International Nurses Day highlights the many ways nurses are leading the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals


On the occasion of this year’s International Nurses Day (IND) on 12 May, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) highlights and celebrates the many ways in which the tremendous work nurses carry out every day forms the basis for achieving the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Marked by a revamped version of ICN’s traditional IND kit, the Resource and Evidence guidance pack published this month along with its official website, and video, is focused around the targets adopted in 2015 by the UN in order to emphasise how nursing practice and nurse-led innovations are undoubtedly the catalysts for change leading communities, health care systems and policy makers towards the successful achievement of not only Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, but all 17 goals.

Directly at the heart of the patient-centred approach of the profession, the social determinants of health have always been taken into account by nurses when caring for individuals. No matter where in the world and with what means, nurses strive to deliver the best and most adapted care to their communities by identifying specific needs and thinking outside the box, overcoming societal, material and logistical difficulties.

These actions are still too often overlooked as “nurses just doing their job”, but what many –including nurses themselves – fail to recognise, is the invaluable contribution to sustainable development and sustainable health their initiatives, commitment and expertise represent for the common good of the planet.

“It is time that nurses’ voice is heard. Everyone in their lifetime has been or will be cared for by a nurse and that is precisely why individuals, communities and policy makers should all pay attention,” says Dr Judith Shamian, ICN President. “Investing in the nursing profession is essential for economic growth and the achievement of universal health care.”

“Nursing is the profession that is at the intersection of all SDGs, we are the only health care workers that have access to the whole picture when treating a patient and this unique position, coupled with a demanding training curriculum, makes us the voice to lead,” says Dr Frances Hughes, ICN’s Chief Executive Officer.

The Resources and Evidence guidance pack available on ICN’s eshop was received positively by prominent healthcare figures and advocates:

“Great piece of work“ – Luc Besançon, CEO, International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)

“This looks great and very relevant to the campaign” – Lord Nigel Crisp, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health

“This is BRILLIANT work – you should be proud.” – Kate Veach, Professional Research Officer, Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union

“A beautifully done piece that is both inspiring and very useful. A fantastic document for nurses.” – Marla Salmon, Professor of Nursing and Global Health at the University of Washington

The IND video is available for use at events and meetings. We welcome nurses to share their voice by uploading their own case studies on the IND website

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on 12 May, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. ICN’s International Nurses Day resources can be accessed on

For more information and to join your voice to the campaign, follow us on Twitter @ICNurses and use the hashtags #VoiceToLead and #IND2017. Share your stories!









COTS 2024