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SDG Academy

Transforming Our World: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

SDG Academy via edX


In this course, learn all about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In September 2015, the world’s leaders signed on to this new agenda, answering the call for a global vision of important social, economic and environmental needs to support the planet and its people in long-term prosperity and survival. The goals include a set of key areas of focus, as well as detailed targets to put our planet on track for this continuing sustainability through 2030 and beyond.

Sustainable development is not just a problem for future generations. It is a shared global responsibility now and forevermore to be thoughtful stewards of our entire world – from developed countries to developing countries, from high-level policymakers to individuals.

This course is for:

  • Anyone new to the concept of the Sustainable Development Goals who wants to understand what they are, why they’re important and how to achieve them
  • Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students interested in the key concepts and practices of sustainability
  • Policymakers and sustainable development practitioners looking for a concise overview of the goals and their targets
  • Private-sector actors, such as those who work in corporate sustainability and responsibility or at universities – who want their work to be more sustainable and align with global progress


Module 1: Getting to Know the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2012, during the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil and the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, the world's leaders set in motion the process that would lead to the adoption of the SDGs in September of 2015. In this module we walk through the history of the sustainable development agenda.

Module 2: Sustainable Development Plans

The 17 SDGs provide a collective ambition for the planet. To achieve the SDGs, the next step is to create Sustainable Development Plans at the country level. These strategies are essentially backcasting exercises that use the SDGs as an end point from which to plan backwards to the current day and that carefully contextualize the SDGs for the country in question.

Module 3: Technology, Innovation, and the SDGs

The achievement of the SDGs depends heavily on the application of innovative and modern thinking and technologies. This is particularly critical for challenges such as the decarbonization of the economy to mitigate the effects of climate change. Information and communication technologies also present unique opportunities for a range of sectors.

Module 4: Good Governance and theSDGs

Global cooperation is critical to achieve the SDGs. In particular, cities have a critical role in pioneering Sustainable Development planning in collectively contributing to the ambition of sustainable development. Efficiently disseminating the necessary technologies, knowledge, and best practices and mobilizing financing are foundational for the achievement of the goals. Both rely heavily on global cooperation and the effective deployment of public-private partnerships.

Module 5: Business and theSDGs

The SDGsare not an agenda for policy makers alone. Most of the world's economic activity, knowledge generation, and investment is driven by an efficient private sector. And while you cannot have a strong private sector without an effective and structured public sector, business must play a role in sustainable development.

Module 6: Universities and theSDGs

Universities around the world are fundamental to the Sustainable Development Agenda and share a core responsibility in advancing the agenda in their respective countries. Universities, serving as hubs of innovation, accelerate exponentially the creation and exchange of knowledge and generate an ecosystem in which solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges can collectively be addressed by academia, business, and civil society.

Taught by

Jeffrey Sachs


4.6 rating at edX based on 8 ratings

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