1 Department of Economic & Social Affairs DESA Working Paper No. 146 ST/ESA/2015/DWP/146 October 2015 How well are the links between education and other sustainable development goals covered in UN flagship reports? A contribution to the study of the science-policy interface on education in the UN system a b , David Le Blanc Katia Vladimirova ABSTRACT In 2015, a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will succeed the Millennium Develop - - ment Goals as reference goals for international development for the period 2015-2030. Educa tion was identified as a standalone goal (SDG4). Epistemic communities have documented a - number of links between education and other SDG areas, and policy makers have long recog nized many of them. Based on an exhaustive content analysis of 40 global reports, this paper examines how well such links are represented in flagship publications of the United Nations system. Taken together, the reports identify links between education and all the SDGs, with the notable exception of SDG 14 on oceans. For most of the SDGs, causal links are identified in both directions, from education to other goal areas and vice-versa. The most emphasized - connections are those between education and growth (SDG8) and gender (SDG5). By con trast, links with energy (SDG7), water (SDG 6), cities (SDG 11), sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate change (SDG 13) receive much less attention in the sum of UN flagship publications. While some causal links are identified and highlighted as important, relevant constraints are sometimes not extensively discussed, and few concrete policy options to act on those links are provided. Going forward, it would be important to assess whether the messages contained in UN flagship reports adequately reflect the state of scientific knowledge and the lessons learnt from development programs that focus on education in relation to specific SDGs. The systematic analysis provided here can offer a basis for an integrated analysis of policy priorities for education as a whole. I31, I38, and Z13 JEL Classification: Keywords: Education, Sustainable Development Goals, science-policy interface, scientific assessments, policy integration, sustainable development. Corresponding author. New York University, visiting scholar. [email protected] a United Nations, Division for Sustainable Development, 405 E. 42nd Street, New York 10017 NY, USA. [email protected] b un.org.
2 CONTENTS 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Introduc tion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Methodology 2 3. Links between education and SDGs put forward by UN flagship reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 5. Conclusion References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 : The authors would like to thank Ana Persic for useful guidance and comments during Acknowledgements the initial phase of the research done for this paper. We thank Michael Dayan for his help in visualizing the data, Diana Alarcon and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. Remaining errors are ours. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. UN/DESA Working Papers are preliminary documents circulated in a limited number of copies and posted on the DESA website at http://www.un.org/en/development/ desa/papers/ to stimulate discussion and critical comment. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United UNITED NATIONS Nations Secretariat. The designations and terminology Department of Economic and Social Affairs employed may not conform to United Nations practice nd Street UN Secretariat, 405 East 42 and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever .Y . 10017, USA New York, N on the part of the Organization. .org e-mail: [email protected] Nancy Settecasi Typesetter: .org/en/development/desa/papers/ .un http://www
3 How well are the links between education and other sustainable development goals covered in UN flagship reports? A contribution to the study of the science-policy interface on education in the UN system level. Through their activities, specialized UN agen - 1 Introduction cies, as well as UNDP and the World Bank provide - UN Member States are soon to adopt a set of Sus a conduit for conveying evidence from science to tainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2014). decision-makers. The SDGs will succeed the Millennium Develop - The question we investigate here is: How well does ment Goals (MDGs) as reference goals for the in - the UN system as a whole cover (or recognize) the ternational community for the period of 2015-2030. links between education and other SDGs? In order The seventeen goals cover a much broader range of to do this, we extract messages on education in the issues than their predecessors. They aim to be uni - content of a large sample of flagship reports produced versal – that is, applicable to all countries and not by UN organizations, including the World Bank. only developing countries, and to serve as guideposts We analyze the way in which these publications for a global transition to sustainable development. identify specific causal links among education and Education was identified as a standalone goal (SDG other SDG areas; constraints and challenges that 4). This reflects a continuing high priority given to they emphasize in relation to these links; and policy education in the development agenda, as education recommendations that they put forward. For our was already prominent in the MDGs. purposes, flagship reports are a good approximation The recognition of interdependencies, trade-offs and of the “downstream” part of the science-policy inter - synergies among the various goals, and their inte - face in the UN system, i.e. the one connecting UN gration into policy design, is recognized as critical organizations to international policy-making. Argu - for going forward towards sustainable development. ably, most of the policy messages conveyed by these Education is relevant to the work of many UN organ - organizations to the policy world are based on their izations, even though they address it from different flagship reports, to which they tend to devote large perspectives. Education has a well-recognized role of resources and usually publicize comprehensively. enabler for many areas under the SDGs, e.g. growth, We show that taken together, UN flagship reports gender equality, and many others. Conversely, progress identify links between education and all the other in other areas may affect education in many ways. SDGs, with the notable exception of SDG14 on Some of these links have been studied intensively, oceans. However, the emphasis on different links especially since the adoption of MDGs in 2000. differs markedly. Our analysis also highlights appar - However, given the extended scope of the SDGs, it ent gaps. At the outset, let us clarify that this paper - is important for policy to reflect links between edu does not attempt a detailed analysis of the policy cation and other goals. The science-policy interface content of the reports in our sample. Rather, we has a crucial role to play in this regard. One of the provide an overview of the landscape of education in the context of the SDGs as reflected by UN sys - - critical roles of the UN system is to provide a plat tem publications. We suggest that a more detailed form for science-policy interface at the international
