Framing Sustainable Health Locally through a Global Lens: The Role of the UN SDGs in Addressing Racial Equity and Public Health in the City of Detroit

By Alexander Plum, Rachel Mucha, Ilyssa Tamler, John Zervos and Peter Hammer.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 29, 2016 $US5.00

The field of public health and the social determinants of health powerfully frame the root causes of societal problems while offering insights into useful strategies forward. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an example of incorporating racial equity, poverty, and structural policies into human health improvement. But theories must be put into action if they are to make a difference. A major research hospital’s global health division convened a workshop of fifty-five community, civic, and public health leaders to adapt the health-related SDGs to Detroit’s context and challenges. Four breakout workgroup sessions were held, covering hunger and food security (SDG 2), health and wellbeing for all (SDG 3), sustainable water and sanitation (SDG 6), and urban development and safety (SDG 11). The strongest conclusion to emerge was that progress on the SDGs in cities like Detroit will not be possible without building a more comprehensive and inclusive public health infrastructure. This needs to be a priority at the federal, state, regional, and local levels. The SDGs provide an exciting framework for global change. In an emerging model of translocalism, Detroit can learn best practices from cities around the world with similar challenges while sharing its own lessons. The workshop clearly demonstrated the relevance of the SDGs to advance human development in Detroit.

Keywords: Sustainability, Innovation, Urban, Participation

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 29, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 558.035KB)).

Alexander Plum

Senior Program Coordinator, The Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI, USA

Rachel Mucha

Research Intern, The Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System, Washington, DC, USA

Ilyssa Tamler

Research Intern, The Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI, USA

John Zervos

Managing Director, The Global Health Initiative, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI, USA

Dr. Peter Hammer

Professor, School of Law, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA