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Earth Day: Using the SDGs as an Actionable Framework

Each year, Earth Month culminates in Earth Day, April 22! The theme for Earth Day this year is “Invest in Our Planet,” which is a call to action for individuals, communities, and countries to get involved to ensure a healthy, prosperous future for our shared home. When we view ourselves as meaningful contributors to the greater world, we begin to take responsibility for our actions and the actions of others, too.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are intrinsically intertwined with the efforts to stop climate change as they break down different areas for improvement in our global community and provide steps on how we can work to leave the world a better place. Read on to learn more about how making progress toward achieving the SDGs can help the planet on this Earth Day.

Build foundations through education.

The first step to lasting change is through a solid foundation of education. When we have an understanding of the root causes contributing to an issue, we can identify the most effective and efficient ways to address it. However, that is easier said than done when there are many barriers that prevent young people from accessing opportunities for quality education.

SDGs 1 and 2 focus on eliminating poverty and hunger globally as they are basic needs that must be met before educational experiences can be sought out. Both of these issues have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider donating clothes, hygiene products, and children’s toys to your local homeless shelter or giving your time to a community garden that can improve access to fresh, nutritious food.

SDGs 5 and 10 focus on inequalities that impact certain demographic groups, including inequality based on gender, race, and socioeconomic status. By finding ways to improve these disparities, we are able to inform a larger portion of the population and band together to create more widespread solutions to the climate crisis. Listen to and uplift the voices of people from marginalized communities who seek to make a difference.

Take action.

Once you feel you know enough about an issue to take informed action, find an area of interest to dedicate your efforts to. SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, and SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production are important target areas that offer great examples of how you can make a difference in your local community.

By raising awareness, joining initiatives, or developing your own programs, there are many ways you can contribute to helping our earth. Whether you commit to sustainable fashion, minimize your fossil fuel usage, or donate soap and water to a nearby organization, you can make a change that has a ripple effect by encouraging others around you to do the same. Get involved in your local and statewide government elections, as candidates have the ability to use their platforms for necessary change!

Ensure a brighter tomorrow.

Once we begin to take action, what happens next? We must go beyond reversing current damage by finding ways to leave the world better than we found it for the next generation. SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions are key goals in making lasting change.

SDGs 14 and 15 focus on life below water and on land. As we make progress toward the other goals, we need to keep these in mind as they are essential in the health of our terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It is our job as humans to take responsibility for the impact we have made on the world and to find innovative ways to adapt so that we can live in harmony with all other living things on Earth. As educators, we can also lead by example to show our students what it means to be conscious contributors to our interconnected global society so that we can all work together to create a better world.

How do you plan to celebrate this Earth Day and commit to more sustainable practices in your life? Share with us on Twitter @ParticipateLrng or using the hashtag #unitingourworld. For more information on how to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals into your classroom, check out this blog post.