Cultural exchange : Activity report #7

Colombia and the SDGs: The Social Norm Viewpoint
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

 Manuela Parra

The concept of well-being, on one side, includes a whole spectrum of contexts, opportunities, visions, and advantages that each one experiences, and, on the other side, is based on which we can determine our level of satisfaction with our lives and our personal and collective development. For Colombians, well-being is a particular topic, according to the seventh-wave survey (2017-2022) conducted by World Values Survey, we’re the 3rd country with the biggest satisfaction towards life. On a subjective basis, most Colombians consider they have high levels of satisfaction towards their life, living a happy life and enjoying it. Specific factors in this survey included health condition, good relationships with friends and family, security, work life, and income (UNDP, 2023).
         However, in terms of quality of life we ranked 67th (US News, 2022), we got a score of 40/100 on the corruption ranking (OECD, 2002), 12th place on the homicide ranking (Redaccion DEF, 2024) , and so on. What is the reason then behind these last numbers? Colombia is still dealing with violence, mainly in rural areas, result of decades of internal conflict related to drug cartels. Additionally, with high rates of migration coming from our rural areas due to forced displacement and from Venezuela due to their dictatorship and conflicts, criminality in urban areas has increased severely these last few years. With this in mind, the question would be: how is satisfaction with life still so high? My short answer would be: We are a resilient society that resists and is kind to each other. This is the core of our social norm.

How are kindness and resilience reflected in Colombia’s social norms?

In Colombia, we have this belief that no matter your situation you should enjoy life. Many people believe that if you don’t have resources or you’re struggling you should not enjoy or have fun, but what’s the purpose then? Leisure is another form of resistance, humans are not money-making machines, we deserve to enjoy music, sports, and the company of our family and friends. Everyone deserves this, so we open spaces for free and for all ages to enjoy life.

         Some of the activities that we usually do are Ciclovia, which is every Sunday in the main cities in Colombia, some of the major roads close, and people can go and ride their bikes, skates, run, or walk during the morning; we also do aerobics or Zumba on the streets, with amazing music and dances. In Bogota, the Town Hall organizes music festivals for the most popular music genres (rock, jazz, salsa, and Hip Hop) for free and, thousands of people come with family and friends to dance, sing, scream, and enjoy. Also, we have the tradition of making “paseos de olla” with the family, which are trips to the river to cook for everyone a traditional dish and have a great time. These are just some examples of how we have this norm of enjoying life despite the situation.
         Having this thought also leads us to have a friendlier attitude between communities. According to the OECD (2022), 80% of people in Colombia believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need. Clearly, it does not represent 100% of the Colombian population, but I am sure that wherever we go, if we see that someone needs help, we will do something to contribute, it will not always be money, it can be company, a support network, protection or a way of communication, but we Colombians will always do something to help. Some examples include overall cooperation towards Venezuelan immigrants, the peace treaty made with the FARC, the largest illegal armed group in Colombia, which, successful or not, led the entire nation to debate the issue, the increase in support for feminism in the face of the high rate of femicides and similar crimes, through support groups, protests and others, which demonstrate the union of Colombian women or campaigns where farmers come directly to the city to sell their products given the unfair conditions and where the vast majority of neighbors try to buy better from them.
         In summary, this is how these two social norms in Colombia are related to well-being, from SDG 3. All societies have different ways of dealing with their realities, in Colombia, we stay active through exercise, dancing, and enjoying, and try to help our neighbors as much as possible, fomenting community.


1. Is leisure considered fundamental in your country as well? Or is it a reward?

Among the lab members, a grand majority concluded that leisure is not really a fundamental aspect of their lives but more like a reward after working hard. Some expressed having feelings of regret after not doing their best at work but still doing leisure activities. Some factors related to these opinions included limited time and resources as barriers to leisure. For a minority, leisure is actually fundamental and a result of a more spontaneous way of living.

2. Do you think as a society we are moving towards individuality or community? Is it good or bad?

The vast majority of the lab members agreed on the current global tendency towards individuality product mainly of hyper-connection and liberation from toxic family environments. It was also discussed how despite the internet being a channel for real-time communication across the globe, it’s also increasing loneliness and secluding kids in their homes instead of opening spaces for outdoor activities.


OECD (2022), OECD Economic Surveys: Colombia 2022, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Redaccion DEF. (2024). Colombia en alerta: ocho ciudades están entre las 50 más peligrosas del mundo. Periódico virtual InfoBae. Retrieved from:,solo%20por%20detr%C3%A1s%20de%20Birmania.&text=InSight%20Crime%2C%20otra%20organizaci%C3%B3n%20que,tasas%20de%20homicidios%20en%202023.

UNDP. (2023). Percepciones Y Bienestar Subjetivo En Colombia. Retrieved from:

US News. (2022). Colombia. US News. Retrieved from: