What are the UN Global Goals?
Updated: May 11
On a previous blog post, I explained the initiative of Agenda 2030. This agreement for a more sustainable world is broken down into goals and targets. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are made up of 160 targets that combine to create the framework of Agenda 2030. These SDGs are also called “the Global Goals”. All of these titles are interchangeable... Agenda 2030, SDGs, and Global Goals are all referring to the same thing! Now that you are officially updated in the world of sustainability jargon, let's move on to the average teacher's point of view for a few minutes.
Many instructors shy away from sustainability because they are not very confident in the content. They don’t feel like they are “subject matter experts” but I’m here to tell you… you don’t have to be an expert! The resources are out there for you, you just need to have the confidence to step outside your comfort zone and explore the unknown. Here is how.
The Global Goals are an excellent way to break down sustainability. Many connect the word
“sustainability” with the terms “green” or “environmentally friendly” or “renewable energy”, but sustainability is much more encompassing. Each goal has environmental, social, and economic targets within it to address all aspects of sustainability. So keep those things in mind as you will soon realize that the goals can relate to your curriculum, no matter what subject you’re teaching (more on this later)!
In addition, one goal is a gateway to another. For example, in order to work towards the goal #1, No Poverty, you need to consider investing in a reliable infrastructure (goal 9), community gardens for food (goal 2), clean water filtration (goal6), and reduced violence (goal 16) could all play a role in reaching No Poverty.
I encourage everyone to explore the goals at https://www.globalgoals.org/ . Doing this will help you gain a solid foundation in understanding sustainability!
After your exploration of the goals, you may be wondering, how can this be do-able or measurable? Zero Hunger around the entire world is a very tall order. Well, each goal has targets that add up to the goal being achieved. You can find these targets on the same website as the global goals info.
There are a total of 169 targets between all 17 SDGs, not all the goals have the same amount of targets. As you explore the targets, you may see connections between other goals, which is great! Actively working towards one target will simultaneously help reach another goal and target, so it is imperative that these goals are viewed as a framework that needs to be addressed as a whole, not just focusing on one before heading to the next.
The UN Global Goals website is lacking what I will provide in this post... measurability. Have these targets been tracked? If so, how? One of my favorite resources out there on the internet and it is the SDG Tracker created in collaboration with Our World in Data. These are both great resources for educators, but the SDG Tracker consolidates relevant data to match the targets for each Global Goal.
When I mentioned in an earlier post about how sustainability needs to matter to every educator, this is why. No matter what subject you teach, you can match it up with not only a general Global Goal but dig into the targets and make them discussion points in your subject area. Have students know these targets exist, talk about where the problems lay, do research, have students use critical thinking to brainstorm solutions to reach the target faster, get the conversation and action going! All you need to do is step outside your comfort zone just for a little bit and explore what is out there. You will be shocked at the data and likely get hooked as I did!