4 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 2 examination of policies for education in the SDG in the form of a specialized UN organization. For - context would be a logical step to follow on this ini energy, we selected the Global Energy Assessment, tial, scene-setting work. produced by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, 2014) arguably the most The remainder of this paper is built as follows. comprehensive assessment effort in the energy area, Section 2 describes the methodology used for our as well as the World Energy Outlook 2014 produced analysis. In section 3, we document the coverage of by the International Energy Agency. For climate links between education and other SDG areas in our change, we looked at the fifth assessment report - sample of reports. Section 4 contains the main dis of the intergovernmental panel on climate change cussion of our findings. Section 5 concludes. (IPCC), specifically at the technical summary of the working group II on adaptation and vulnerability Methodology 2 (IPCC, 2014). In order to cover as much ground as possible, we First, through primary content analysis, we identified selected 37 flagship reports from the UN system all the ideas in the reports that referred to education. (including the World Bank) covering a wide range We complemented basic automated keyword search - of primary topics (see Box 1). We look only at glob procedure with manual individual analysis of each al reports; region-specific reports are not included. occurrence to ensure relevance of messages and in- Reports by non-UN organizations (e.g. OECD) are depth coverage. We then extracted the messages that not covered either. Our sample offers a relatively bal - contained analytical statements and conclusions, in anced mix of perspectives, with some reports written verbatim form. We did not include region-specific by UN organizations that tend to examine issues examples and opinion quotes. starting from a strong social tradition (UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, FAO, ILO, UNFPA, Second, once the list of all the messages was com - UN-Women, UN-Habitat); others written by organ - piled, each of them was connected to one or several - izations whose perspectives tend to be more econom of the seventeen thematic areas of the SDGs. For the ic in nature (World Bank, UNIDO, WTO, UNC - purpose of this paper, which focuses on links between TAD), and yet others coming from organizations education and other SDGs, statements referring only that emphasize environmental elements (UNEP, to education were not considered further. Thus, only CBD). Our sample contains several reports from messages linking education to the sixteen other goal UNESCO, the UN organization with the clearest areas are part of the list. Some messages fit into one mandate on education, as well as several issues of - thematic area (e.g. “education helps eradicate pover both the Human Development Report from UNDP ty” would be placed under SDG 1 on poverty erad - and the World Development Report from the World ication). Other messages fit into several areas (e.g. - Bank. These two flagship reports are known to sys “access to clean water and electricity is especially tematically consider education as part of their basic important for girls’ education” would be reflected in - framework. These reports offer an additional advan SDG 5 on gender equality and in both SDG 6 on tage of covering different topics each year, which water and SDG 7 on energy). Some messages relate ensures that links between education and a number to crosscutting subjects that do not have their own of SDGs are covered more thoroughly. SDGs, such as youth or disaster risk reduction. In - the case of disaster risk reduction, messages were al - In addition to our sample, we also analyzed three re located to two of the goal areas that contain targets ports that are globally known references for the areas related to it, SDG 1 (poverty) and SDG 11 (cities). of energy and climate change, but are not produced The context for each specific message determined its - by the UN system. This exercise provided a bench mark for two SDG areas that do not have a “home” allocation.
5 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 3 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... BOX 1 - : Education for Sustainable Develop UNESCO Reports included in the analysis ment Report 2014 : Education for All GMR: Teaching UNESCO UN organizations: and learning: Achieving quality for all 2015 CBD : Global Biodiversity Outlook No. 2, 2006 UNESCO : World Water Development Report : Global Biodiversity Outlook No. 3, 2010 CBD 2 015 : Global Biodiversity Outlook No. 4, 2014 CBD : Fixing the Broken UNESCO-UNICEF Promise of Education for All 2015 FAO : The State of Food and Agriculture 2014 U NFPA - : State of World Population: Adoles : The State of Food Insecurity in the FAO cents, Youth and the Transformation of the World 2014 Future 2014 ILO : World of Work Report 2014 UN-Habitat : Global Report on Human : Global Employment Trends 2014 ILO Settlements 2013 : World Social Protection Report: Building ILO : The State of the World’s Children UNICEF a Economic Recovery, Inclusive development and 2 015 Social Justice 2014/15 UNIDO : Industrial Development Report: : Trade and Investment Report: UNCTAD Sustaining Employment Growth: The Role of Investing in SDGs 2014 Manufacturing and Structural Change 2013 UNDP - : Human Development Report: Sustain : Global Assessment Report 2015 UNISDR ing Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities U N Women : Progress of the World’s Women and Building Resilience 2014 2 011/12 UNDP : Human Development Report: The WHO : World Health Report: Research for Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse Universal Health Coverage 2013 World 2013 : World Trade Report 2014 WTO - UNDP : Human Development Report: Sustain ability and Equity: A Better Future for All 2011 World Bank: UNDP : Human Development Report: The : Development and World Development Report real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human the Next Generation 2007 Development 2010 : Development and World Development Report UNEP : GEO5: Environment for the Future Climate Change 2010 We Want 2012 World Development Report : Jobs 2013 - UNEP : Global Outlook on Sustainable Con sumption and Production Practices 2014 : Ending Poverty Global Monitoring Report and Sharing Prosperity 2014/15 : Education for Sustainable Develop UNESCO - ment Report 2009 World Development Report: Mind Society and Behavior 2015 : Science Report 2010 UNESCO UNESCO - : Education for Sustainable Develop The State of the World’s Children report by UNICEF a ment Report 2012 - (2015) contains a few general statement related to ed ucation. However, the bulk of references to education UNESCO : World Social Sciences Report: - is in the form of opinion quotes of specific experts. Be Changing Global Environments 2013 cause opinion quotes do not represent the view of the : Education for All GMR: Teaching UNESCO agency that publishes the report, they are excluded from and learning: Achieving quality for all 2013/14 our selection.
