The United Nations website shares that: “The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all by 2030.”
Because these goals were formed by the United Nations, they are in no way specific to the United States. Therefore, the majority of the AFS partner countries are already using these goals in their orientation materials and in their school relationship building strategies. To that end, it is important for the volunteers and staff of AFS-USA to understand what they are and how easily they can be used to establish relationships with schools.
When educators in the United States hear “Sustainable Development Goals” their minds tend to go straight to the environment, climate change and recycling. These 17 goals are so much more than that. They encompass challenges with human rights such as Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, No Poverty, Quality Education and so many others. They do have goals that focus on the environment like Clean Water and Sanitation, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Responsible Consumption and Production. There are still others like Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and Decent Work and Economic Growth that, although are not focused on the environment or human rights, are still important to improving the quality of life for all life on our planet. Therefore, it is important for us to share with schools that these goals exist and how they can use them in their schools from kindergarten to high school, and from English Language Arts classes to Art classes. Here’s the link to download the full bundle of lesson ideas and resources relating to how to implement the ideas around the SDGs into a variety of content areas at the high school level. Here’s a Pinterest page with resources curated for a variety of grade levels about the SDGs that can be used to kick start or supplement any teacher’s lessons. Here’s a link to the scholarship program AFS-USA has created called Project: Change that is entirely focused on students learning about the SDGs and proposing ideas to make a change and impact in the world surrounding one of them. Go to YouTube and search Sustainable Development for tons of videos that help to explain and teach about the Sustainable Development Goals.
These goals and the resources mentioned above can be great tools to start a dialog with ANY educator as you begin to create new school relationships. By knowing about the SDGs and sharing these resources with educators, you are giving something to the school before you ever ask them to accept an exchange student. You can also use these tools…especially the Project: Change Scholarship…to start dialog with teenagers. The current generation wants to make a difference in the world. You can visit multiple school clubs to share about the SDGs and the Project: Change Scholarship. To learn more about connecting with clubs and extracurricular groups, please check out this article.