The need has never been greater for individuals who can address increasingly complex environmental issues with interdisciplinary analysis and problem-solving skills. Human activity is dramatically impacting the natural environment, and it is time for fundamental changes for a more sustainable future. In celebration of Earth Day 2023, the SDG Academy shares 7 Take-Action ideas you can apply to your own lives and communities to accompany you in your path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each idea is suggested with one of the Academy’s free courses that you can take online, anywhere.
1.Invest in Sustainable Food (SDG 2)
In the coming years, demand for food will put pressure on agricultural, aquaculture, and fishing resources that are already strained. Through improvements to food efficiency and productivity, while shifting behavioral consumption patterns, we can produce enough food to nourish the world’s growing population while reducing the environmental footprint of food systems. How do we produce more and better food while simultaneously achieving social and environmental goals? The smallest things we do can have long-lasting rippling effects. Invest in the future and your health by buying local, sustainable foods. Shop at farmers’ markets where you can support the economics of local businesses while getting the freshest food of the season. Start a garden and make your own organic soil through composting from food waste.
Take Action with Sustainable Food Systems: A Mediterranean Perspective.
The Mediterranean region is one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, home to a complex and intricate patchwork of cultures, climates, and cuisines. The ability of Mediterranean agriculture to sustain its people can provide insight into the political, social, cultural, economic, and nutritional factors of food systems. In this course, learn about agricultural diversification, food sovereignty, and emerging innovation and sustainability opportunities in the sector.
2. Conserve and Protect Water Resources (SDG 6)
We live in a water-stress world; it is essential to develop conservation strategies that sustainably manage all bodies of water. Without proper governance and collaboration across global partners, society is posed to see an escalation of crises and emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors. Your actions can make a difference that helps the environment and lowers water usage. Set up rainwater systems to catch and reuse water for plants and invest in energy-efficient, water-saving devices for your house.
Take Action with Water: Addressing the Global Crisis.
Lack of access to water is a rapidly growing problem and one of the world’s gravest risks. The course explores the linkages between water, environment, and societal development, focusing on how to tackle issues such as growing water uncertainty and deteriorating water quality. Learn about the key role water plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 6’s call to ensure sustainable water and sanitation for all.
3. Reduce Inequalities, Uplift Equality (SDG 5 and SDG 10)
There have been significant strides toward reducing inequalities and uplifting communities out of poverty, yet significant disparities still remain in healthcare, education, and more. It is time for stakeholders at all levels to work towards providing equal pathways of opportunities through policy and social inclusion approaches. You, too, can make a difference; use your voice to combat discrimination and organize community discussions around actions for human rights. Run a voting registration education campaign for marginalized social groups to raise their engagement and representation in institutions of power.
Take Action with Understanding Poverty and Inequality.
In this course, developed in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Development at the Brookings Institution, you will learn about the multidimensional facets of poverty and inequality across the world. Explore opportunities for socioeconomic mobility, particular challenges facing women, minorities, and how poverty and inequality link to climate change.
4. Advocate for Climate Action for Ecosystem Conservation (SDG 13)
The planet is in a state of climate emergency; we need immediate climate solutions to preserve our environment for future generations. To achieve this, strong communication and collaboration skills are essential for prioritizing public needs, developing tools for participatory learning, and emphasizing dynamic forms of engagement. By ensuring equal and full participation from underrepresented groups, we can drive Ecosystem-based Adaptation solutions that utilize biodiversity and ecosystem services to build resilience to climate change.
Take Action with Ecosystem-based Adaptation: Working with nature to adapt to a changing climate.
Are you interested in learning more about Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) initiatives? This EbA course is designed to equip learners with transferable and replicable skills in designing and implementing EbA initiatives through targeted training on essential principles, risk monitoring, and governance. Learn how you can integrate EbA solutions into the environmental community and other sectors—including infrastructure, water, and social development.
5. Build Sustainable Communities (SDG 11)
With half of the worldwide population living in cities, we must ensure these are built to boost shared prosperity while promoting resilience to tackle the biggest challenges ahead, such as climate change, social exclusion, and disaster risks. While the urban population keeps growing, achieving this goal and building social, economic, and environmentally favorable cities by involving stakeholders from all levels and implementing both top-down and bottom-up approaches. As citizens, we have the responsibility to step in, and we can do so by prioritizing public transportation, joining community associations or volunteering with local organizations that safeguard the cultural and natural heritage of our communities, and holding accountable our representatives to make sure they invest in policies for resource efficiency and disaster risk reduction.
Take Action with Shaping Urban Futures.
This course by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), drawing on rich research experiences of over 100 researchers working on urban questions in more than 8 cities in 5 countries from across the world, will enable learners to imagine how they can make a difference to the future cities that will shape tomorrow’s planet.
6. Prioritize Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)
The last years have highlighted the necessity to understand the value of health not just as a benefit or right of individuals, but as a global public need. At the center of our actions, we must put strengthening health systems and establishing ambitious proposals to ignite a renaissance in multilateralism, integrating the global response to the risk of future pandemics with actions to address the climate crisis and reversals in sustainable development. Individual steps can involve attending and encouraging other members to do a mental or physical health check-up, getting informed and educated by reliable sources about health matters, and keeping a healthy lifestyle by adopting adequate diets and activities.
Take Action with Global Public Health.
What are the effects of a healthy individual on the world around them? Beyond the hereditary connections between parents and children or the implications of communicable diseases, public health has intrinsic value as a basic human right and in the context of social, economic, and environmental factors.
7. Facilitate Partnerships for SDGs (SDG 17)
Behavior change on a global scale is at the heart of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. These goals provide a guide for promoting practices and policies that will ensure everyone can enjoy peace and prosperity. Society is generally optimistic about having conversations about climate change, but they can involve abstract concepts that seem distanced from daily lives. Behavior change is critical to supporting a better understanding of the planet’s environmental challenges and immediate changes needed for a sustainable future. As global citizens, we must ensure all our encapsulate sustainable-positive actions in our day-to-day lives.
Take Action with Changing Behaviour for Sustainable Development.
To achieve the sustainable development changes we wish for locally and globally scale, we need to understand behavioral science and its drivers. Through this course, learners will gain a deep understanding of a variety of topics, from systems thinking to intervention design and evaluation.