Universities and other higher education institutions have a critical role in helping
society achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their research,
learning and teaching, campus operations and leadership. This guide focuses on one
of the most important ways they can contribute, which is to harness their learning
and teaching functions to provide “Education for the SDGs (ESDGs)”, that will help
learners develop the necessary knowledge, skills and mindsets.
The need to greatly expand society’s capacity to solve complex challenges has never
been more important or more urgent, with just ten years remaining to the 2030 deadline
of achieving the SDGs, the growing understanding of the urgency of addressing
climate change, and now the COVID-19 crisis. By expanding and mainstreaming
ESDGs as part of a higher educational experience, universities can respond and adapt
to the needs of our “new normal”.
While ESDGs builds on the established field of Education for Sustainable Development
(ESD), it incorporates a broader agenda of issues, objectives and methodologies than
ESD, and responds directly to the greatly increasing interest across the university
sector in engaging with the SDGs.
The aim of this guide is to help accelerate the process of mainstreaming ESDGs in
universities, by helping stakeholders within and outside universities understand why
universities should engage with ESDGs, what ESDGs looks like from an institutional
perspective, and what steps they can take towards implementation. It also provides
resources, tools and case studies to inspire and support further action.