in: Loewe, Markus / Nicole Rippin (eds.), Translating an ambitious vision into global transformation: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), (Discussion Paper 7/2015), 27-31
The goal’s request to ensure healthy lives for all at all ages by 2030 is unrealistic, and we therefore suggest the following reformulation of SDG 3: “Promote healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages”. The goal’s focus on healthy lives and well-being, instead of the mere absence of disease or infirmity, is not sufficiently reflected in its operationalisation.
This could be changed if Targets 3.3 and 3.4 – with their focus on specific communicable and non-communicable diseases – were to be replaced by a new target that requires to “increase Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) by x% and to ensure that every person has a healthy life expectancy of at least xx years at birth”. The targets for the goal are, in general, precise in their formulation with a rather high level of ambition. Targets 3.1, 3.4 and 3.6, however, focus on global reductions only. As experience with the MDGs has demonstrated, the compelling advantages of comparisons between countries make it impossible to prevent global goals from being adopted at the national level. In order to prevent these targets from unfairly impacting those countries with bad starting conditions we recommend adding “by reducing national rates by x%” to each of these targets. In addition, we suggest removing Target 3.9 (“Substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination”), as it suggests a direct attribution of deaths and illnesses to different forms of environmental pollution, which does not hold in reality and is therefore basically impossible to translate into adequate indicators. Finally, almost all means of implementation explicitly refer to developing countries only. This goes against the aspired universal character of the SDGs; therefore, we recommend substantially revising the means of implementation in a way that challenges both developing and developed countries to promote healthy lives.