SDGs: also at your school

17 Sustainable Development Goals

In September of 2015, all 193 member states of the United Nations drew up 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.These SDGs offer the people on our planet a select opportunity to transform our world in such a way that benefits everyone.

Sustainable Development 

Sustainable development means “development that meets the needs of the present, without limiting the possibilities of future generations to meet their needs.” Basically: “Enough for everyone, forever”.

Sustainable development is often explained by the 5 P’s. Actions that contribute to these 5 P’s contribute to sustainable development. 

The 5 P’s

  1. People: End poverty and hunger in al forms and ensure dignity and equality.
  2. Prosperity: Ensure prosperous and fulfilling lives in harmony with nature.
  3. Peace: Foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
  4. Partnership: Implement the agenda through a solid global partnership.
  5. Planet: Protect our planet's natural resources and climate for future generations.

The SDGs are based on these 5 P’s. It’s about the people, prosperity, peace, our planet and the partnerships we need to achieve the SDGs. The goals are directed at a real turn of our economic and social model. They steer us onto a path towards an inclusive society, which provides prosperity and happiness for a large part of humanity through a good connection between all economic, social and ecological goals. Partnership gets a very important place in the SDGs, because we need everyone to achieve our goals: governments, companies, civil society organizations, civilians and schools too! 

Attention: the 17 goals form an indivisible whole! It’s impossible to achieve a goal without working on other goals, or, what can be positive for one goal might be negative for another. That’s why there’s a need for an integrated approach for this action plan towards 2030. Also when you want to work on the SDGs at school. 

How to work on the SDGs at school?


To achieve the SDGs before 2030 everyone needs to participate, schools too! Moreover, schools have the special assignment of providing kids and  youngsters with the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and insights to participate in the SDGs. Many SDGs can be linked to education goals (both subject specific and transversal goals). Working on SDGs at school, however, is not just about the “what” (content), but also (mostly) about the “how”. These principles of education for sustainable development and global citizenship education serve as a guide. 

System thinking

The SDGs are goals for the planet, a dynamic and complex system. That’s why system thinking is a very important condition before starting to work on the SDGs. System thinking is a different way of looking at and thinking about reality. Instead of focusing on separate parts of a system, the focus with system thinking lies in discovering connections, interactions... to better understand complex systems. 

The SDGs are one and undividable. It’s impossible to achieve a goal without working on other goals, or, what can be positive for one goal might be negative for another. System thinking about the SDGs is therefore crucial to formulating policies, to educating about these subjects and developing actions. 

Critical attitude

For every SDG there is an educational dimension in the SDG compass. It’s important to always start from facts and current events and to think critically about them. 

Experiential learning and developing related competences

SDGs@school wants to boost experiential learning (discovering, researching, exploring, experimenting...) with the SDGs. Because of the universal and integrated character of the SDGs, there is a lot of common ground with related competences like media literacy, debate and deliberation skills, future thinking, transition thinking ...

Local and global focus

The SDGs are universal. It is therefore also crucial to not just look at the school, it’s environment or Belgium, but the entire world around us. In formulating policies, educating about these subjects and developing actions, both locally relevant themes and the global aspect should be taken into account.

More info? 

More info about education for sustainable development:

More info on global citizenship education:


Why “SDGs@school”?

MOS helps schools widen their view and shows them that they too have an important role to play in achieving the 17 goals. With SDGs@school, schools will have different tools at their disposal to integrate the SDGs in a sustainable school. 

The SDG compass is meant as a tool. It shows the way to attach the school operation and the curriculum to the SDGs, with a broad view on the world and the environment. With the SDG compass you first make a blueprint of your school which shows how the world goals are already being addressed. In doing this exercise, it will become clear how the world goals can be integrated even better at school and classroom level. The SDG compass helps you to find out if sustainable thinking and acting at your school matches the 17 world goals.

The SDG ideabox offers inspiration to get started with the SDGs and the SDG word cloud and impact rose improve system thinking through the SDGs.