Reporting of Achievements Against United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Five-Year Targets Reflect Company’s Accountability to Global Health Commitments
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In 2016, Johnson & Johnson was one of the first major companies to make a public commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building upon our Millennium Development Goals achievements, our commitment focused on achieving five-year targets in five areas—Global Disease Challenges, Essential Surgery, Women and Children’s Health, Health Workforce, and Environmental Health—where Johnson & Johnson was uniquely positioned to create sustainable and scalable health impact. These areas leveraged the company’s expertise, ideas and ingenuity to catalyze efforts toward achieving SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals).
We are happy to report strong results against our initial five-year SDG commitments, exceeding our targets in four of five areas. We did not fully achieve our target relating to Women’s and Children’s Health, primarily due to a change in strategy in 2019 that moved away from programs reaching consumer groups directly to focus on supporting the frontline health workers—especially nurses, midwives and community health workers—who serve them. In the 2016-2020 period, our programs supporting the five SDG focus areas reached more than 600 million people, including working with 134 partners to reach more than 433,000 health workers in the last year alone.
At Johnson & Johnson, we set bold, ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them. As a purpose-driven company, we are accountable to our stakeholders and the larger global health community on the commitments we make. That means we are transparent both about our successes and where we fall short. We are grateful to our partners for their tireless work and for providing timely data. An independent external audit confirming and validating the data reaffirms our collective commitment to factual and transparent reporting, and a learning culture based on continuous evaluation, reflection and program improvement.
Setting Targets and Reporting on Progress is a Journey
As the challenges are bigger than any one company or organization, we are working with like-minded partners and change agents around the world to identify, support and share solutions to issues that matter to our company, to our communities and to our planet.
Our team of insightful and driven Measurement and Evaluation (M&E) specialists track indicators, collect data and mine insights across the company based on a continuous learning approach that involves regularly assessing what’s working well and addressing what’s not. Our goal is to set targets and measure with intention, knowing we may not get it right the first time. Through ongoing open dialogue with partners and key stakeholders, we continue to fine-tune our programming for the benefit of everyone engaged.
For example, in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an estimated 18 million health worker shortage to achieve global health goals such as Universal Health Coverage by 2030. A pivot in strategy resulted in the formation of the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation to focus on strengthening health systems by supporting frontline health workers. The move would impact our stated Women’s & Children’s goal; however, it was determined to have a greater, more far-reaching and sustainable impact on women’s and children’s lives—and public health overall—for the longer term. In January 2020, we announced a $250 million commitment by the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation to support 1 million nurses, midwives and community health workers by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic only underscored the critical importance of investing in building a thriving health workforce that the world needs today and in the future.
As the world’s largest healthcare company, we know that human health and environmental health are fundamentally linked. While Johnson & Johnson has been setting public environmental performance goals for decades, our SDG climate goals reaffirmed our commitment to drive actions and impact beyond our own operations to make better health a reality for more people, in more places. That led to our focus on cities, where over 56% of the world’s population lives today, with the number continuing to rise. According to the WHO, in 2016 more than 80% of people living in urban centers were exposed to unsafe air, a number that rises to 98% in low- and middle-income countries. Cities are also estimated to contribute more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, making them an important nexus for climate actions. For the past five years we partnered with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to develop new methods to assess the health and economic benefits of cities taking climate action. Over that period, we helped support the analysis of projects across 30 cities around the world. Those projects were determined to result in air quality improvements that have the potential to positively impact 74 million citizens.
While numbers are impressive, we want to further develop and build our M&E strategy to understand progress beyond participant reach numbers, towards outcome measurement—how our programs have improved the well-being of our target participants. To that end, we continue to work with Johnson & Johnson teams and with our partners to build a more holistic picture of change with rich storytelling to accompany numbers and data.
Counting Down to 2030 by Leaning into the SDGs in Our Next Five-Year Goals
The recently announced Health for Humanity 2025 Goals are our most ambitious goals since Johnson & Johnson first began setting public-facing goals more than 30 years ago, and will help us deliver progress against 11 of 17 SDGs. The set of 21 new goals take on two of the most fundamental global health challenges facing humanity—pandemics and epidemics, and global health equity—while continuing to focus on people, planet and partners to build a more diverse, inclusive and representative workforce and protect the health of our planet through environmental stewardship. Each of the goals is accompanied by Key Performance Indicators, and progress against the goals will be reported annually.
The 2025 Goals build on the company’s long legacy and track record of setting and making progress toward corporate citizenship and sustainability goals and push us to have an even bigger impact by aligning with the SDGs, a shared global blueprint for peace and prosperity for all people and the planet. The Goals set the path for the next five years and beyond, and as we have seen in the last five years, as new health challenges arise and as new inequities come to light, Johnson & Johnson will be ready to leverage our breadth, scale and partnering power to meet the needs of the moment.