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Transformative Education is Key to Achieving Sustainable Development

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

This blog is part of the blog series "Why this decade is more important than ever for education and the SDGs."

Written by Brenda Garcia Millan, Global Schools Project Officer

Nearly a decade has passed since the United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its 169 targets as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda, which included a 15-year plan of action to achieve the goals, recognized that implementing the SDGs would require the collaborative partnerships of all countries and stakeholders.

Today, countries worldwide have made considerable progress in some of the SDGs targets, especially those related to increased access to the internet and mobile networks. The development of new technology and innovation has been vital in these achievements and will continue to play an important role moving forward. Unfortunately, as the 2022 SDGs Progress Chart shows, most of the key targets, such as inclusive Education, food security, full employment, and greenhouse gas reductions, have seen limited progress and, in some cases, an alarming downturn. Ongoing crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and international conflict have magnified inequities and reversed the efforts to achieve the 2030 agenda.

As a project officer for the Global Schools Program, I care deeply about SDG 4 Quality Education, and I am constantly inspired by the Global Schools Advocates who are implementing sustainable development projects and initiatives in school communities globally. The 2022 Global Schools Program Case Study Guide for Educators offers a compilation of stories from teachers and school leaders worldwide who are transforming local communities by incorporating the SDGs into their school curricula. As case studies from around the world demonstrate, the work of teachers and educators in promoting Education for sustainable development (ESD) is crucial to achieving SDG Target 4.7, which aims to accelerate the implementation of Transformative Education around the world.

Transformative Education is an umbrella term for the common goals and methodologies of the various types of Education outlined in SDG Target 4.7, such as Education for sustainable development, global citizenship education, environmental education, climate education, peace and human rights Education, and others. Transformative Education provides current and future generations with the knowledge, competencies, values, and skills required to achieve the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement.

With over half of the world's population under the age of 30, schools and teachers have a tremendous opportunity to empower billions of young people to become global citizens and lead a movement for a better and more sustainable future. With only seven years left before 2030, it is urgent to scale up and coordinate actions to implement the SDGs by the target day and ensure that no one is left behind. A more sustainable world will never be a reality unless every primary and secondary school student is equipped with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to respond effectively to the greatest challenges of this century.

Needless to say, this decade is more important than ever for Education and sustainable development goals. As part of the Global Schools Programs, I will continue to collaborate to develop the tools, resources, and programs to support education systems around the world in shaping a more resilient and sustainable world.

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1 Comment

Thanks for this. I wanted to share an interesting, complementary effort of programs that are part of something called EPIC-N, the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network. EPIC programs are university-community collaborations at scale based on community-defined SDG challenges and matched to existing courses/students/instructors at 'nearby' universities. Started in Oregon (USA) in 2010, it's now been adopted/adapted across multiple continents. All of the thousands of project outputs are coded to SDGs and can serve as examples to other communities and a range of disciplinary university courses throughout the world on how to focus university capacity on community goals at scale. Some of those stories are here: And sorry if this sounds like sales - just trying to s…

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