Where is Injury Prevention in the Sustainable Development Goals?

Written By: Tracey Ma and Amy Peden

Effective action requires a strategy which encompass all activities and key players necessary to achieve desired goals and outcomes. Unfortunately, the world’s long-term strategy to address major global challenges such as poverty, environmental protection, health and wellbeing is missing a key component. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) unite 99% of the world’s nations in focusing efforts on areas of key global concern, but largely fail to advance the prevention of injury as a strategic objective.

While the burden of injury is increasing with 4.48 million injury deaths globally in 2017, the prevention of injury appears explicitly in only two targets: SDG 3.6 and SDG 11.2 (both related to road safety). However, injury prevention efforts can be advanced substantially by integrating them within the broad range of SDG goals. In this State-of-the-Art review, published by Injury Prevention in September 2020, we discuss several global injury prevention priorities and opportunities through an SDG lens. We link injury prevention to a wide range of sustainable development agenda items such as urbanisation, population shifts, water safeguarding, and corporate social responsibility.

For example:

  • To reduce road transport injuries, we should re-consider the entire urban fabric within which roadways and public spaces are a part, in the context of a larger mission to promote sustainable cities and communities.
  • To reduce drowning incidents, we should safeguard water systems per WASH targets, as daily contact with water for work, transport, agriculture, and nourishment is implicated in injury risk.
  • To reduce fall-related injuries, we should consider the system level strategy of age-friendly cities as a means of making environments safer for older people.

What this new approach means is that the days of working in silos are long gone. Collaboration allows us to maximize synergies and achieve better together. So, what can we do?

1. Plan – Identify the opportunities for intersection between the SDGs and injury prevention

  • Think laterally about the ways in which preventing injuries will lead to broader social and environmental change.
  • Make the case for the additional benefits that investment in injury prevention will achieve to potential donors

2. Partner– Cultivate partnerships within, and outside of injury prevention, with those working on broader global priorities.

  • Explore opportunities with government at all levels for injury prevention within broader policy change
  • Find entry points for injury prevention discussions within those working on adjacent global agendas such as climate change, technological advances, and population shifts

3. Act – Broaden your scope of work to make explicit the connection between injury prevention and the SDGs.

  • Find opportunities to link the SDGs into your injury prevention research


Click here for the full Injury Prevention article.

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