6 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 4 - the comprehensiveness of broad policy axes consid Third, messages grouped under each goal were bro - ered in relation to the link (sixth column). ken down into four analytical categories: general statements; links; constraints and challenges; and From table 1, a few stylized facts emerge. First, the policy messages, and further separated according - coverage of links varies significantly across the seven - to the causal direction of the link. By “causal direc teen SDGs. Second, for some SDGs, no links to edu - tion”, we mean a logical connection captured in the cation are put forward by the reports in our sample. message, which indicates whether education affects Third, the emphasis on constraints and challenges certain SDG area, or vice versa. For example, mes - tends to be very limited or non-existent for many of sages under SDG 6 indicate links from education to the links. Fourth, the depth of treatment of policy water (e.g. “higher education positively influences issues in relation to the different links varies greatly. water management”), as well as links in the other di - We come back to these features below in more detail. rection (e.g. “access to sanitation improves education outcomes”). Messages that describe trends or focus SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms purely on numbers (without an analytical compo - everywhere nent) were discarded at this stage. Lastly, whenever The reports identify a number of connections be - possible, we tried to allocate messages to one SDG tween education and poverty, in both directions. area only, in order to avoid lengthy repetitions in Education reduces poverty by increasing people’s section 3. It is not always obvious to do so, as many income (World Bank, 2014/15, UNESCO, 2015). - statements in the reports tend to mention several sec Expanded access to education has typically bene - tors in tandem, for example, health and education or fited worse off groups (UNDP, 2010). People are a energy and water. vulnerable to poverty if they are below or at risk of falling below a certain minimally acceptable thresh - Given our selection of reports and messages, it is old of critical choices across several dimensions, such important to keep in mind that graphs and tables as education (UNDP, 2014). Education increases presented in this article are, to use a mathematical resilience to adverse shocks (UNDP, 2010, 2014; - analogy, conditional on education. We do not ex - UNISDR, 2015). Girls’ education prevents an inter plore links between all the SDGs, only those which generational transmission of poverty by breaking the involve education. cycle of early marriage and childbearing and health and other risks associated with these events (UN Links between education and 3 Women, 2011/12; UNDP, 2014; World Bank, 2007, SDGs put forward by UN 2 014 /15). flagship reports Constraints and challenges include raising educa - This section concerns the content of reports analyzed tional requirements to access the labor market in low- and middle-income countries (World Bank, and focuses on the links between education and other - 2014/15), and limited access to education for disa SDGs. Table 1 provides an overview of the findings. bled people (World Bank, 2007; UNISRD, 2015). It shows the number of reports in our sample that cover each link (third column); the number of dif - Policy recommendations center on the need to ferent causal links emphasized by the reports (fourth build expanded educational opportunities as part column); the coverage of challenges and constraints of multi-dimensional approaches that combine relative to the link in question (fifth column); and income support and job creation with expanded - health care, education and social protection, ener - a As pointed out by a referee, it is not always obvious to sep gy access and other interventions for community arate statements referring to links from those referring to development (UNDP, 2014, ILO, 2014a; ILO, constraints and challenges. While we agree, we think this does not impact our conclusions. 2014/15, World Bank, 2007). Also emphasized are:
7 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 5 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... Ta ble 1 Coverage of links between education and other SDGs in the sample of reports (n=37) Number of reports Number of Coverage of Comprehensiveness of covering causal links put SDG constraints and challenges*** area policy discussion**** Direction* this area** forward SDG 1 → 4 Limited Limited SDG 4 1 13 SDG 4 2 Limited Comprehensive SDG 1 → → 2 8 3 Limited Limited SDG 4 SDG 2 SDG 4 Very limited Very limited → 1 SDG 2 → SDG 3 18 4 3 Comprehensive SDG 4 Limited → SDG 4 None None None SDG 3 SDG 4 5 SDG 5 19 7 Comprehensive Very limited → SDG 5 SDG 4 3 Comprehensive Limited → SDG 4 → 8 1 None Very limited 6 SDG 6 SDG 4 None Limited → SDG 6 4 → SDG 4 6 5 Limited Limited 7 SDG 7 → SDG 4 7 SDG 7 Very limited Very limited 8 → SDG 8 21 >10 Comprehensive Comprehensive SDG 4 → 4 SDG 8 Comprehensive Limited SDG 4 SDG 4 9 SDG 9 10 3 None Limited → SDG 9 → SDG 4 2 None Very limited 10 SDG 4 SDG 10 11 7 Limited Limited → → SDG 4 Comprehensive Limited SDG 10 4 → Very limited 6 1 SDG 4 Very limited 11 S D G 11 SDG 4 2 Limited Very limited S D G 11 → SDG 4 → SDG 12 