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SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

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Healthy population
Sustainability and prosperity of business
Engaged workforce

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SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

"Health systems oriented towards universal health coverage, immensely valuable in their own right, produce an array of benefits: in times of crisis, they mitigate the effect of shocks on communities; in times of calm, they foster more cohesive societies and productive economies.” - The Economists’ Declaration on Universal Health Coverage

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The 3rd Sustainable Development Goal encompasses many major health issues, including reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental health, road traffic injuries, universal health care, environmental health consequences and health systems.

Beyond the basic obligation for ensuring occupational health and safety, companies have enormous potential to positively advance the health and well-being of their workforce. Work-related non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes in addition to work-related mental ill-health and stress negatively affect worker productivity.

How is this relevant to business?

Health and well-being is critical to the sustainability and prosperity of business. This is relevant at all steps within a supply chain, including a company’s own workforce, the people working for suppliers and ultimately those who work in distribution channels, the customers and people who may be affected by the method of disposal when a product is thrown away.

Businesses have a responsibility not to harm human health. There is also a strong business case for supporting health, as a healthy population is more engaged, more productive and contributes to economic growth. Populations that enjoy good health and well-being are also the most fertile for businesses wanting to build markets.

What can business do?

Businesses undermine world health ambitions when they neglect or are negligent in respect of workplace health and safety or use suppliers who do the same. Other health-related failures include pollution and inefficient or wasteful use of natural resources and energy. Some end products are blatantly unhealthy, such as cigarettes.

As an absolute minimum, businesses should adhere to laws governing workplace health and safety and ensure their operations do no harm to workers or the communities in which they live.

They should scrutinise their supply chains for harmful practices and help suppliers reach minimum standards related to health and well-being. Improvements in societal health delivers magnified benefits to the business community. It is in the private sector’s own interests to find opportunities to make a positive impact.



Act Responsibly

* Provide workers with a safe work environment
* Identify and address risks to health arising from workplace activities
* Reduce and mitigate the environmental impacts of business activities
* Ensure the safety of products and services
* Pay a living wage and consider introducing flexible working arrangements as these can significantly improve employee well-being
* Adopt and promote employee assistance programs offering easy to access, confidential and quality counselling and support services


Find Opportunity

* Work with suppliers in the value chain to improve working conditions and explore ways to provide healthcare and insurance options
* Review the business continuity management strategy and identify opportunities to assist the local community in times of emergency
* Invest in workplace health and well-being programs
* Collaborate with governments and other businesses to identify opportunities where expertise or services can be provided to improve community health, nutrition and knowledge outcomes. For example, join the UN Business Action Hub to discuss, share information and take action to advance the SDGs (www.business.un.org)
* Support community awareness programs and physical activity (e.g. sponsorship of a sports team)
* Engage with GBCHealth, a coalition of companies and organisations committed to investing resources to make a healthier world for their employees, their communities and the world at large (www.gbchealth.org)


Engage with the UN's Health is Everyone’s Business Action Platform

The United Nations Global Compact is scheduled to launch its Health is Everyone’s Business Action Platform in September 2017. The platform will provide compelling arguments for why health and well-being are imperative for sustainable business, including the business case and opportunities across value chains and supply chains. The platform invites businesses across all sectors to make health and well-being an imperative.


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