Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

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SDG3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

"In relation to SDG 3 'good health and well-being', the EU has made progress concerning life expectancy at birth, death rates due to chronic diseases, suicides, and accidents at work, as well as regarding health determinants such as exposure to air pollution by particulate matter and noise pollution. However, developments related to self-perceived health and self-reported unmet needs for medical care have moved away from the objectives. Similarly, as mentioned above, the EU is not yet on track towards the target of halving the number of people killed in road accidents by 2020 compared to 2001." ( 2017:14)

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An holistic and integral wellbeing is envisioned by most CLI, even if their actions are usually focuses on specific sectoral topics or projects. Ecovillages started with the intention to experiment different human settlements designs focused on the individual and collective wellbeing. From the physical to the spiritual dimension, passing by the cognitive development and emotional safety, ecovillages tend to integrate different elements (see diagram 1) on wellbeing-focused government process” 1. Several of these elements have the potential to increase the self-perceived health and decreases the suicidal rates. For example, ecovillages are known for the techniques used for conflict resolutions (such as social forums) as well as do highly promote personal reflexive and development practices (such as mindfulness moments and coaching). Inclusiveness is also practiced by the inclusion of people that are “lost” or “difficult” and some Ecovillages (such as Camphill and L'Arche movements) do go further and do fully integrate people with physical and mental disabilities into functional social systems 1. Also, most Ecovillages tend to be in proximity to Nature, and both Permaculture projects and Transition initiatives do nurture and promote Nature-Based designs in both urban and rural places. Living close to Nature, as well as creating green infrastructures (such as planting trees) in urban areas, is known to benefits human health (less mental distress and extended life span) as well as decrease air pollution and help alleviate noise 2,3. Transition Towns’ movement does consider, since its emergence, that half of the process and energy of the initiative community should be dedicated to the inner transition, individually and collectively 4,5. Ecovillages and Transition principles do include positive visions and inclusivity and their empirical successful ingredients do consider the involvement of all, and mainly the young and elderly, in making a more resilient local “human settlement” 1,4,5. By fostering more meaningful and trustworthy relationships in everyone’s community and valuing consciously the social capital, CLI vision of wellbeing can be the basis for a variety of policy applications 6.

Many CLI do promote physical exercise by encouraging physical work (e.g., gardening, building), walking and biking as main means of transportation, as well as foster the production and consumption of healthy food , potentially decreasing the obesity rates of its members and beneficiary community.

Many CLI do promote sustainable and local energy production systems, if possible, community owned 7,. These technologies are known to increase human health, namely by decreasing significantly the emission of air pollutants 8,9.


(Diagram source 1)


1. Hall, R. The ecovillage experience as an evidence base for national wellbeing strategies. Intellect. Econ. 9, 30–42 (2015).

2. Sandifer, P. A., Sutton-Grier, A. E. & Ward, B. P. Exploring connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health and well-being: Opportunities to enhance health and biodiversity conservation. Ecosyst. Serv. 12, 1–15 (2015).

3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Urban Nature for Human Health and Well-Being. 24 (FS-1096. Washington, DC., 2018).

4. Hopkins, R. The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience. (Green Books, 2008).

5. Hopkins, R. The Transition Companion. (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011).

6. Helliwell, J. F. Understanding and improving the social context of well-being. (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014).

7. Bauwens, T., Gotchev, B. & Holstenkamp, L. What drives the development of community energy in Europe? The case of wind power cooperatives. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 13, 136–147 (2016).

8. International Energy Agency. Energy and Air Pollution - World Energy Outlook 2016 Special Report. 266 (International Energy Agency, 2016).

9. Buonocore, J. J. et al. Health and climate benefits of different energy-efficiency and renewable energy choices. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 100–105 (2016).