9 5 Very limited Comprehensive 12 SDG 12 → 2 Very limited Very limited SDG 4 SDG 4 SDG 13 9 6 Very limited Limited 13 → → SDG 4 1 SDG 13 None None 14 SDG 4 → SDG 14 0 None None None SDG 14 → SDG 4 None None None 15 SDG 4 SDG 15 10 3 Limited Comprehensive → → 3 Very limited None SDG 15 SDG 4 SDG 4 → SDG 16 19 16 Limited Limited 6 SDG 16 → SDG 4 4 Very limited Very limited 17 SDG 4 → SDG 17 19 None None None SDG 17 SDG 4 4 Comprehensive Limited → Source: Authors’ elaboration. Note: *: The arrow indicates causal links from a goal area to another. For example, “SDG 4 → SDG 1”refers to links from SDG 4 (education) to SDG 1 (poverty). ** Based on the full content of reports, before selection and groupings of similar ideas. *** The coverage of constraints and challenges is assessed based on comprehensiveness and depth of treatment in the whole set of reports. None: no significant elaboration on constraints and challenges in relation to a specific link was found in the entire set of reports. Very limited: presence of few ideas, with no elaborate treatment. Limited: the messages included in the reports provide a general idea of constraints and challenges, but depth of treatment is limited. Comprehensive: messages included in the set of reports build up to a comprehensive treatment of constraints and challenges. **** The coverage of policy options is based on comprehensiveness and depth of treatment in the whole set of reports. None: no policy statements in relation to a specific link were found in the entire set of reports. Very limited: presence of few distinct policy areas. Limited: messages included in the report cover various policy axes in relation to this link, but depth of treatment is limited. Comprehensive: ideas included in the set of reports builds up to a comprehensive, in-depth treatment of policy in this area.
8 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 6 the need to establish a minimum universal level of SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and basic education and social security to ensure that all promote sustainable agriculture citizens have secure access to the basic requirements of human development (UNDP, 2013); the need to Links between SDG 2 and education are covered present investments in education, and particularly by few reports in our sample. Most of the references in female education, as a core strategic investment to detailed links from education to agriculture and in disaster risk reduction (UNISDR, 2015); and the food systems come from a report of FAO. In general, need to promote the engagement of the media in education is an essential element of efforts to reduce order to stimulate a culture of disaster resilience and malnutrition and hunger. (UNESCO, 2013/14; strong community involvement in sustained public FAO 2014a). The FAO report stresses the impor - education campaigns and public consultations at all tance of basic education for improving agricultural levels of society (UNISDR, 2015). productivity and farm incomes and highlights that agricultural education and training raises agricul - Looking at links from poverty to education, the - tural productivity by developing producers’ capaci reports mention that the quality of services that ties, fostering the development of people’s skills and poor people can afford or are publicly provided is competencies for innovation, and generating human worse than that available for people who are bet - capital for research and advisory services. It also ter off (UNDP, 2010). They also point to the fact mentions that farmers need to attain more advanced that millions of women face ‘time poverty’ due to levels of education to make use of new ICT-based multiple work burden (in particular, the time spent information sources and technical advice and to - collecting water and fuel). This curtails their oppor - respond to new market opportunities and environ tunities for education and paid employment (UN mental change (FAO, 2014). The World Bank points Women, 2011/12). Challenges mentioned include out that as education levels for rural youth improve the fact that children of the worse-off groups are still they can enter a broader range of nonagricultural more likely to have less education and less access to occupations (World Bank, 2007). basic services (UNDP, 2010). Indigenous peoples The FAO reports summarizes the major challenges tend to have poor educational attainment, unequal - in agricultural education and training facing devel opportunities and unequal access to land and other oping countries as: inadequate institutional capacity; productive assets (UNDP, 2010, 2014). Regarding relatively low levels of public and private support policy recommendations, strengthening income se - to agricultural education; and limited resources curity, in the form of cash transfers among others, and experience to cope with new areas of training is mentioned as a key element of policies that aim - in agriculture: environment and natural resourc to reduce and prevent child poverty, at breaking es management, biotechnology, farming systems the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and management and agribusiness (FAO, 2014). Many at facilitating children’s access to nutrition, care, training courses for advisory service practitioners - education and health care (ILO, 2014). In this con