Jeffrey Sachs is a guiding star of sustainable development, which is why I wanted to feature him in my weekly segment Occhio al futuro. He’s an esteemed academic, a dynamic promoter of a necessary transition and is President of the United Nation’s SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network). We interviewed him to talk about Mission 4.7 which he launched with the Vatican, Unesco and the Ban-Ki Moon Foundation.
Cristina: Today we’re featuring a mission that might not be spectacular like the one on the moon but it could have the same importance. It’s Mission 4.7 – named after goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda and it’s seventh target: to ensure, by 2030, that all students in the world receive education for sustainable development and global citizenship. It was launched by Pope Francis, which is why we’re on the roof of a church that already produces sola energy, and by Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General who ratified both the 2030 Agenda and negotiated the Paris Agreement in 2015, also by UNESCO and other organizations. The mission is led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Pelé of sustainability. He was one of the key advisors for the drafting of the 2030 Agenda and is Director of the SDSN – the UN network dedicated to solutions for sustainable development. Professor Sachs, thank you so much for being with us. What was the genesis of this mission?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: We can see everywhere that young people are empowered with the knowledge of our challenges, they really take up the cause and it’s been inspiring to watch young people around the world make the call for sustainable development. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to achieve climate safety. So the basic motivation is to help empower young people.
Cristina: How influential have the Pope and Ban-Ki Moon been in launching this mission?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Pope Francis’ global pact on education, Ban-Ki Moon’s tremendous efforts on global citizenship come together in this inspiration and they are guiding Mission 4.7.
Cristina: In the spectrum of the whole Agenda, how significant is goal 4 and target 7?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: We cannot achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals if we don’t know what we’re doing! If we don’t understand our situation, our reality, our potential to build a sustainable development future. I believe that SDG 4, which is the goal for universal access to quality education, is at the center of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and I believe that target 4.7, which is education about sustainable development itself, and about our ability to cooperate together across cultures and across nations, with global citizenship, is absolutely at the core of achieving the 17 SDGs.
Cristina: Thank you very much, I look forward to talking to you again next week.
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Thank you so much.
Cristina: To accomplish this mission requires both thinking and caring. Follow us to understand how to do your part! Occhio al futuro
On air 23/1/21
Cristina: Our journey to discover Mission 4.7 continues – guaranteeing education on sustainable development and global citizenship for all, by 2030. Professor Sachs, welcome back and thank you very much for being with us. What are the key ingredients of a curriculum that really, fully honors Mission 4.7?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Prosperity, social justice and environmental sustainability are the three pillars of sustainable development. They are, therefor, the pillars of Mission 4.7, we’re aiming to design the kind of future we want, this is the phrase that was used when the Sustainable Development Goals were first adopted: the future we want. So, the curriculum should be empowering, to help young people, to see how we can build a better future, to make our societies more fair, to make our energy systems and industry the way that we treat the rest of nature sustainable, and this involves technical skill, it involves an ethical outlook as well.
Cristina: How can anyone, from teachers to students, members of civil society, governments, participate in this mission?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: I get, everyday, messages from teachers or students. From teachers saying “we’re introducing the SDGs into our local school curriculum, can you help?” and really the answer is yes. Here are some websites to look at, here are some materials, here is a network that you can be part of. Students who are saying “we want to make a youth club” or “our school doesn’t yet teach the sustainable development goals, what can we do?” or “how can I learn?”. SDSN has an SDG Academy of online, free, globally accessible materials in all aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals so that it’s possible to just go online and gain access to really world-class educators and professors and so-forth, who have prepared materials that are freely available. This is an open source, global, interconnected effort. We want all people to be involved, one of the things that we will certainly do is provide a clearing house of information, access and opportunity for networking. For 8 billion people and the still rising global population to be able to manage the needs for healthy diets, safe air, clean environment, cutting pollution, accessing these basic needs for everybody, we’er going to need the new technologies. One key transformations that is vital, in fact, is universal access to digital technologies, so that every person can have access to telemedicine if they need it, to educational materials online, access to government documents, licenses, their rights, their transfers and so forth. I’m very happy to say that Italy has been leading in this effort as well, getting the topics of climate change and environmental sustainability and other aspects of sustainable development into the basic school curriculum. We’re finding that governments al over the world want help on that, want the practicalities of new tools, new curricula, online methods of learning.
Cristina: Thank you. We all have something to learn and to give back to society. Occhio al futuro
On air 6/2/21
Cristina: We presented Mission 4.7 which brings together heads of government, academics, businesses, and civil society, to accelerate education on sustainable development, worldwide. Today, Professor Sachs is with us again to explain how we can reach this ambitious and necessary goal by 2030.
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: We need cooperation at all levels, in communities, within our countries, with our neighboring countries, because neighbors are very important in sharing rivers, in sharing the air, in sharing the fisheries and the coastlines. We need cooperation between regions of the world, between Asia and Europe, Africa, North and South America. All parts of the world need to cooperate. This doesn’t come easily, because there are so many triggers of distrust, even hatred, in our world. There are demagogic politicians who aim to win or keep power or increase their power by professing hate rather than cooperation. But we need cooperation. It is feasible. The beauty of the Sustainable Development Goals is that all 193 governments of the world have agreed to them, same with the Paris Climate Agreement, all 193 UN member states have agreed to them. They are our globally agreed goals. That is a basis in addition to the very reality of them for moving forward in a cooperative way. This is why when governments get together around the world, in periodic meetings about these goals, it’s essential that all come ready to say, here’s how we are cooperating and contributing to what we’ve all agreed to do.
Cristina: How are the efforts being coordinated?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: The Sustainable Development Solutions Network is working together with the rest of the partners, there’s a secretariat which is coordinating with governments and with leading educators around the world to help build a curricula, to help governments and local communities to adopt a curricula and adapt them for local needs, local language, local culture, local priorities in sustainable development. We’re aiming to make a lot of progress in 2021. There are some important global summits that UNESCO will host where governments are to come together to say “this is what we’re going to do”. We’re trying as much as we can to work with governments at the national level, that’s ministers and ministries of education, and with local communities and education experts around the world. And a network of universities of more than 1,000 universities in the SDSN, to bring these ideas to bear as quickly as possible. Time is a real factor here. Mission 4.7 addresses a target that says “by 2030”, that’s just a blink of an eye away. We have to move very, very fast.
Cristina: What is your advice to all Italian stakeholders to make Mission 4.7 a success?
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: In Italy we have tremendous engagement of government, of universities, of civil society and of the business sector. So many businesses are stepping forward and saying “we want to be part of the Sustainable Development Goals, we want Italy to help lead”. Italy is a place where there is nationwide energy and action for sustainable development and this is what I would urge Italians in all sectors of society to build upon.
Cristina: Institution have the obligation, today, to educate citizens of all ages for the disruptive changes ahead. Occhio al futuro
On air 13/2/21