the role of knowledge and innovation in the implementation of the SDGs

SDGs: A universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity

The 2030 Agenda -and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals- is the roadmap for global development in the coming years. These global goals (and 169 targets) build on the achievements and aspirations of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but go well beyond and include new, interdependent challenges such as climate change, economic inequality, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among others. Contrary to the MDGs, this inclusive agenda launched in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly, applies to all countries, rich and poor, although each country is expected to push forward the different targets in accordance with its own priorities.

SDG 3: Health and well-being

Health has a central position in the agenda through SDG 3, and is closely linked to over a dozen targets in other goals related to urban health, equal access to treatments, and non-communicable diseases, among others. In fact, the SDGs represent a unique opportunity to promote public health through an integrated approach to public policies across different sectors (the Health in All approach defined by the WHO).  For example, better education for girls (goal 4.1) in southern Africa would improve maternal health (goal 3.1); tackling child malnourishment (goal 2.2) would have a great impact on child health (goal 3.2); and ensuring access to safe water (6.1) or tackling ambient air pollution (11.6) will evidently have a direct impact on several SDG3 targets. On the other hand, using coal to improve energy access (goal 7), would have a negative impact on health. Thus, the achievement of the health goals will need policy coherence to reinforce synergies between certain SDGs and minimise trade-offs.  

ISGlobal and the SDGs

In ISGlobal, we work on projects that not only address SDG 3 (good health and well-being) but also other SDGs that directly impact health, particularly SDG 9 (innovation), SDG 10 (reduce inequalities), 11 (sustainable cities), 13 (climate action) and 17 (partnerships), in both developed and developing countries.

Our team works very closely with our scientific teams to strengthen the role of knowledge and innovation in the implementation of the SDGs. We also advise the government, local administrations, political parties, and private companies in Spain on how they can contribute to the full implementation of the SDGs in our country.

ISGlobal is part of the UN Global Compact Spain to advance towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. We are also part of the Academic Advisory Board for the 2030 Agenda, set up by the Barcelona City Council to advise the city government on the definition of specific measures for implementing the SDGs in the city; the Alliance Catalonia 2030, a partnership between public and private entities promoted by the Generalitat de Catalunya; and the Advisory Council of the SDGs Observatory led by the “la Caixa” Foundation and Esade’s Center for Leadership. In the international sphere, ISGlobal, working with two academic institutions in China and in India, is coordinating the Health for All initiative within the framework of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Under the leadership of Professor Jeffrey Sachs and the Earth Institute at the University of Columbia (New York), this project promotes good practices and access to information to ensure the success of the SDGs. In addition to this work in the international domain, we are also part of the Advisory Board of the Spanish Network for Sustainable Development (REDS), the Spanish arm of the Health for All initiative.

Our second major international project is the coordination of the European hub of Think_SDGs, the European Network of Global Health Policy Think Tanks for the SDGs. The aim of the network, which is led by the Geneva Institute of Global Health, is to foster collaboration between members in research and dissemination activities to accelerate the achievement of the health-related goals of the 2030 Agenda.

ISGlobal has also collaborated in the preparation of the Report 'Towards the localization of the SDGs' (2021), presented by the Global Task-Force of Local and Regional Governments at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, in New York. A team from ISGlobal was in charge of drafting the central chapter (Chapter 4), which highlights the role of local and regional governments to facing the impact of COVID-19 and their connections with the SDGs, from an approach based on the concept promoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of "Health in All Policies" (HiAP).

ISGlobal 2020-2030 Strategy to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda

In June 2020, an internal participatory process was launched to set ISGlobal's direction and priorities with regard to the 2030 Agenda through the development of the corporate strategy on SDGs 2020-2030, which was launched in November 2021.

The strategy reflects that the institution's activity is mainly aligned with SDGs 3, 11 and 17, followed by SDGs 4, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 13. The document also presents 17 strategic goals that the institution considers priorities for ISGlobal's effective contribution to the 2030 Agenda, and establishes a series of performance indicators to monitor the implementation of the actions planned in five areas of action: sustainability, equity, research and innovation, policy advocacy and health impact.


Sources, Griggs and Visbeck, Nature, 2016.


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