are too general, theoretical and supply-driven, and text, cash transfers for children and families, both the quality of trainers and training delivery is often conditional and non-conditional, have contributed poor. Training courses also tend to be treated as sin - to significant increases in children’s enrolment and gle events, with inadequate follow-up (FAO, 2014). attendance at school in different parts of the world, Barriers to getting agricultural education are more less child labour, and improvements in education acute for women than for men (UNFPA, 2014). outcomes (ILO, 2014/15). Lastly, a report holds that investment in disaster risk reduction could make the Policy recommendations put forward include the crucial difference in improving education outcomes need to upgrade skills and capacities of individuals (UNISDR, 2015). involved in all aspects of agricultural innovation
9 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 7 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... - result in better health outcomes for them and for their system – farmers, extension service providers, re searchers, etc. through education and training at all children and accelerates their countries’ transition to levels, which requires sustained political support for - stable population growth (World Bank, 2007; UNE investments in agricultural education and training to SCO, 2013/14, UNDP, 2011, 2013; UNFPA, 2014). develop a network of core institutions (FAO, 2014). More educated youth are more willing to control Groups in need of special focus include farmers’ and family size and invest in the health and well-being of local community groups, women and girls, and the their offspring. The impacts are particularly strong youth (FAO, 2014). The FAO report also addresses for women. (World Bank, 2007). Education is con - issues relating to the content of education and exten - sidered a way to protect young people from engaging sion and the need to refocus it to cover new technical in risky behaviors (World Bank, 2007). areas such as farm management, agribusiness devel - Among the challenges identified, evidence of the opment, value addition and marketing (FAO, 2014). efficacy of school-based health education programs Lastly, a report mentions that in order to achieve - is mixed, with variations in effectiveness depend - target 7 of the UN Convention on Biological Di ing partly on the outcome evaluated (World Bank versity, which concerns sustainable management of 2007). Access to quality comprehensive sexuality areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry, it education remains elusive for most adolescents. is necessary to support customary sustainable use, Although many countries have a comprehensive for example through education (CBD, 2014). sexuality education policy and programs, most do - Links from SDG 2 to education are much less em not implement it widely or in a way that adheres to - phasized in our sample. A report mentions the det international standards (UNFPA 2014). Experience rimental impacts of undernutrition on educational with health education, particularly in the context of outcomes (UNDP, 2014). New populations entering HIV prevention, shows changing knowledge alone the school system are more likely to come from may not change behavior (World Bank, 2007). - marginalized groups and be affected by malnutri The following policy recommendations emerge from tion and poverty (UNESCO, 2015). An ILO report the reports. Education programs should provide concludes that social protection programs including students with the values and skills that not only cash transfers, the supply of free tuition and materi - translate into success in the labor market but also als, and school feeding programs have been shown to enable them to live healthier and more fulfilling lives lead to higher school enrolment rates, fewer school (World Bank, 2014/15). Schools can be major centers dropouts and less child labour (ILO, 2014/15). - for the provision of basic health care as well as sourc es of medical information and education (World SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and Bank, 2010). School-based reproductive health promote well-being for all at all ages education programs can be effective in increasing Many reports emphasized that education affects knowledge and the adoption of safe sexual behavior health and well-being, reflecting a shared under - (World Bank, 2007). A central element of health standing that education is a powerful lever for im - promotion is providing health education to change proving people’s health. Educated people are better youth behavior and encourage adoption of healthy informed about diseases, take preventative meas - behaviors (World Bank, 2007). One report mentions ures, recognize signs of illness early and tend to use that research confirms significant positive effects of health care services more often (UNESCO, 2013/14; aid targeted to health and education (UNDP, 2010). - WHO, 2013, UNFPA, 2014). Basic education sup By contrast, the reverse causal links (how health af - ports universal health coverage by enabling healthy fects education) were not addressed in depth by any lifestyle choices and informing health-care decisions (WHO, 2013). Better education for women tends to of the selected reports, including reports by WHO.
