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 more. Real progress will be difficult to achieve unless all children and youth worldwide receive a quality education. That is why education plays a central role in the SDGs. Data, particularly from the UNESCO World Education Report, clearly shows that education is essential to the success of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Agenda is an intergovernmental commitment and action plan for people, the environment and prosperity. It contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are integrated and indivisible, and take into account in a balanced way the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental." They illustrate the ambitious and universal ambition of the new Sustainable Development Agenda. They are the result of what is arguably the most inclusive consultation process in the history of the United Nations, with significant input from all sectors of society, from all actors in the international community, and from all parts of the world. All Member States, the entire UN system, experts and a cross-section of civil society, the business community and, most importantly, millions of people from all parts of the world have committed to this comprehensive agenda, which aims to address global challenges and promote the common good.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Education is a key for individuals to escape poverty and prevent poverty from being passed down through generations. It empowers those in regular employment to earn higher wages and provides a better livelihood for those in the informal sector. The 2013/14 Global Monitoring Report shows: If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could escape poverty, equivalent to a 12% reduction in global poverty.
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Education – especially that benefits women – is key to addressing malnutrition, the root cause of over 45% of all child deaths. Educated mothers are more likely to know and implement appropriate health and hygiene practices and have more influence in ensuring that household resources are used in ways that meet the nutritional needs of the child best.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Education is one of the most powerful tools to improve people's health. It saves the lives of millions of mothers and children, helps prevent and control disease, and is a critical element in combating malnutrition. Educated people know more about diseases, take preventive measures, recognize signs of illness early and use healthcare services more often.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Education equips learners of all ages with the skills and values necessary to be responsible global citizens. These include respect for human rights, gender equality and environmental 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 empower all women and girls
Education can empower girls and women to overcome discrimination and assert their rights. Education enables them to reach their full potential at home, in communities, in workplaces and in institutions. Completing an additional year of schooling can increase a woman's income by up to 20%.
Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
When a community understands the links between sanitation and health, significant improvements in sanitation usually occur. If the community is doing better economically, it stands to reason that it will be better able to provide modern water and sanitation services.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy
Like education, clean energy that is accessible to all is an essential building block of a country's social, economic and environmental development. Educated citizens are more likely to understand and use new and sustainable technologies.
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, 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. A one-year increase in the average educational attainment of a country's population boosts annual GDP per capita from 2% to 2.5%.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
The knowledge, skills and abilities of a country's citizens are needed to build and improve infrastructure - from airports to health and financial systems to communications infrastructure.
Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
Education contributes to a reduction in income inequality. With a better education, people from disadvantaged groups are better able to stand up for their rights and needs and participate equally in prosperity.
Goal 11: Make cities 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 knowledge and skills that they gain 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 skills necessary to manage sustainably can do so.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Education plays a critical role in preventing environmental degradation and mitigating, the causes and impacts of climate change. Environmental education programs are responsible for important progress in efforts to combat climate change. These programs can only be effective if a critical mass of a country's or region's inhabitants receive basic literacy and numeracy skills through primary and secondary education.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
The higher a person's level of education, the more likely they are to be aware of environmental problems such as overfishing of the oceans and to be able to advocate for the conservation of marine resources.
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
The higher a person's level of education, the more likely he or she is to be aware of the many environmental problems and to be able to work to preserve biodiversity, for example.
Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Education helps people understand democracy, promotes tolerance and trust that underpin it, and motivates people to participate in politics. Education improves people's understanding of politics as well as their ability to participate in it.
Education increases advocacy for democracy, especially where recent democratic transitions have occurred. Educated people are more likely to participate in elections.
Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development finance
Global partnerships and close collaboration are the most effective ways to achieve strong development results.