A student perspective on the Sustainable Development Goals

What does it mean to be a future healthcare professional in the UK and to feel a sense of responsibility for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals? Meg Rawlins, Vet student at RVC and member of Students for Global Health explains. 

British society has reached a point where it has become more conscious about social, cultural, economic and environmental issues than at any point previously in history. With more discussions taking place concerning planetary health, access to healthcare, prosperity, gender equality and poverty, it is evident that there is a desire for change. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a highly useful way to achieve these aims, highlighting clear targets which we need to be achieved for the betterment of future society.

The SDGs are an opportunity for striving Millennials to prove their worth in an uncertain future; younger people want to find solutions to poverty, low employment and inequality. And we are not naive to the complexities and challenges that are presented when it comes to the issue of meeting these goals. As a future healthcare professional, it is easy to focus on issues within my area of academic interest. However, I am also mindful of the fact that our roles in achieving SDGs are not limited by our profession; our daily lives also impact on the achievement of them. As the global issues addressed by the SDGs require numerous areas of attention, we must consider the importance of all disciplines, and how effective cooperation between them can help solve major problems.

As leaders of future projects, students must begin to take on a growing responsibility of achieving the goals. The Millennial generation will one day represent the majority of the workforce of the UK economy, so it is vital to ensure that we find opportunities gain understanding of the integrated and collaborative strategies implemented by UK policymakers and stakeholders to ensure that development occurs effectively. This development should not only aim to meet the targets of the SDG’s but ensure that actions after 2030 create equity, health and prosperity in the UK for all.

As students, we can engage with the SDG’s on many platforms on a local and national level. This may be through advocating for sustainability within our institutes, creating student groups to target and address issues relating to the SDG’s within our community or by lobbying the UK government to implement policies which will help us achieve the targets.

The issues which we need to overcome to achieve the SDGs are deep rooted in society. They are not a quick fix, nor once they are achieved will they eliminate the need for similar strategies in the future. Instead they are just the beginning, a framework which we students can use to advocate for change, regardless of our educational background or sector. We are all global citizens; it is up to us to take on the responsibility to act on the SDG’s and control the narrative of our future.

This blog was written for UKSSD by Meg Rawlins, Vet student at RVC and member of Students for Global Health