10 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 8 well as being a route to decent work (UN Women, A significant number of messages in the reports, in addition to pointing to causal links between educa - 2011/12). Higher educational attainment expands tion and health, also tend to link both of them to a women’s freedoms by strengthening their capacity - third issue (e.g. “long-term unemployment is a seri to question, reflect and act on their condition and ous threat to health (physical and mental) and to the by increasing their access to information (UNDP, quality of life (including children’s education)”). This 2010; UN Women, 2011/12). Evidence suggests that reflects that health and education are often treated as rights-based and gender-sensitive comprehensive sex - b closely connected development challenges. uality education programs can lead to greater gender equality (UNFPA, 2014). Education enhances girls’ SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and social status, increases their bargaining power within empower all women and girls marriage (UNFPA, 2014). Investments in education can help accelerate demographic transition (UNES - Many reports cover links between gender and edu - CO, 2013/14; UNDP, 2010, 2011, 2013; UNFPA, cation, in both directions. Indeed, SDG 5 is, after 2014; World Bank, 2007). Gender-based patterns of SDG 8, the area that received the most attention in - vulnerability are shaped by the value of and entitle the sum of the analyzed reports. ment to assets, access to financial services, education Reports put forward several links describing how level, social networks, and participation in local education affects gender equality and women em - organizations (World Bank, 2010). Countries that powerment. Education expands opportunities for focused on female education suffered far fewer losses girls and young women and raises their aspirations from extreme weather events than less progressive for work outside the home (UNFPA, 2014; World countries with equivalent income and weather con - Bank, 2007). As women acquire more education, ditions (UNDP, 2011). - they increasingly move out of traditional house hold or agricultural production activities and enter The following challenges are identified. Social and wage work (World Bank, 2007). Policies to ensure cultural norms in many countries exclude some that women and girls can access services including groups from education, primarily girls and young health and education have contributed to significant women, although ethnicity, caste, and disability are - advances in women’s standard of living (UN Wom also dimensions of exclusion (World Bank, 2007, en, 2011/12). Greater educational attainment shapes 2013). Gender norms and discrimination leave attitudes of both girls and boys to gender equality, more girls out of school than boys—particularly the - with greater education leading to more positive at poorest girls in rural areas and the child labour that titudes towards gender equality among both males undermines learning and often leads to drop-out and females (UNFPA, 2014; UNESCO, 2013/14). (UNESCO-UNICEF, 2015). While enrolment is Education can empower women to overcome dis - rising, many girls will not complete their primary crimination and claim their rights and overcome education. In almost every region, young women barriers that prevent them from getting a fair share are significantly more likely to be ‘education poor’ of the fruits of overall progress (UNESCO 2013/14; (to have four years or less of primary education) - UNFPA, 2014; UNDP, 2010). In particular, sec than young men (UN Women, 2011/12). Overall ondary education is critical for women to be able to secondary school attendance rates are very low in claim rights and participate in decision-making, as many countries, with significant levels of inequality between urban rich and rural poor girls (UN Wom - - It is not the purpose of the paper to assess whether the ten b en, 2011/12). Barriers to getting agricultural educa - dency to bunch health and education in policy messages tion are more acute for women than for men, with is grounded in evidence. However, given how frequently fewer women-graduates of agricultural programmes this is done in our sample of reports, this would merit an analysis on its own. (FAO, 2014). Technical and vocational training for
11 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 9 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... sustainable development lacks gender perspective access to education than men (FAO, 2014). Women are often discriminated against in health, education (UNESCO, 2014). and the labour market, including discrimination in - Beyond a general call for countries to adopt ambi national political participation (UNDP, 2010, 2013, tious policies that expand women’s education and 2014). Girls often leave school unprepared for work, have crosscutting benefits for human development or cannot translate educational accomplishments (UNDP, 2013), reports in our sample contain few into remunerative jobs (UNFPA, 2014). Education, concrete policy recommendations. One of them experience, or sector of work do not fully explain the emphasizes the role of affirmative action to increase fact that women continue to earn less than men – school attendance by girls (UNFPA, 2014; FAO, but social norms and institutions could be a reason 2014). Another suggests that recruitment of female (World Bank, 2007, 2013). Today one in three girls teachers at all levels of education, textbook and in developing countries is married before the age curriculum reform, and training in gender-sensitive of 18, threatening her health, education and future teaching are critical to improving gender equality in prospects (UNFPA, 2014). In addition, young wom - schools (UNESCO, 2015). The same report affirms en and girls may experience harmful practices that that the realization of gender equality in education lead to blocked access to sexual and reproductive requires moving beyond counting the numbers of health information and education (UNFPA, 2014). boys and girls in school to exploring the quality of Policy recommendations in the sample of reports girls’ and boys’ experiences in the classroom and touched on several areas. First, to achieve universal school community, their achievements in education primary education, greater attention should be paid - institutions and their aspirations for the future (UN to excluded children (especially poor girls from ru - E S C O, 2 015). ral areas) who have been left behind (UN Women, Three links reflecting how gender equality and em - 2011/12). Second, targeted voucher programs have powerment of women impact education were put - traditionally been used to make education more eq forward. First, women are often “time poor” and uitable by targeting underserved groups like women, this impairs their access to education (UN Wom - youth and low-income students (UNFPA, 2014; en, 2011/12). Second, early marriage curtails girls’ UNIDO, 2013). Third, cleaner energy options, opportunities for education (UN Women, 2011/12). especially