Collective Goals for a Sustainable Future

“Be a global citizen. Act with passion and compassion. Help us make this world safer and more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us. That is our moral responsibility.” – United Nations Development Program

Setting goals is an important part of educating for sustainability. We don’t often get into a vehicle and begin moving forward without identifying our destination. In fact, more often than not, we consider the most efficient and effective way of getting there before we start the journey. We ask our students to set goals for their learning journey, and we set goals for ourselves as educators, but what about collective goals towards creating a word that works for all?

In 2015 the SDG’s became known more commonly as the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Whether you are familiar with the Global Goals or this is the first you have heard of them, this short film will inspire you to join this worldwide action towards a sustainable future:

The Sustainable Development Goals are the United Nation’s call to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They aim to bring the world together and set a definitive plan to make the planet a better place, and we can use them to focus our learning activities on specific outcomes. In total there are 17 global goals agreed upon by 193 nations to address inequality and climate change by 2030. Any of these goals could be the inspiration for lessons in Education for Sustainability.

Global Goals Website

Here are some of our favorite ways to engage with the Global Goals Website

  • Watch the video for the numbers in action and see the success of where we are at now and how far we have to go.
  • Click on a Global Goal that you care about and commit to programming that aims to solve this problem.
  • Click the “Schools” link and explore the lesson libraries, educators guide, and watch “The World’s Largest Lesson 2016”.

How can we use the global development goals to plan and organize our curriculum?  In the Middle School and High School at Green School, aligning with one or more of the SDGs is an important aspect of our curriculum design.

Having students engage with these 17 goals is part of challenging them to be systems-thinkers and change-makers.  One of our favorite activities to familiarize students with the SDGs is to create “playing cards” out of them and ask each student to arrange them in order of the issues they are most passionate about.  Ask them to identify the top three goals in their “hand” and discuss in small groups why they chose these three. Finish with a “Goalseye” activity, asking each student to identify how they can engage with this global goal in respect to themselves, their community, and their world.  Here are some templates to create SDG cards from Global Scouting’s Active Global Citizen Site:

Click to access SDG-1-6.pdf

Click to access SDG-7-12.pdf

Click to access SDG-13-17.pdf

Here is a template from Green School for Educators that you can use for goal setting:

This content was adapted from our online teacher training programs. If this subject matter interests you, we have more resources to dig deeper.  Go to to get our free Educator Pack and find out when our next cohort begins for our tranformative online course in Educating for Sustainability.  Work with a group of Educators from around the world and two Green School mentors to ground your teaching practice in sustainability and creating a world that works for all.

If you can make it out to Bali, join one of our incredible Green Educator Courses at the Green School campus.  This is a life-changing experience and inspirational professional development for anyone wishing to dig deep into EFS.

Don’t forget to connect to our facebook group and join our lively conversation.

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