The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Universities have a critical and unique role in helping society address the SDGs. This guide focuses on one area where their potential contribution is particularly significant, but still largely niche, which is the development of “SDG implementers” through Education for the SDGs (or ESDGs). This means providing students and other learners within their sphere of influence with the knowledge, skills and mindsets to address the SDGs through their current or future roles.
The need to greatly expand society’s capacity to solve complex challenges has never been more important or more urgent, with just ten years remaining to the 2030 deadline of achieving the SDGs, the growing understanding of the urgency of addressing climate change, and now the COVID-19 crisis, showcasing how interconnected the environment, our prosperity and social wellbeing are. By expanding and mainstreaming ESDGs as part of a higher educational experience, universities can respond and adapt to the needs of our “new normal”.