Our Voices

Human Rights in Action: the Sustainable Development Goals

In our December 2023 newsletter, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing a very brief history of its creation. To start off the new year, we’re following up with ways to take action to promote and defend the rights outlined in the UDHR by incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in your school. Read on for more about the 17 SDGs, guiding questions to consider as you incorporate the SDGs into your classroom, and downloadable lesson plans featuring SDG-centered activities and emblematic human rights defenders.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, serve as a vision, a call to action, and a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The goals are calls to action that include specific strategies to improve human rights related to education, health, inequality, economic growth, and the environment. Recognizing the importance of Human Rights in the path to sustainable development, all of the United Nations Member States signed the 2030 Agenda in 2015, agreeing to work in partnership to achieve the SDGs. The Sustainable Development Goals are essentially Human Rights in Action! For example, SDG Goal 1 aims to end poverty in all its forms, which aligns with Article 25 of the UDHR: the right to an adequate standard of living, including access to food, water, clothing, housing, and medical care. In order to achieve SDG goal 1 to end poverty, we have to take action to ensure access to an adequate standard of living for all.

Help us to build the Human Rights Education movement and further the work to accomplish the SDGs in your community. You can start by answering the following questions and assessing what you can do in your community. You can also integrate one or more of the Speak Truth to Power lessons below that are aligned with the SDGs, or download our UDHR or SDG-themed card deck. Additionally, you can go to the United Nations SDG student and educator resource page to learn more about how to teach the SDGs and take action.

  • Can you align a Sustainable Development Goal to an Article of the UDHR?

  • Have you taken action to help meet one of the SDGs?

  • Does your school require community service (engagement) hours to graduate? If so, can you align the service projects with an article of the UDHR and a SDG?

We want to celebrate our collective efforts to reach the SDGs by 2030! Send your pictures, reflections, and stories of actions you are taking in your school or community to promote and defend human rights through the SDGs to Karen Robinson robinson@rfkhumanrights.org.

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms

Recommended Lesson: A Legacy of Combating Urban Poverty

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Goal 3: Health

Recommended Lesson: Healthcare

Goal 4: Education

Recommended Lesson: Speaking Up for the Right to Education

Goal 5: Gender equality and women’s empowerment

Recommended Lesson: Freedom of Expression and Choice

Goal 6: Water and Sanitation

Goal 7: Energy

Goal 8: Economic Growth

Recommended Lesson: Corporate Responsibility

Goal 9: Infrastructure, industrialization

Goal 10: Inequality

Goal 11: Cities

Goal 12: Sustainable consumption and production

Recommended Lesson: Farmworkers and the Struggle for Humane Working Conditions

Goal 13: Climate Action

Goal 14: Oceans

Goal 15: Biodiversity, forests, desertification

Recommended Lesson: Lost There, Felt Here – Protecting the Lungs of Our Planet

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Goal 17: Partnerships

Recommended Action: Submit a video to our annual Speak Truth to Power video contest