How does sustainable development increase people's participation?

Education and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015. The SDGs outline a new and ambitious global agenda to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health, enable equality, protect the planet and much more. Real progress will be difficult if not all children and young people around the world receive a quality education. Education therefore plays a central role in the SDGs. Data, particularly from the UNESCO World Education Report, clearly shows that education is essential for the success of all 17 sustainable development goals.


Unpacking SDG 4.
German UNESCO Commission, 2017

Goal 1: End poverty in all forms, everywhere

Education is a key for individuals to escape poverty and prevent poverty from being passed down through generations. It enables those in regular employment to earn higher wages and a better livelihood for those in the informal sector. The calculations of the World Education Report 2013/14 show that if all students in low-income countries left school with a basic knowledge of reading, 171 million people could escape poverty, which would correspond to a reduction in global poverty of 12%.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and better nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

Education - especially the one that benefits women - is key to tackling malnutrition, the root cause of over 45% of all child mortality. Educated mothers are more likely to know and implement appropriate health and hygiene practices, and to have more leverage to ensure budget resources are used in ways that best meet the child's nutritional needs.

Goal 3: Ensure a healthy life for all people of all ages and promote their well-being

Education is one of the most powerful tools for improving people's health. It saves the lives of millions of mothers and children, helps prevent and contain disease, and is a key element in combating malnutrition. Educated people know more about illnesses, take preventive measures, recognize the signs of illness at an early stage and use health services more often.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive, equitable, high-quality education and opportunities for lifelong learning for all people

Education equips learners of all ages with the skills and values ​​they need to be responsible global citizens. These include respect for human rights, gender equality and ecological sustainability. Investing in education and strengthening the education sector are key to the development of a country and its people.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and self-determination for all women and girls

Education can empower girls and women to overcome discrimination and assert their rights. Education enables them to develop their full potential at home, in communities, in companies and in institutions. Completing an additional school year can increase a woman's income by up to 20%.

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

If a community understands the connections between sanitation and health, there are usually significant improvements in sanitary facilities. If the community is doing better economically, it stands to reason that it will be better able to provide modern water supply and sanitation.

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and contemporary energy for everyone

Like education, clean and accessible energy is an essential component of a country's social, economic and ecological development. Educated citizens are better able to understand and use new and sustainable technologies.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Education is one of the strongest drivers of economic growth and prosperity. Education not only helps individuals escape poverty, it also generates productivity and thus promotes economic growth. An increase in the average educational attainment of the population of a country by one year increases the annual GDP per capita from 2% to 2.5%.

Goal 9: Build a resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and support innovations

The knowledge, skills and abilities of a country's citizens are necessary to build and improve infrastructure - from airports to health and financial systems to communications infrastructure.

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and between countries

Education helps reduce income inequality. With better education, people from disadvantaged groups are in a better position to stand up for their rights and needs and to participate equally in prosperity.

Goal 11: Make cities and settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Through education, people are able to understand, support and develop creative solutions that are the fundamental components of a sustainable city or community.
Good urban planning, efficient energy use, good water supply and wastewater management, social inclusion and other elements of a well-functioning community need people with the knowledge and skills that they acquire through quality education.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Education increases the chances that people will use energy and water more efficiently and recycle household waste. Only those who have the knowledge and the necessary skills to do business sustainably, for example, can do so.