in rural areas, can free up time for girls Increasing women’s ability to plan their births is also to study and improve their academic performance associated with substantial improvements in their (UNEP, 2014). Fourth, ensuring young women’s children’s education and socio-economic success access to voluntary family planning has the greatest and eventual wages (UNFPA, 2014). Children are impact on educational attainment and lifetime earn - - affected if their mothers are poor or have low lev ings (UNFPA, 2014). els of education (UNDP, 2014). Third, an increase in the share of household income contributed by SDG 6: Ensure availability and women often results in improvements in children’s sustainable management of water educational attainment. Women tend to allocate and sanitation for all their incomes more to food and education than men Connections between SDG6 and education were (World Bank, 2013, 2014/2015; UNIDO, 2013). not primary focus area of any of the selected reports. A number of challenges were identified. Data show Only one report (UNEP, 2012) emphasized ways that poor girls from rural areas and from ethnic mi - - in which education affects availability and sustain nority or indigenous groups often have the lowest able management of water and sanitation. Thus, education and literacy levels (UN Women, 2011/12). education and information programs are viewed Almost universally, women have more restricted as enabling conditions to promote integrated water
12 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 10 resource management. Among water users, there is - Looking at the links from education to energy re ports agree that changing behaviors and lifestyles to need for a cultural change through education and achieve low-carbon societies will take a concerted economic incentives. (UNEP, 2012). Constraints educational effort (including technical training) over and obstacles relevant to this link were not empha - many years (World Bank, 2010; IIASA, 2014). The sized in detail. Possible policy levers to improve ac - Global Energy Assessment sees education as part of cess to safe drinking water and reduce water stress a package in order to achieve this effort, along with include investing in education to raise awareness of feedback, information, and advice (IIASA, 2014). the need to save water and the link between unsafe It emphasizes the importance of targeting youth to drinking water and disease (UNEP, 2012). provide the knowledge and skills about energy use - Regarding the reverse impact that water and sani that will allow them to make informed choices as tation have on education, improvements in global energy users (IIASA, 2014). It also takes stock of the importance of education and training in programs water and energy infrastructure can directly affect focused on clean energy provision in developing - the education opportunities of the poorest (UNES countries. The report notes limitations of current CO, 2015). The time people spend carrying water or education systems and curricula with respect to both fuels has an opportunity cost and could otherwise the inclusion of energy in environmental programs be spent on more economically productive or social - around the world, and the lack of flexibility showed ly beneficial activities such as pursuit of education by standard discipline-based educational and train - (UNESCO, 2015). Many children go to school in ing programs (IIASA, 2014). Among other things, conditions that are not conducive to learning – lack - - the report emphasizes the important role that uni ing potable water, handwashing facilities and safe, - versities could play to support managing and sus clean toilets (UNESCO, 2015). Access to clean wa - taining energy transitions (IIASA, 2014). The World ter and improved sanitation is also especially impor - Bank notes that many energy-efficiency measures tant for girls’ education; it influences their education are financially viable for investors but are not fully decisions and generates health gains, time savings realized, and that realizing these low-cost savings and privacy (UNDP, 2011; UNESCO, 2015). It was requires consumer education (World Bank, 2010). noted that school water and sanitation provision in In the other direction, access to energy services can many developing countries has improved over the improve the quality and availability of educational past decade, but progress has been slow (UNESCO, services and increase the likelihood that children 2015). No specific policy recommendation was put - will attend and complete school (IIASA, 2014; UN forward in relation to this link. ESCO, 2015). In particular, electrification is vital for education (UNEP, 2014). Electricity can facilitate SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, access to educational media and communications reliable, sustainable and modern in schools and in homes. It can increase use of dis - energy for all tance-learning modules and provide the opportunity SDG 7 is the one of the goal areas whose connections to use more sophisticated equipment for teaching, with education are the least developed in our sample - which allows wider access to more-specialized teach of reports. Only a few reports (World Bank, 2010; ing materials and courses (IIASA, 2014). Cleaner UNEP, 2014; UNESCO, 2015) mentioned any links energy options can free up time for women and girls at all. Looking at the reports produced outside the to study and improve their academic performance UN system, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2014 (UNEP, 2014). For example, cleaner and affordable contains no references to education. By contrast, the energy can enhance access to clean water, sanitation, - Global Energy Assessment published by IIASA of lighting, space heating/cooling, and energy for cook - fers a detailed analysis of many links. ing meals (IIASA 2014). Finally, rural electrification
13 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 11 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... helps retain good teachers in rural areas – a key lever getting jobs, staying healthy and participating fully in society (UNESCO, 2013/14). As education levels for enhancing the quality of rural education (IIASA for rural youth improve, they can enter a broader 2014). Constraints relating to this area include lack range of non-agricultural occupations (World Bank, of access to clean energy and in particular electricity; 2007). The reports also point to today’s emphasis and the consequent widespread “time poverty”, espe - on marketable skills, specialized high-level training cially among women. Many of the links put forth in meeting the demand from firms (UNIDO, 2013), the Global Energy Assessment can be seen as policy for example in “green” sectors (UNESCO, 2012), options. and to the importance of financial education (UN - SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive FPA , 2014). and sustainable economic growth, Two main groups of constraints and challenges are full and productive employment and identified by the reports. The first range of ideas decent work for all concerns the gap between supply and demand for The links between education and economic growth skills, with several reports pointing to a growing gap and jobs, the main topics included in SDG8, are by between the skills acquired in education and the na - far the most reflected in our sample of report, both ture of jobs available (ILO, 2014; World Bank, 2007, in terms of number of reports referring to them and 2014/15; UNDP, 2014; UNFPA, 2014; UNIDO, in terms of depth of elaboration. 