LfSS SDG Engagement Workshop

Following on from the Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfSS) AGM back in January, members had asked for opportunities to engage with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  As a result, LfSS organised a workshop on March 26th, which our Programme Coordinator in Scotland, Kate Kirkwood, attended.

Engaging with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – University of Edinburgh, Learning for Sustainability Scotland

LfSS provided us with a great morning session, bringing together members from schools, higher and further education, and beyond.

The morning started with an overview from Chair, Rehema White, of how the Millennium Development Goals influenced and led to the launch of both the SDGs and Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. We also heard more about the SDG Network Scotland and its work on the Voluntary National Review to include a shadow report and ultimately a chapter on Scottish engagement and impact.

The delegates considered discussions as a tool for critically engaging with the SDGs; Rehema reminded us that “by questioning the SDGs, we are creating an active democracy, something which we need at the moment.” It is this critical engagement that is key to working with the goals – by simply asking individuals which goals they are most personally drawn to/ work towards, it is possible to draw out reasoning and questioning about their intent and how they might be achieved.

Another activity invited table groups to draw connections between seemingly quite different goals, e.g. 4. Quality education, 6. Clean water and sanitation and 10. Reduced inequalities. This led to quite an in-depth conversation with a fellow member who reflected that providing clean drinking water has been a great success in many parts of the developing world, therefore allowing more time for children (in particular, girls) to spend in education and commented on the impact this has upon their upward economic mobility. However, access to improved sanitation still requires investment and development.

The morning rounded up with three case studies from different sectors – schools, higher education, and communities – on how they engage with the SDGs.

Scotdec, a Global Learning Centre which has been supporting global citizenship education for nearly thirty years, produces learning resources for schools and educators as well as providing learning and development for professionals. Charlotte Dwyer shared their ‘Explore the Global Goals’ pack with us – a series of activity postcards each focusing on a SDG, with a prompt, discussion and action that pupils can take part in. Excitingly, these packs are available for free download for everyone.

Scott Strachan, University of Strathclyde, shared their #VIP4SDG programme which engages students with “big, bold research projects”. The students have opportunities to work with peers from other year groups and disciplines to address the SDGs through research and outreach work both in Glasgow and further afield, like Ghana and Malawi.

Cait McCullagh is an ethnology PhD student at Heriot Watt University looking at what and how it happens when people consciously connect with their heritage; primarily looking at what is remembered and what is forgotten. Her research focuses on the communities and heritage of Shetland and Orkney, through interviewing local people and is working to create a co-curated virtual heritage museum. It was fascinating to hear about how the SDGs underpin her work and the importance of politics, power and giving voice to people in the making of heritage.

I am always grateful for the opportunities LfSS offers for meeting and sharing the sustainability work of others in Scotland. We are a very diverse, widespread group of professionals all with the shared interest in sustainability and the discussions are always lively, engaging and leave us plenty to think about.

Thank you for hosting another great event!


Written by: Kate Kirkwood, S4TP Programme Coordinator, Scotland

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd