What is sustainable development and why it is an important issue
Development must meet the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The essence of sustainable development is to ensure a life of dignity for all and to reconcile economic efficiency, social inclusion and environmental responsibility in the present and in the future. We are living in a time of enormous challenges for humanity. Billions of our fellow citizens continue to live in poverty and are deprived of a dignified life. Inequality is growing both globally and within countries. There are huge differences in opportunities, wealth and power. Gender inequality persists in every society. Unemployment, especially youth unemployment, is a priority. Global threats to health, ever more frequent and violent natural disasters, armed conflicts, violent threats, terrorism, humanitarian crises and the resulting forced displacement of populations threaten all the advances of recent decades.
The limitations of natural resources and the negative impacts of environmental degradation, including desertification, drought, land degradation, water scarcity and loss of biodiversity, add to and increase the list of challenges facing humanity. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its negative impact undermines the ability of states to implement sustainable development.
At the same time, ours is a time of great opportunity. Significant progress has been made in meeting development challenges. In past generations, tens of thousands of people have emerged from extreme poverty.
Access to education has increased significantly for both boys and girls. The spread of mass media and information and global networking offer new potential for human progress, bridge the digital divide and develop knowledge-based societies, as do scientific and technological breakthroughs in different areas such as medicine and energy.
What are Agenda 2030 and SDGs 1?
On 25 September 2015, the United Nations approved the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), divided into 169 Targets to be reached by 2030.
It is a historic event, from different points of view, in fact:
- A clear judgement was expressed on the unsustainability of the current development model, not only on the environmental level, but also on the economic and social one. In this way, and this is the highly innovative character of the Agenda, the idea that sustainability is only an environmental issue is definitively overcome and an integrated vision of the different dimensions of development is affirmed;
- This Agenda is accepted by all and applies to all countries, because, in our deeply interconnected world, the goals and targets are universal and indivisible and concern the whole planet. This means that each country must commit itself to defining its own sustainable development strategy to achieve the SDGs, accounting for the results achieved to the public opinion and the partners of the United Nations;
- The implementation of the Agenda requires a strong involvement of all components of society, from businesses to the public sector/public institutions, from civil society to philanthropic bodies/philanthropic institutions, from universities and research centres to information and culture operators, and, among these, schools can play a leading role.
The process of changing the development model will/is monitored through a complex system based on 17 Goals, 169 Targets and over 240 indicators. It will be against these parameters that each country will be evaluated periodically by the UN and by national and international public opinion.
Here is the list of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by the United Nations for the years up to 2030.
Why discussing Agenda 2030 and SDGs at school
To build and live in a more sustainable world, individuals must become agents of the change proposed by the Agenda 2030. They need knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that enable them to make informed decisions and act responsibly in complex situations, and to move towards new forms of coexistence. This is particularly true for the younger generations. One of the key roles of the school is to stimulate cultural change and a switch in mentality. At school we are called upon to continually reflect on the cultural meaning and outcomes of learning processes. Every citizen finds in the educational institution an irreplaceable pillar for his or her own civic, social and cultural development.
SDGs are not additional content to curricular teaching. The Agenda 2030 is a resource that can be used to design the daily teaching of different subjects in a renewed way, providing new cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural stimuli to students. Global Citizenship Education is the approach that allows the integration between SDGs and curricular teaching, and the materials made available free of charge by the Get up and goals! project translate this approach into educational resources to be used in the classroom.
Get up and goals! on this site offers free educational resources in the languages of all countries participating in the initiative. The project addresses SDGs through four major global themes: climate change, gender inequalities, international inequalities, and migration.
To understand and address these crucial issues, Get up and goals! offers Teaching and learning units (TLUs) for secondary school. Each TLU is a living learning pathway, adaptable to each class, to the reactions, curiosity and involvement of the students, in tune with the teachers' educational project, their creativity and sensitivity.
Moreover, Get up and goals! provides an original textbook of global geo-history (world history) for secondary schools, innovative in its scientific and didactic approach and written by European university teachers specifically for this project. The text describes the development of universal human history by deeply interweaving it with the four major global themes.
Finally, the Get up and goals! project provides teachers with a set of assessment and self- assessment tools (SATs) to measure students' learning from a quantitative and qualitative point of view, in terms of knowledge, skills and behaviour.
Where to find resources
On this website, you can read an introduction on climate change, gender inequalities, international inequalities, migrations, which frames both content, and educational relevance, and during the life of the project, you can download free Teaching and learning units, the textbook of world history, and tools for assessment and self- assessment.
The same materials are available in all 12 languages of the Get up and goals! project.