Resources on the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
For the Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organization (COLLO) Symposium
October 3, 2016

See the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at

Download the new sustainable development agenda and a list of actions that you can take in your everyday life to contribute to a sustainable future.

On Sustainable Development Goals

Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2016). Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2016 (Report of the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development). Published by DAWN, Third World Network, Social Watch, GPF and ANND
Beirut/Bonn/Montevideo/New York/Penang/Suva, July 2016.

The Reflection Group, includes Social Watch, Global Policy Forum (GPF), Arab, NGO Network for Development (ANND), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), and Third World Network. This first annual Spotlight Report assesses the 2030 Agenda’s implementation of and structural obstacles in its realization. “The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues.”

Yorozu, R., UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. (2014, September). How lifelong learning shapes sustainable development. Presentation to the International Seminar on Empowering Community Learning Centers in Enhancing Learning Society through Education for Sustainable Development.

How lifelong learning shapes sustainable development – a slide presentation includes background information on UNESCO and lifelong learning, focusing on key concepts: a working definition of lifelong learning and three associated development goals, sustainable development, education for sustainable development (ESD). It addresses practical tools developed by UNESCO: The Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP); the Global Network of Learning Cities; guidelines for the recognition, validation and accreditation of learning outside of school (RVA), indicators and monitoring and evaluation guidelines; and curriculum materials, as well as recommendations for policy, research and resources.

UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (2016). Third global report on adult learning and education: The impact on adult learning and education on health and well-being, employment and the labour market and social, civic and community life. Hamburg, Germany: UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.

According to the Institute for Lifelong Learning:

The third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III) is released as the international community embarks on working towards the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Based on monitoring surveys completed by 139 UNESCO Member States, the report assesses global progress in implementing the Belém Framework for Action (2009). In addition, it investigates the impact of adult learning and education (ALE) on health and well-being, employment and the labour market, and social, civic and community life. This reflects a shift towards the more holistic view of education and lifelong learning embedded in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

See also the Third global report on adult learning and education: Key Messages and Executive Summary.

Wagner, D. A. (In press, 2016). Learning, Literacy and Sustainable Development: Inclusion, vulnerability and the SDG’s. Children and Sustainable Development: A Challenge for Education. Rome: Pontifical Academy of Sciences (Vatican) Springer.


Pope Francis has called on the world community to address sustainable development, stating that “no renewal of our relationship with nature [can be achieved] without a renewal of humanity itself.” This chapter reviews the ways in which literacy and education address the challenges of the new 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A number of key issues are discussed. First, international and national development commitments to literacy and basic education are reviewed and progress is noted. Second, we consider the impact of globalization that is already putting demographic, migration, technological and other pressures on our planet. Third, we look at how climate and environmental changes intersect with and carry their own impending consequences for sustainable development. Fourth, we review how literacy and schooling can foster both awareness and complex thinking skills concerning the complexities of sustainability challenges, and how to prepare the next generation of children and youth. Fifth, the vulnerability of poor and marginalized populations is delineated, along with new ways for multi-sectoral partnerships in agriculture and health. Sixth, implications are drawn with respect to the breadth of the SDGs, and their interaction with literacy education. Overall, we argue that greater investments in content awareness and critical thinking skills are needed to help people learn about and manage sustainability, and that special consideration must be given to the impact of sustainability on poor and marginalized groups.

Wagner, D. A. (2015, November). Learning, Literacy and Sustainable Development: Inclusion, vulnerability and the SDG’s (Video file). Presentation at Pontifical Academy of Sciences Workshop Children and Sustainable Development: A Challenge for Education. Rome, Italy.

On Rethinking Education

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2015). Rethinking education: Towards a common good? Paris, France: UNESCO.

Written in the spirit of Learning: The treasure within (UNESCO 1996), this is a report of a Senior Experts Group charged to reconsider the purpose of education and the principles that govern education and knowledge as common goods. The publication is intended a call for policy dialogue and as a platform for research on the future of learning.

Questions inspiring the ideas presented in this publication include: “What education do we need for the 21st century? What is the purpose of education in the current context of societal transformation? How should learning be organized?” (p. 3)

As noted in the Executive Summary,

The authors propose that both knowledge and education be considered common goods. This implies that the creation of knowledge, as well as its acquisition, validation and use, are common to all people as part of a collective societal endeavour. The notion of common good allows us to go beyond the influence of an individualistic socioeconomic theory inherent to the notion of ‘public good’. It emphasizes a participatory process in defining what is a common good, which takes into account a diversity of contexts, concepts of well-being and knowledge ecosystems. Knowledge is an inherent part of the common heritage of humanity. Given the need for sustainable development in an increasingly interdependent world, education and knowledge should, therefore, be considered global common goods. Inspired by the value of solidarity grounded in our common humanity, the principle of knowledge and education as global common goods has implications for the roles and responsibilities of the diverse stakeholders. This holds true for international organizations such as UNESCO, which has a global observatory and normative function qualifying it to promote and guide global public policy debate. (p.11)

Authors call for diverse stakeholders to share research findings and to articulate normative principles to guide policy and for UNESCO to provide a platform for debate and dialogue on such questions as:

While the four pillars of learning – to know, to do, to be, and to live together – are still relevant, they are threatened by globalization and by the resurgence of identity politics. How can they be strengthened and renewed? How can education respond to the challenges of achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability? How can a plurality of worldviews be reconciled through a humanistic approach to education? How can such a humanistic approach be realized through educational policies and practices? What are the implications o globalization for national policies and decision-making in education? How should education be financed? What are the specific implications for teacher education, training, development and support? What are the implications for education of the distinction between the concepts of the private good, the public good, and the common good? (pp. 11-12)