New agenda for sustainable development: towards a healthier, equitable and peaceful future for all

Today, world leaders launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015.

Building on the foundation laid by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will address the 3 elements of sustainable development – social, economic, and environmental – and provide economic transformation and an opportunity to lift people out of poverty, advance social justice and protect the environment. 

The SDGs are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. They need to take root at the national and subnational levels, where the Agenda will mainly be implemented. 

SDG 3 focuses on health: "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages". Targets include the unfinished work for the health-related MDGs, as well as new and welcome targets for emerging global health priorities, such as noncommunicable diseases and injuries, universal health coverage, sexual and reproductive health and the broader determinants of health. Several other SDGs also contain targets related to health, recognizing it as a precondition, an outcome and an indicator for development. 

A truly transformative shift would be required to implement an integrated approach to sustainable development, and to ensure that every person's human rights are respected and no one is left behind.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Health 2020

The Agenda is the product of the largest consultative process in the history of the United Nations, led by Member States and including broad participation by stakeholders such as civil-society organizations, the private sector and academe. 

The United Nations facilitated this global conversation. Working together, members of the United Nations system in the Europe and central Asia provided policy-makers and negotiators of the new Agenda with a concise overview of the critical issues facing the region and with a platform for discussion that culminated in a regional consultation: Inclusive and Sustainable Development: Perspectives from Europe and Central Asia on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. 

The consultation highlighted health's critical role in the post-2015 development agenda, and recognized WHO's European policy, Health 2020, as an important regional policy framework for health and well-being, crucial for setting the ground and implementing the new vision for health after 2015. 

Health 2020, adopted by European Member States in 2012, strongly emphasizes improving health for all and reducing health inequalities, as well as working across sectors and government to improve leadership and participatory governance for health. 

"Focusing solely on the health Goal would be a missed opportunity. All the Sustainable Development Goals will influence health, because they all address the determinants of health. The 2030 Agenda will link different dimensions of development – including health – to the environment, to prosperity and to all actions and policies that people need. Now we have a historic political responsibility to pursue the integration of health and well-being into each and every Goal. We have the opportunity to put into practice the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to which we subscribed through Health 2020," said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, in her recent address to Member States at the 65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.