EAUC gets Voice on SDGs Heard Ahead of the General Election

11th May 2017

EAUC is a co-signatory to the below letter, drafted by English Learning for Sustainability Alliance (ELSA). It is being sent to press and each political party outlining the sector's concern that the Government's Agenda 2030 fails to recognise the importance of the role of education in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is also no evidence that any of the political parties are addressing this issue in the forthcoming general election.

The SDGs were the focus of the recent EAUC Annual Conference which coincided with the day the UK Government launched its response to how it will implement the SDGs - Agenda 2030. Hence we feel our support of this letter is key, especially in the context of the upcoming General Election.

Education and lifelong learning and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

We are concerned that Agenda 2030 - The UK Government’s approach to delivering the Global Goals for Sustainable Development - at home and around the world fails to recognize the importance of the role of education and under Goal 4, fails to address the goal: ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. And, there is no evidence that any of the political parties are addressing this issue in the forthcoming general election (Environment must be at the heart of this election:Guardian,4 May).
Furthermore the OECD is seriously concerned that education systems are failing to engage with the big issues of the day such as climate change, growing inequality, environmental destruction and mass migration, so they are introducing the idea of ‘Global competency, into the 2018 PISA test.
According to the SDGs it is the right of every student to feel prepared for engaging in the SDGs. To do this we would recommend Section 78 of the Education Act (2002) be amended so that it stresses the need to instil an ethos and ability to care for oneself, others and the natural environment, now and in the future.
As the recent Environment Audit Committee (Select Committee) Report says:
the Government see the Goals as something for the UK to help other countries do, rather than drawing on other countries’ experiences in implementing the goals here at home- suggests that it has little interest in, or enthusiasm for, maximising the opportunities and benefits presented by the Goals. Successful implementation would not only encourage greater cross-departmental collaboration and policy coherence in Government, it would bring economic, social and environmental benefits to the UK. The Business & Sustainable Development Commission have estimated that the economic prize to business of implementing the Goals could be worth up to US$12 trillion by 2030.
Our concern is also based on the fact that since 2010 there has been a general diminution of emphasis placed on sustainable development by both central government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (NI) and Wales. The exception is Scotland where the government has placed a much greater emphasis on social equity and the environment as key policy targets..
We believe that the absence of any priority given by government to the role of learning for sustainability will seriously limit how the UK can implement many of its social, economic and environmental policies now and in the future. Nor, can it help the citizens of the UK to understand and where appropriate, take responsibility for their actions in a more ethical and sustainable way.
The 2015-2030 SDGs are a road map to a more equitable and sustainable future for all nations. We are asking for whoever forms the government after the 2017 election to consider how all government policies address the goals, and especially the role of education in helping us to negotiate the path towards sustainable development.
Yours Sincerely
 Professor Stephen Martin     Change Agents UK                                                                
Dr Elsa Lee - Communications Coordinator for ELSA
On behalf of:
  • Forest Schools Association - Jane Acton
  • Consortium of Development Education Centres - Clive Belgeonne
  • TEESNet - Andrea Bullivant  
  • Sustainability and Environmental Education - Ann Finlayson  
  • South West Learning for Sustainability Coalition - Mari Kershaw 
  • Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges - Iain Patton  
  • Gresham College, London - Carolyn Roberts, Professor of Environment
  • National Union of Students - Rob Young, VP Society and Citizenship
  • Greener Jobs Alliance - Graham Peterson  
We write as members of the English Learning for Sustainability Alliance (ELSA). ELSA’s purpose is to lead, promote and influence the strategic policy discourse on learning and sustainability in all contexts across sectors and interests in England, working with key practitioners, strategic bodies and policy makers.

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