Achieving Sustainable, Community-Based Health in Detroit Through Adaptation of the UNSDGs

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Ann Glob Health


BACKGROUND: In 2012, the Rio+20 meeting initiated the concept of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals. The resulting document "The Future We Want" is best conceived as a roadmap toward poverty eradication and sustainable development. Although the SDGs were developed for low- and middle-income countries, many of these same issues face low-resource cities and communities in higher-income countries.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to use the SDGs as a platform to develop health-related goals for the city of Detroit.

METHODS: A 1-day workshop was convened in October 2015 including 55 representatives from government, academia, and community- and faith-based organizations. Four health-related SDGs were discussed: food security (SDG2); ensuring healthy lives at all ages (SDG3); access to potable water (SDG6); and making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable living environments (SDG11). Workshop attendees broke into 4 groups to determine how the SDG targets for these 4 goals could be adapted for Detroit. At the end of the day, each group presented its decisions to the larger group.

FINDINGS: Workshop participants expressed that the SDGs empower local communities to respond to their unique health challenges and to see themselves as part of a larger more global conversation about development and sustainability. Participants suggested that inclusive and participatory means of decision making were a significant component of the SDGs and that such a process is the direction needed to make community-focused changes in Detroit. Additionally, shortly after the workshop, a roundtable of participants representing 5 community partners began to meet monthly and has become an advocacy group for public health and addressing the city-order water shutoffs in neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

CONCLUSIONS: For participants and organizers, the workshop reinforced the hypothesis that the SDGs are relevant to Detroit and other low-resource cities in the United States.

Medical Subject Headings

Cities; Conservation of Natural Resources; Food Supply; Global Health; Humans; Income; Poverty; Public Health

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page