Advancing Sustainable Development Goals: A Collective Responsibility

In an era where our planet's sustainability and its inhabitants' well-being are at the forefront of global conversations, the importance of integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into educational curriculums cannot be overstated. The SDGs, established by the United Nations in 2015, are the world’s ‘to-do’ list, a universal call to action to ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Understanding and teaching these goals is a moral imperative for educators and schools to prepare students to be informed, responsible global citizens.

Sustainability as a Collective Responsibility

The time to view sustainability as a mere option has long passed; it is now an unequivocal necessity. This imperative transcends individual efforts and calls for a unified, collective response. Every one of us—individuals, communities, and especially educational institutions—must rally together toward a singular, noble goal: the preservation and betterment of our planet for generations to come.

Education is at the very heart of this collective endeavour. It holds the transformative power to equip young minds with the knowledge, skills, and values essential for nurturing a sustainable future. This mission extends beyond the confines of traditional subjects, permeating extracurricular activities and the very ethos of our schools. Integrating sustainability into our educational frameworks does more than just inform students about our time's pressing environmental and social challenges; it actively kindles a fervent motivation within them to engage in meaningful, decisive actions toward change.

Be The Change's Role in Advancing Sustainable Development Goals

In the quest to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the curriculum, Be The Change (BTC) by Orenda Learning, a forward-thinking approach to education, aligns closely with the ethos of the SDGs. Within the context of the global goals, BTC actively involves students in meaningful actions that contribute directly to achieving the SDGs. By engaging in this program, students are informed about the global goals, becoming integral participants in the movement towards a sustainable and equitable future.

Be The Change's curriculum encourages students to explore and understand the interconnections between their personal, local actions and global challenges, fostering a sense of global citizenship and responsibility. Through meaningful service initiatives and community engagement, students learn to apply the principles of sustainable development in real-world contexts, thus gaining practical insights into how they can make a tangible difference.

A Testimonial to Change

The story of Sumin Bae, Marcus Ayoub and team, (11th-grade students at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi) exemplifies the spirit of BTC's curriculum. Sumin's journey with Be The Change is a shining example of how education can inspire and mobilize the younger generation to take decisive action for our planet's future. After successfully completing the Be The Change program, Sumin's awareness of our global challenges was significantly heightened. In the following weeks, Sumin and his peers initiated the Youth Sustainability Alliance, a project to “accelerate sustainability initiatives worldwide."

Listen more about YSA here:

Please see below for the written version of this audio clip.

The team leveraged the foundational knowledge from the Be The Change program, establishing a solid basis for impactful initiatives through their project. This initiative reflects the program's ability to inspire students to take meaningful action and highlights the importance of equipping learners with the skills and knowledge to address community needs effectively.

Listen about how the SDGs ground Sumin’s and Marcus’ initiative:

Please see below for the written version of this audio clip.

Integrating Sustainable Development Goals into educational programs is a critical step toward fostering a generation of informed, engaged, and responsible global citizens. It is a collective responsibility that requires the commitment of educators, students, and the wider community. Be The Change leads the way, demonstrating the powerful synergy between education, service, and sustainability. Through stories like Sumin Bae's, we are reminded of the impactful change that can be achieved when young minds are empowered to be part of the solution to the world's most pressing challenges.

Shei Ascencio is a dynamic educator specializing in service learning, community engagement and global citizenship, collaborating with educators, youth, and organizations worldwide. Shei is a co-founder of Orenda Learning, supporting many aspects of the organization's growth. She also played a pivotal role in developing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion component of Be The Change.

Audio Clip 1: The SDGs are the compass guiding the Youth Sustainability Alliance's endeavors, imbuing their actions with purpose and direction. By igniting passion and action among young leaders, the SDGs allow individuals to channel their energy into projects aligned with their chosen areas of interest and diverse skill, whether it's renewable energy, climate action, biodiversity conservation or social equity. Embracing the SDGs, YSA members collectively strive towards a more sustainable and equitable future, leveraging their commitment to make a meaningful impact and inspire positive change for generations to come.

Audio Clip 2: One of YSA priorities is SDG four, and we hope to educate and empower the youth through youth sustainability conferences and mentorship for youth projects. These initiatives educate and empower young people by providing platforms for learning, skill development, networking and inspiration. By actively engaging youth and sustainability efforts, YSA aims to foster the next generation of leaders equipped to address global challenges and create positive change.

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