Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Goals: A Path to a Better Future

By Shirlyn Kunaratnam
May 24, 2023

As we move forward towards a sustainable future, countries are trying to improve the well-being of their population by adapting and changing their ways for a better future. The United Nations has set out a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. These 17 goals aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.[1] But how do these goals relate to our well-being? Well-being is the combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and social wellness.[2] But it’s not just about individuals, it’s also about the community and society we live in. Therefore, well-being depends on how people living in the particular context define it.

The Role of Sustainable Development Goals in Promoting Well-Being

The SDGs are closely linked to well-being as they address the social, economic, and environmental issues that affect humans. They aim to address present issues to ensure the well-being of people and the planet without compromising the needs of future generations.

The Wellbeing Index measures the overall well-being of a country’s population. Countries like Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, and Bhutan have developed their own Wellbeing Index to analyze their countries’ well-being state to incorporate the identified issues into their policies and decision-making to have a better life for their communities.

While countries used to assess their well-being based on the monetary value of Gross Domestic Products, they have come to realize that this method does not accurately reflect a country’s or community’s well-being.[3] Therefore, well-being is now defined based on their own requirements for the quality of life. Generally, well-being is assessed based on factors such as health, infrastructure, education, environment, and wealth.

In terms of the SDGs and well-being, Goal 1 aims to end poverty in all its forms, which is a significant barrier to well-being. Goal 3 aims to guarantee healthy lifestyles and improve well-being for people of all ages. This objective deals with Wellbeing Index-related topics such as healthcare access, disease prevention and treatment, and mental health. Goal 4 focuses on providing quality education to individuals, which is a key factor in promoting well-being and improving the overall quality of life.

In addition, the SDGs address environmental issues that affect the well-being of individuals and communities such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution. Goal 6 aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, which is crucial for promoting public health and well-being, particularly in rural areas. SDGs promote social and economic development that supports the well-being of individuals and communities. Similarly, Goal 8 promotes decent work and economic growth, which supports the creation of jobs and sustainable livelihoods for individuals and communities.

SDGs are an essential tool for promoting well-being and sustainable development. They provide a roadmap for countries and communities to address the most pressing issues of our time and ensure that we build a better world for ourselves and future generations. By taking action on the SDGs, we can create a more equitable, healthy, and prosperous world for all.

My Views: Ensuring Rights for Well-being and Sustainability

To achieve well-being and sustainability, it is crucial to ensure that all individuals and communities have their rights met. “Rights” in this context refers to the basic human needs and entitlements that enable people to live with dignity and independence. These include access to education, healthcare, food, water, and other essential resources that are necessary for a good quality of life.[4]

One example of how rights are linked to well-being and sustainability is the right to education (Goal 4). When individuals have access to education, they are better equipped to improve their livelihoods, contribute to their communities, and promote sustainable development. Similarly, the right to food and water is linked to Goal 6, ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. When people have access to nutritious food and clean water, they are better able to maintain good health and well-being.

Countries and development practitioners strive to come up with new measurement matrices and strategies to improve the well-being of communities and individuals. However, achieving the expected outcome is challenging due to a lack of support, capacity building, finance and effective strategies. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and well-being, the support and partnership of government, private sectors, and other stakeholders are crucial. SDGs are often referred to as “People’s goals,” and the well-being index focuses on the betterment of individuals and communities. Therefore, it is important to involve the people from the very beginning in planning, designing, and implementing these goals and indexes, rather than merely asking them to implement them. The communities should be empowered to utilize their resources, identify their priorities, and determine their perception of what well-being entails. They should be equipped to design and implement their own plans for their well-being. In order to do so, communities and individuals should be educated and made aware of how their actions can contribute towards achieving their own well-being and SDGs.

Inclusion and equity play a major role in achieving the SDGs and well-being. Promoting gender equality, social inclusion, and ensuring everyone has access to basic necessities such as food, water, and healthcare are some of the ways to ensure well-being for all.

Innovation and technologies can provide solutions to many challenges in achieving SDGs. However, these technologies often divide urban and rural communities, resulting in a lack of access to sustainable agriculture, energy, transportation, and digital technologies to improve healthcare, education, and other essential services. Bridging the gap and providing access to technologies can improve equity and well-being among all communities.

Finally, in my opinion, well-being and sustainability should ensure that all the rights of individuals and communities are met so that they can enjoy life with dignity. Dignity is a sense of independence and confidence that individuals and communities can take care of their needs by themselves.

[1] https://sdgs.un.org/goals

[2] Well-Being Concepts | HRQOL | CDC

[3] OECD Better Life Index

[4] https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights