One has only to turn on the news to hear about the challenges we are facing in one, or several of the issues covered in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But the news isn’t all negative. The reality is that there are countless news items, most of which get very little attention, that celebrate successes, innovative and interesting ideas and new approaches. Here are a selection of recent news items that may be used in the classroom to generate discussions on the SDGs, their multidisciplinary nature and how we may move forward. Who knows, some of these may spark students to come up with, and implement, their own. (Click on the links for more information and resources).
Reporting: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development released the ESG Disclosure Handbook and Indicator Library. The handbook aims to help businesses manage multiple disclosure demands and increasing stakeholder pressure for disclosing environmental, social and governance information.
SDG 3, 9, 11, 12, 13
Spaces that provide real-time environmental updates: Hanhwa Galleria Seoul in South Korea is a mall that changes colours to let pedestrians know what the current air pollution levels are. If the levels of pollution are high, the building is red and if they are low it displays shades of green. This is in response to the mall’s campaign to encourage sustainable consumption as well as the alarming levels of dust and air pollution across Asia. Over 90% of children around the world inhale polluted air daily and air quality causes an average of 1.1 million premature deaths each year in China, costing its economy $38 billion.
SDG 3,4,9,10, 11
Work-Life balance: With flexible hours the norm, and almost two years’ parental leave for every child, Sweden’s capital boasts a happy and efficient workforce. Only 1.1% of the nation’s employees work very long hours, according to the OECD’s How’s Life survey. The How’s Life survey charts the promises and pitfalls for people’s well being in 35 OECD countries. (Note that summaries are available in 26 languages). The International Labour Organisation has several standards relating to work life balance.
Global risks: The World Economic Forum publishes The Global Risks Report. Nearly 1,000 decision-makers from the public sector, private sector, academia and civil society assess the risks facing the world. Nine out of 10 respondents expect worsening economic and political confrontations between major powers this year. The risks include extreme weather events, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, data fraud or theft, weapons of mass destruction and water crises.
Tackling food waste: South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Dumping food into landfill is banned and since 2013 there has been a compulsory food waste recycling system using special biodegradable bags. The cost of the bags helps further encourage individuals to home compost. The cost also helps cover the running costs of the scheme. It now recycles 95%. The world wastes more than 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year. The planet’s 1 billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food wasted in the US and Europe. Because of this it was identified by the World Economic Forum as one of 12 measures that could transform the global food systems by 2030.
SDG 1, 9,10,11,16,17
Curbing corruption: No country is immune to corruption. It is the abuse of public office for private gain and it erodes people’s trust in government and institutions, makes public policies less effective and fair, and siphons taxpayers’ money away from schools, roads and hospitals. The report takes an in-depth look at how corruption impacts government policies and operations, the fiscal costs, and how fiscal institutions can help fight corruption. The report also has an accompanying video.
The ripple effect: The Stockholm Environmental Institute has developed a practical approach that can be used to prioritize action on SDG targets and to identify the most effective partnerships and collaborations. It is based on an understanding of the real world interactions between targets in a given context. The tool shows the ripple effect of different targets on other targets.
Women and the SDGs: The UN Statistics Division produced a story map showcases how the geospatial perspective can enrich the analysis of gender indicators to follow-up and reviw progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. It highlights changes and progress towards the achievement of the SDG, providing insights from global, national and sub national data on three main pillars of gender: women’s economic empowerment, women’s voice and women’s safety and human rights.
SDG 6, 8,9,12,14,17
Protecting plastic: The world creates about 300 million tons of plastic waste every year and an estimated eight million tons of that makes its way into the oceans. The plastic industry has waged a decades’ long war to keep plastic on the market, despite the environmental impacts.
The world’s religions: To finish off our news items, the image at the top of this post shows the size and distribution of world’s religions.