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Educating for the 2030 Agenda: beyond the SDG 4. II EN

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Gente | 0 comments


Educating for the 2030 Agenda: beyond the SDG 4. II

Miguel Angel Velasco cmf

Member of the UN Claretian Team

Doctor in Pedagogy

4. The new features of the 2030 Agenda


Which features are the most innovative and transcendental in the 2030 Agenda? Which are the 2030 Agenda characteristics that give to this document the virtuality to become like a common horizon to transform our world into a place where “nobody will be left behind”?


1. The Agenda considers the countries of the world as one whole reality. The interconnection between areas, organizations, companies, and governments is so remarkable that our world is like a network marching in common.


2. Each country has to specify the 17 objectives for its situation. Gross Domestic Product by Person is not a valid instrument to compare countries; there are many more aspects to consider to measure Human Development. Each country has to disaggregate the main statistics figures, looking at the situation of every social group in its territory with respect to the fulfillment of the SDG. It is necessary to increase the equity.


3. As a consequence of the prior feature, international cooperation has to change its objectives and procedures. The developed nations must stop giving funds to developing nations following their own criteria; the criteria to select developing needs and projects have to come from each developing country from the 2030 Agenda framework. The International Cooperation has to support and collaborate in the areas that every country has introduced in his 2030 Agenda Plan. Of course, in parallel, the developing country has to be transparent, and accountability has to be a characteristic of cooperation.


4. Multilateralism, considering the cooperation between countries, creating areas for strong collaboration. There are problems that the country can solve, others can be solved by countries working together in a concrete geographical area, but some issues are impossible to solve without global and mutual efforts.


5. The UDHR is not explicitly mentioned in the 17 SDG, but the spirit of Human Rights is present in many targets of the 2030 Agenda. The link between UDHR and the 2030 Agenda is clear: the 2030 Agenda gives ways to implement the UDHR, and Human Rights are the core of the Agenda. But it is possible and necessary to increase the Human Rights Declaration’s presence in future documents.  This will make the link between the two documents clearer.


6. The 2030 Agenda, 17 SDG, and 169 targets create not only a network but a system. Each SDG-Target is linked with the others; this is the base to confirm that they are a system. If we take off one of the elements in a system, the inter-relation of the group of items changes to create a different reality. In a system, all things considered, create a new reality that is greater than the components’ simple addition. SDG17-169Targets are not a simple addition of items; they are an entire system.


7. Civil Society was vital in preparing the 2030 Agenda, but civil society is also considered essential in its implementation. The Universities, Research institutes, NGOs, Donors, Companies; everybody is necessary for work that will not end in 2030. This kind of attitude, working all together, facing the world’s challenges together to fulfill the Agenda, is not only until 2030 but has to be the usual way for working.


8. The Agenda presents a perfect integration and coordination between the three pillars of the (Human) Sustainable Development, People, Planet, Progress. But adding the last two “P” to the Agenda gives the SDG 2030 even more UDHR flavor; these two new “P” are Peace and Partnership.


Eight main features to say that we are at the new paradigm to understand our world and the cooperation between countries. We have a plan for the future of the world: to make possible a more fraternal world “leaving no one behind.” Perhaps is too idealistic? I think it is not impossible, but we have to decide to do it. Maybe this kind of program needs a philosophical framework to understand why it is crucial to have it and have a horizon for our world. I am sure Amartya Sen or Jeffrey Sachs found the reason for fighting for this ideal, but I understand why it is so difficult for ordinary people to understand the novelty of the 2030 Agenda. Because of that, education is essential; it is the leverage for change; a lifelong education for children, teenagers, youth, and adult people, because it is a paradigm change. It could be useful to consider the SDG 16 and SDG 17 now before concluding with the SDG 4.

5. Highlighting the features from the SDG16 and the SDG17


The SDG 16 presents us a panorama, inside and outside each country, linked to Human Rights. It is essential to construct reliable government institutions in each country; it is the appropriate way to take care of minorities and fulfill human rights. The international cooperation, not only from developed countries, should give support in dialogue to the countries that need it (SDG 16.a) and is necessary for the participation of the developing countries in global governance institutions (SDG 168). This SDG sounds as if a new international and national order were at the beginning, as it were the announcement of a new era, but this impression grows much more if we add the SDG 17.


The SD 17 is about strengthening the Global Partnership to implement the 2030 Agenda. The SDG talks about Finance, Technology, Capacity-building, Trade, and Systemic issues. It is necessary to work in common in every aspect of international relations; the Agenda claims for generous cooperation between all the Earth states but demanding a special supporting effort by the developed countries. Once again, this collaboration has to put aside paternalist or colonialist attitudes: it is necessary to respect each country’s policy space and leadership to establish and implement policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development.”

6. Arriving at Education as the critical point for transforming the world


I am an educator, so I am convinced education is the most powerful leverage to improve people and societies and, of course, the world. The 2030 Agenda extends the goal for education presented by the MDG, talking about lifelong education; the challenges are so immense that it is impossible to leave anybody out of this effort to renew possibilities for teaching-learning. Amartya Sen, turning our sight once again to him, talks about the capacities; without an education that gives you an open mind to acquire knowledge to think about a different existence, freedom is not possible. If you do not have the “capacities” to be free, you will not participate in changing the world; education is fundamental to acquire or to be aware of your capacities. Amartya Sen is a source of a new life without limit, but for this short essay, there is a target that can give us a clarification about the correct way to transform the awareness of the people about the 2030 Agenda revolution; this is the SDG4. Target 7 of this SDG4 says: “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.

This target is fundamental if we want to open minds, hands, and hearts to the 2030 Agenda. It is only one within 169 targets but is one of the most important of them thinking about transforming attitudes. We have to spend time, efforts, and imagination to teach that this Agenda is not a collection of goals and targets to achieve but much more. During this disastrous time of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has been typical to hear people saying that we have to forget the 2030 Agenda because there are other things much more critical. This kind of person has not understood the meaning of the 2030 Agenda; that is the horizon to rebuild the world that will be, unfortunately, as was 20 years ago in terms of Human Development. But to achieve their change of attitude, it is necessary to patiently explain and educate them on the true meaning of the 2030 Agenda. It is needed to do it with people of every age, but also with governments, NGOs, companies, universities, schools, churches, religions, international cooperation agencies, etc., Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is coming to be a real universal law: slowly but surely.

Miguel Angel Velasco cmf

Member of the UN Claretian Team

Doctor in Pedagogy



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