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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals represent the international community’s plan of action for “people, planet and prosperity.”



On September 25, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

The United Nations has called for broad-based support of the SDGs, including active involvement by the private sector. We are committed to helping facilitate industry engagement and to identifying ways to work creatively to have an impact on people’s lives while achieving our company’s business objectives.

Throughout this report, you’ll see SDG disclosures in the left-hand navigation, which indicate the content on the page demonstrating how our work is aligned to help meet these goals.

“We are honored to play a role in the global efforts to achieve the SDGs. Through our ongoing commitments to address important health challenges, we are mobilizing the best of our company to help save and improve lives around the world.”


Our Priorities

As a global health care company that is committed to improving health and well-being around the world, SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) is at the core of our business and is aligned with our mission to save and improve lives.

In addition, while we realize that all of the SDGs are essential to fostering sustainable development, we have prioritized eight global goals as those where we are positioned to have the biggest impact.

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For the eight SDGs that we have prioritized as those where we can make a difference, we have identified existing metrics that enable us to quantitatively demonstrate our progress in support of the global goals.

The UN has identified subtargets for all of the global goals, against which corporate and governmental progress can be measured. While there are 169 targets in all, we have identified 11 targets for our priority SDGs that most closely align with our business.

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

As a global health care company, we believe we have an important role and responsibility in improving access to medicines and vaccines, and in helping to reduce the burden of disease around the world.


UN Target 3.1: Reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.

Women with improved quality of care through MSD for Mothers (cumulative)2,900,355 3,396,659
Women with access to modern contraception through MSD for Mothers (cumulative)3,775,907 4,038,980

For more information, please visit the MSD for Mothers page on our website.

UN Target 3.7: Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

Women potentially reached in FP2020 countries (cumulative) 14,066,477 6,900,000
Note: To learn more about the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative, visit
1 Number represents potential number of women who could be reached based on number of products provided.

For more information, please visit our Women’s Health page.

UN Target 3.B: Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and noncommunicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, and provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 3.B2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Number of products that are supported with differential pricing1, 235  35  40  42 42
Number of countries where inter- and/or intra-country pricing has been implemented3 114  121  123  125 128
1 Differential pricing intended to facilitate access for the at-need population.

2 Products include HIV treatments, vaccines and other patented products.

3 Countries as defined by World Bank 2013 GNI classification; includes UN-defined least developed countries.

For more information, please visit the Vaccines, Product Pricing, Research & Development, and Infectious Diseases pages on our website.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

Our company promotes and values global diversity and inclusion at every level of the organization.

We regard Global Diversity & Inclusion (GD&I) as a key business strategy to inspire, develop and unleash the potential of our people—holding ourselves to the highest standards of accountability for gender parity established by the United Nations—and knowing that progress for women will stall without sustained, proactive intervention.

UN Target 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 5.52014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Women on the Board17% 21% 23% 23% 23%
Women in executive roles131%  34%  31%  32% 32%
Women in the workforce48%  48%  48%  48% 49%
New hires that were female49% 50% 51% 49% 51%
Note: Our company has publicly disclosed EEO-1 information since 1999. Our 2018 data is available here.

1 “Executive” is defined as the chief executive officer and two structural levels below.

You may find more information on the Global Diversity & Inclusion page.

SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

Our business, suppliers, communities and customers all need access to clean water, and we are committed to managing the environmental impacts of our products throughout their life cycles—from discovery through manufacturing, use and disposal.

UN Target 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 6.42016 2017 2018
Total water use (million m3)20.7  19.6 20.5
Water use in extremely-high-risk areas (million m3)3.0  2.9 3.82
Water use in high-risk areas (million m3)3.4  3.0 2.99
By 2020, we will develop water conservation plans for sites in “high water risk” locations.On track
On Track
By 2025, we will maintain global water use at or below 2015 levels.3.5 million m3 below 2015 levels (15% reduction)
On Track

For more information, please visit the Water page on our website.

SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

We believe the private sector has an increasingly important role to play to ensure that we meet the goal of access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all by 2030. We have made a commitment to reduce GHG emissions and other associated air pollutants by driving energy efficiency improvements and purchasing more electricity from renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar.

UN Target 7.2: By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 7.22016 2017 2018
Purchased electricity from renewable sources11%  4.9% 14.1%
Renewable Energy
By 2025, at least 50% of our purchased electricity will come from renewable sources. By 2040, 100% of our purchased electricity will come from renewable sources.1
14.1% of our purchased electricity comes from renewables.
On Track
1 We have defined “purchased electricity” as electricity sourced from external suppliers, as well as renewable electricity that was generated and utilized onsite where we retained the renewable attributes or where we have obtained renewable attributes through contract.

Our Environmental Goals: By 2025, ≥50 percent of our purchased electricity will come from renewable sources. By 2040, 100 percent of our purchased electricity will come from renewable sources.

For more information, please visit the Climate Change & Energy page on our website.

SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth

Our company is dedicated to actively promoting opportunities for people regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, culture, age, disability, religion, gender identity, gender expression or veteran status.

UN Target 8.5: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 8.52014 2015 2016 2017 2018
New hires that were members of underrepresented ethnic groups (U.S.)22%  33%  37%  36% 36%
Note: Our company has publicly disclosed EEO-1 information since 1999. Our 2017 data is available here.

For more information, please visit the Global Diversity & Inclusion page on our website.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

Our product stewardship programs focus on identifying, and either preventing or minimizing, potential safety and environmental hazards throughout a product’s life cycle.

UN Target 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed upon international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment. 

