Global Goals for Sustainable Development: A World Lesson

Today is the launch of the “World’s Largest Lesson”.


A “World Lesson” is a good concept, and patently needed.

The summer months showed us the devastating effect of war, poverty and helplessness as we watched, in grief, the images of the displaced whose lives had been hugely affected by the negligence of humankind.

What if the next generation were kinder, more humane?

Is there a more important lesson?

From the website –

“On September 25th 2015, 193 world leaders will commit to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. 17 goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. If every school in the world teaches children about these goals, we will help them become the generation that changed the world.”

Follow them on Twitter: @TheWorldsLesson


This is the sort of target of which we approve – a unity in tackling some of the key problems in the world. Not only is it important for children and young people to know about these issues, this also gives them the opportunity to work collectively and collaboratively in active citizenship, respecting their individual and collective abilities – i.e. to think, to empathise, to make, to do, to innovate.

This is no gimmick, and if every school became involved, it really could make a difference.

Sadly, the Global Goals for Sustainable Development aren’t new. They’re a repeat or a reiteration of the Millennium goals but fifteen years on, as a global race, we are still far from achieving an end to poverty, clean sanitation for all, reduction of inequalities or doing anything to tackle the impending and dystopic climate change scenarios.

The 17 goals also complement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – something that we have frequently referred to in our posts. Some of the goals require us in the UK to support work carried out in developing countries – to provide resources for things that we take for granted, like clean, running water (Goal 6). Others are specifically pertinent to those living in the UK, for example, Goal 3 is all about “Good Health”. So children and young people could work collaboratively to ensure that our government adopts policies that enable all young people in this country can become more physically healthy.

GG for Sustainable Development

Below is a snapshot of examples of work that could be done by schools on each of the 17 goals – using the statements from the child-friendly document.


Statement Possible Action
1.       NO POVERTY

Build the resilience of people with less money so that they are better protected from climate-related extreme events, like floods and droughts, and other economic, social and environmental shocks

Ensure the curriculum offers opportunities for learning about environmental disasters in other countries, identifying short, long and medium term goals that young people can influence.
2.       ZERO HUNGER

End malnutrition by improving social programs for children, mothers and the elderly, and ensuring safe, nutritious and sufficient food year-round.

Develop and herb and vegetable garden. Provide learning opportunities for children and parents on how to use herbs in recipes. Make and sell products from own-grown sources.

Educate people on prevention and abuse of drugs and alcohol as well as on mental health issues.

Ensure that the curriculum, ethos and environment of the school is conducive to mental wellbeing. Include mental health and meditation in the curriculum.

Provide more opportunities for technical and vocational training to youth and adults so they can get better jobs.

Ensure that a broad and balanced curriculum is offered to all children irrespective of their intellectual ability. Provide community use of facilities in schools.

End all forms of violence against women and girls, including sex trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

Teach about sexual consent, enabling young people to make informed choices about sex and relationships.

Protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

Provide opportunities within the curriculum to learn about eco-systems. Work in collaboration with parks departments to develop local eco-systems.

Promote energy efficiency – more quickly developing technology that wastes less energy.

Do an audit of school to identify ways of reducing energy use. Involve school and class councils in this so they are taking control of their energy use.

Globally, take actions to give more jobs to young people.

Through economic education, provide opportunities for young people to develop social enterprise initiatives and manage money – e.g. running a healthy school shop, managing and editing a school e-newsletter.

Develop sustainable and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being.

Get young people to review the local transport network, identifying concerns and developing a campaign for greater access to and from their local community.

Ensure people who leave one country to live in another benefit from laws to protect them.

Topical! – Ensure that children know their rights. Have the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly displayed in corridors and classrooms. Campaign for the rights of the child.

Engage communities in discussions and planning for improvement of their cities.

Allow the school to be used as a hub for social and community action with young people from the school managing the committee.

Reduce the generation of waste through the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

In conjunction with young people, review waste and encourage recycling at home and at school.

Use recyclable products in activities in school.


Address climate change issues in their governments’ agendas and allocate resources to combat climate change.

Within the curriculum, identify issues that affect climate change in the UK and in other parts of the world. Hold a climate change conference with other schools to develop meaningful and sustainable action points.

Reduce marine pollution by 2025, since much of the pollution comes from human activities on land.

Visit (or adopt) a local area of water and identify ways to keep it clean. If the school isn’t near water, consider making links with a coastal school to identify ways of supporting their local area.

Reduce deforestation and plant more trees in order to reforest.

Ensure that the curriculum covers issues such as deforestation. Encourage growth of trees in the school and immediate vicinity. Adopt local trees to look after.

Ensure citizens are consulted and their governments make decisions with the interest of children and adults in mind. For example, children and young people must be consulted before a legal law that affects their lives is signed.

When consultations are sent out from Ofsted and the Department for Education, make sure that the views of young people inform the school’s response, encouraging parents to participate too.

Engage with the organisations and individuals who have been working for many years on various topics that relate to the Global

Goals. These organisations and individuals should be involved in work toward achieving the goals, as their experience and support

is necessary.

Through a democratic process, choose a voluntary agency that the school could work with to achieve some of the Goals for Sustainable Development – both in the UK and abroad.

As we said, these are snapshots of what could be done in school. Better still, each class in school could choose one or more of the 17 goals to study, research, develop action plans – for local and global action, start and coordinate campaigns, work with third sector organisations and so on to make a real difference to their lives and those of others.

There’s far more than a term’s work here. There’s decades.

Worlds Largest Lesson

There could be a commitment from all schools to develop a sustainable and planned curriculum for these global goals if we are ever likely to achieve these ambitious yet feasible targets.

This really could make a world of difference and we encourage everyone to not only look at the Goals for Sustainable Development but also to link this work to the Rights of the Child.

For more information, watch this short film.

N.B. You may need to register to get the links below.

See also,

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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