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Project Management and Sustainable Development Goal #3 – Ensuring Healthy Lives

Sustainable Development Goal #3 (of 17) and Project Management, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Good HealthInstallment #3 of our series in which we cover each sustainable development goal (SDG) and how projects and project management can contribute to them. This post focuses on SDG number 3, Good Health and Well-being.

This goal has 13 specific targets which include reducing maternal mortality and preventable deaths of newborns; ending epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases; strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse; ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services, and achieving universal health coverage. It also has a focus on 

Some of the underlying issues behind these goals are not what one might think. For example, a large factor for maternal mortality in extremely poor countries isn’t the inability to access services but the fact that a pregnant woman doesn’t have clothes that fit when she gets to term and doesn’t want to go to the hospital naked. Let that sink in for a moment as when I first heard about this; it shocked me. We have made tremendous progress, but there is a long way to go. 

SDG #3 is based on the premise that we as humans can’t leave humans behind, any humans. It might be hard to relate to someone half-way around the world. This post isn’t a “think of the children” per se, but it is. If your project team, resources, suppliers, and contractors do not have adequate access to healthcare and or have poor health and safety conditions, do their families?  

Q. Does SDG #3 relate to projects and project management?
A. Absolutely!

Q. How?
A. Ask yourself Do you know what the health and safety considerations are that relate to the project team, the project environment during the project life cycle, and the environment that the product will inhabit when it is put into production and after (Total Asset Lifecycle).

Some of the business themes associated with this goal are:

  • Occupational health and safety
  • Access to medicines
  • Access to quality essential health care services
  • Air quality
  • Water quality

Once you have identified how these themes relate to your project, look at them from a risk perspective, not just to the project but to the business, and society at large. Also look at what organization’s approach, policies, and procedures are to see if there are systems in place to leverage from.

What to look for as a PM:

  1. Do you have documented Health & Safety policies and standards for your project team and resources? What about suppliers and contractors? 
  2. If they don’t have adequate health and safety, how does that impact their families?
  3. If there are policies, are they acknowledged and adhered to?
  4. Is consumer health and safety a success criterion for the project’s product?
    1. Can this be Measured and demonstrated?

For the first posts in this series, I have used good examples, here is a not so good one.

The FIFA and the Khalifa International Stadium:

Migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the 2022 World Cup have suffered systematic abuses, in some cases forced labor.  Amnesty International revealed in March of this year.The report, The ugly side of the beautiful game: Exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup site, blasts FIFA’s shocking indifference to appalling treatment of migrant workers. The number of people working on World Cup sites is set to surge almost ten-fold to around 36,000 in the next two years.

“In the next seven years we will be working closely with contractors and housing providers to ensure that each worker involved in our projects has access to proper facilities… we will work with our partners to create a healthy living environment in workers’ accommodation.”57 – Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy website

When Amnesty International first encountered the men involved in the Khalifa Stadium refurbishment and the Aspire Zone landscaping projects in 2015, they were living in squalid labour camps, with overcrowded rooms and few facilities. In one case the main entrance road to the camp was flooded due to inadequate drainage, and smelled of raw sewage. All of the accommodation sites were clearly in breach of both Qatari law and the Supreme Committee’s Workers’ Welfare Standards.

The bottom line here is that it is the Project Manager’s ethical responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all who are either contributing to the project, indirectly impacted by it, or benefitting from it. There is no gray area. If it is not a consideration due to lack of authority, assume the responsibility, and ask for help.  There are dozens of organizations that will back you up!

To download the full report click here

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni has over 24 years of experience in project, program, and portfolio management, having led Aerospace, Finance, Government, and Technology initiatives. He has a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment, is a Certified Senior Project Manager (IPMA Level B®), and Certified Green Project Manager (GPM®). He is the founder and president of GPM Global and the President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association USA (IPMA-USA) He is a medal of honor recipient from Universidad Autonoma Lisboa, AI Media's Leading Advisor Award 2017, the 2015 World CSR Congress Leadership Award, 2014 HRD Leadership & Training Award, and 2013 IPMA Achievement Award. He has lectured on or taught sustainable project management in 50 countries worldwide.

One thought to “Project Management and Sustainable Development Goal #3 – Ensuring Healthy Lives”

  1. Great article! Thank you for raising my awareness. I hope PM’s that are managing construction and other projects with migrant workers will look into the living and working conditions of their team.

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