PROGRESS ON TARGET 12.412014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) (MT)515 494 454 480 494
Sulfur oxides (SOx) (MT)49 48  37 37 30
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (MT)512 455 440 380 404
Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) (MT)1.5 0.1 0.7 0.1 0.3
Note: Previously reported data have been restated per our methodology, which includes adding facilities that have been acquired and removing facilities that have been sold as operating sites.

1 Data are estimated using conservative assumptions and factors, not measured or weighed.

For more information, please visit the Air Emissions page on our website.

UN Target 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

By 2025, no more than 20% of our global operational waste will be sent to landfills and incinerators.33% to landfills and incinerators
On Track
By 2025, at least 50% of sites will send zero waste to landfill.38% of sites
On Track
PROGRESS ON TARGET 12.52014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Operational waste sent to landfills and incineration24%  28%  30%  29% 33%
Landfill10%  15%  10%  10% 9%
Incineration14%  13%  20%  19% 24%
Hazardous waste generated (MT)44,120  30,345  35,246  35,652 38,413
Non-hazardous waste generated (MT) 39,612  39,511  37,353  36,773 35,517
Note: Totals may be slightly off due to rounding.

For more information, please visit the Waste Management page on our website.

SDG 13: Climate Action

We support science-based, international and national actions to address the challenges presented by climate change, including economic incentives for researching, developing and deploying low-carbon and renewable-energy technologies.

UN Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 13.12014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Scopes 1 and 2 GHG emissions (MT CO2e) 1,532,400 1,458,500 1,400,000 1,267,000 1,173,200
Scope 3 GHG emissions (MT CO2e)5,760,000  5,586,300  7,975,100  6,586,100 6,231,700
Note: Tracking of all of our Scope 3 emissions began in 2014. In accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, prior-year data have been adjusted to add or remove facilities that have been acquired or sold. Adjustments also reflect changes in methodology to ensure consistency from year to year. Scopes 1 and 2 emissions are calculated using the market-based approach.
GHG Emissions
By 2025, we will reduce global Scope 1 and market-based Scope 2 GHG emissions by at least 40% from 2015 levels.
19.6% reduction
On Track
Renewable Energy
By 2025, at least 50% of our purchased electricity will come from renewable sources. By 2040, 100% of our purchased electricity will come from renewable sources.1
14.1% of our purchased electricity comes from renewables
On Track
1 We have defined “purchased electricity” as electricity sourced from external suppliers, as well as renewable electricity that was generated and utilized onsite where we retained the renewable attributes or where we have obtained renewable attributes through contract.

For more information, please visit the Climate Change & Energy Use page on our website.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Given the immensity of the challenge of discovering smart, sustainable ways to expand access to health care, especially in areas with limited infrastructure and resources, it is only by working with others that we can we make the strongest contribution.

UN Target 17.17: Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 17.172014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Health care workers trained through our major programs and partnerships1137,000  19,000  32,000  74,000 67,000
Investment in partnerships for activities that address underlying barriers to health, such as health-system strengthening and capacity-building (in millions)1$32  $31  $28  $40 $37
People reached through our major programs and partnerships (in millions)267  188  293  311 357
1 Represents investments by our Office of Social Business Innovation, including our Office of Corporate Responsibility, MSD for Mothers and our company’s Foundation.

For more information, please visit the Social Investments page on our website.

PROGRESS ON TARGET 17.172014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Total recorded volunteer hours1109,932  80,585  214,862  114,903 114,393
1 2018 figures are based on employee self-recorded volunteer hours and volunteer hours communicated directly to the Office of Corporate Responsibility for certain countries. 2015 marked the first year in which volunteer hour reporting was based solely on employee self-reporting. Prior years included estimates for unrecorded volunteer hours. 

For more information, please visit the Employee Giving & Volunteering and Key Initiatives pages on our website.

SDG Index

While we have prioritized eight of the SDGs, our company is working toward all of the 17 global goals in some capacity. See below for links to information on our activities for each of the SDGs.

SDG 1: NO POVERTYSocial Investments
SDG 2: ZERO HUNGERPromoting a Sustainable Food Supply
Supporting Our Communities
Social Investments
Enabling Access to Health
Fellowship for Global Health
Infectious Diseases
Waste Management
MSD for Mothers
Product Pricing
Product Stewardship
Research & Development
Women's Health
SDG 4: QUALITY EDUCATIONProtecting Animal Health
Supporting Our Communities
SDG 5: GENDER EQUALITYGlobal Diversity & Inclusion
Human Rights
Women's Health
SDG 6: CLEAN WATER & SANITATIONPharmaceuticals in the Environment
SDG 7: AFFORDABLE & CLEAN ENERGYClimate Change & Energy Use
Environmental Sustainability
SDG 8: DECENT WORK & ECONOMIC GROWTHGlobal Diversity & Inclusion
Human Rights
Manufacturing & Supply
Sourcing & Supplier Relations
Manufacturing & Supply
Research & Development
SDG 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIESGlobal Diversity & Inclusion
Human Rights
Manufacturing & Supply
SDG 11: CITIES & COMMUNITIESSupporting Our Communities
Medical Outreach Program
Product Donations
Air Emissions
Environmental Sustainability
Sourcing & Supplier Relations
Product Stewardship
Waste Management
Climate Change & Energy Use
Public Policy Position Statement: Climate Change
Supporting Our Communities
Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
Supporting Our Communities
SDG 15: LIFE ON LANDEnvironmental Sustainability
Materials & Packaging
Waste Management
Supporting Our Communities
Human Rights
Our Company's Foundation
Health Literacy
Manufacturing & Supply
Fellowship for Global Health
Neglected Tropical Diseases
Priorities & Performance
Product Donations

To learn more about all 17 SDGs, please visit the United Nations’ website.