The UN Sustainable Development Summit was held in New York in September.

New UN agenda provides an opportunity for physical therapists

The United Nations has formally adopted a new agenda for sustainable development, with a set of 17 global goals to end poverty, fight inequality, bring good health and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the new agenda as a “universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world”.
“It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home,” he declared at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York in September, where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted. They succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in September 2000 to tackle poverty. 
According to Catherine Sykes, WCPT’s Professional Policy Consultant, the new goals provide an opportunity for physical therapists to demonstrate their contribution to sustainable global development. She pointed out that although only one of the 17 goals refers directly to health and wellbeing, others are also extremely relevant to the profession.
“Physical therapists should consider their roles in support of the goals addressing inclusive economic growth and infrastructure and reducing inequality,” she said. “These specifically concern people with disabilities and their contribution to societies.”
She said it was good news that the indicators being used to gauge whether the goals were being achieved separated out statistics for people with disabilities – giving a picture of whether their lives were being changed for the better.
The 17 goals are to:
  1. End poverty 
  2. End hunger and improve nutrition
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education
  5. Achieve gender equality 
  6. Ensure availability of water and sanitation 
  7. Ensure access to affordable and sustainable energy
  8. Promote sustained and inclusive economic growth
  9. Build resilient infrastructure and sustainable industry
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production 
  13. Combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans
  15. Protect and promote sustainable use of ecosystems
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies 
  17. Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
Among the objectives specified under goal 3, “ensure healthy lives”, is the aim of reducing by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment by the year 2030. Other objectives are:
  • halving by 2020 the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents;  
  • strengthening the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries;
  • substantially increasing health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries.
Heads of state from all over the world attended the Sustainable Development Summit. The adoption ceremony was presided over by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who stressed the successes of the MDGs and the need for the full implementation of the new agenda.
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