2013). One report notes that in some countries, la - bor market returns to those who completed primary Many reports state the importance of education for or secondary education have declined sharply, while employment and growth in general. Channels em - the returns to those with tertiary education have - phasized include the impact of education, particular increased (World Bank, 2007). The second group - ly at secondary and tertiary levels, on workers’ pro of constraints focuses on gender aspects. Girls often ductivity and productive capabilities (World Bank, - leave school unprepared for work, or cannot trans 2013; UNFPA, 2014; UNDP, 2013; ILO, 2014, late educational accomplishments into remunerative 2014/15; UNESCO, 2013/14) and higher earnings jobs (UNFPA, 2014). In some regions, rising female (UNESCO, 2013/14; UNIDO, 2013; World Bank, education levels have not translated into dramatic 2013); the importance of education as a determi - increases in labor force participation rates for young nant of knowledge spillovers and entrepreneurship women. Social institutions and norms could be a (World Bank, 2013), both in the wage and non-wage reason (World Bank, 2007). sector (World Bank, 2007). A skilled labour force in manufacturing is expected to boost international - As to policy recommendations, many reports ad competitiveness. For example, investing in educa - vocate for higher investment in education in order tion has a positive effect on the growth of exports to stimulate growth and foster innovation (World (UNIDO, 2013). Current foreign direct investment - Bank, 2007; UNFPA, 2014; FAO, 2014). Recom is positively associated with achievements in health mendations range from general advice to invest to and education in previous years (UNDP, 2013; increase preschool enrolment among economically World Bank, 2007, 2014/15). Where enrolment and socially deprived households, raise educational in post-primary education is high, skill shortages attainment up to at least lower-secondary level, and are lower (World Bank, 2007). Rising educational - adopt education policies, to improving low-per attainment has had a particularly important effect - forming schools and classrooms by offering a qual on the labor supply choices for women. As women ity learning experience for the most disadvantaged acquire more education, they increasingly move out (World Bank, 2014/15). Some reports also suggest of traditional household or agricultural production to focus on strengthening informal apprenticeship activities and enter wage work (World Bank, 2007). (World Bank, 2013) and placing greater empha - Educating girls and women boosts their chances of sis on high-level, specialized training, with more
14 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 12 - formalized on-the-job training and vocational edu The reports note other connections that play out at cation, featuring closer interaction between educa - the household level. Incidence of child labour, for tional institutions and industry (UNIDO, 2013), example in agriculture, can limit children’s access to ensuring continuous training (World Bank, 2007, basic education (FAO, 2014). Combining paid em - 2014/15). It is noted that the balance and sequenc - ployment and household chores leaves children (and - ing of education policies across the three dimen especially girls) doubly disadvantaged and at greater sions—post-primary education opportunities, tools risk of repeating grades or dropping out of school - to enhance education decision making, and sec (UNESCO, 2015). Economic downturns can dis - - ond-chance education options—as well as prioritiza rupt children’s education development—especially tion among them (basic skills rather than post-basic when their parents lose their jobs. Long-term unem - skills) depends on the state of a country’s education ployment is a serious threat to children’s education - system, its level of development, its overall develop (UNDP, 2014). Jobs for women can change the way ment priorities, and the priorities of its young people - households spend money and invest in the educa (World Bank, 2007). Several reports highlight the tion and health of children. An increase in the share importance of adapting education content to life and of household income contributed by women often job market requirements in terms of skills (World results in improvements in children’s educational Bank, 2007, 2013; UNCTAD, 2014) and focusing attainment (World Bank, 2013). Access to finance on easing the school-to-work transition and to pre - has facilitated women’s education and health, and vent labour market mismatches (UNFPA, 2014). promoted investments in microenterprises (World Bank, 2013). Lastly, migration and remittances can Looking at the links from growth and jobs to ed - promote human capital accumulation. Migration ucation, a first connection that is made is at the expands options for education, especially in higher macroeconomic level. A report by WTO notes that education (World Bank, 2007). The possibility to economic growth is a necessary condition for devel - migrate may motivate greater investments in edu - opment – which explains why many countries with cation, and remittances may finance them (World strong economic growth are also making strides in Ba nk, 2013). improved health, educational attainment, living standards and poverty reduction (WTO 2014). Here too, a number of constraints and challenges are - UNDP reports, while acknowledging this relation identified. High unemployment (ILO, 2014a; World ship, tend to emphasize that economic growth may Bank, 2013) and skills mismatch are pointed out not be indispensable to achievements in health and by several reports, in relation to market distortions - education (UNDP 2010, 2013). In terms of caus (World Bank, 2013, UNDP, 2010). While there al links, one explanation of growing educational has been good overall progress on girls’ education, levels emphasizes economic changes—such as the - progress on women’s employment and representa shift from agriculture to industrial and service pro - tion has been much slower (UN Women, 2011/12). duction—that increase demand for higher skilled Women continue to earn significantly less than men. workers and raise the returns to education and thus And these differences are not fully explained by ed - boost demand (World Bank, 2007; UNIDO, 2013; ucation, experience, or sector of work (World Bank, UNDP, 2010). Competition has also driven up the 2013). Millions of women face ‘time poverty’ due to demand for skill-intensive technological innovation the double work burden of providing for families in - (World Bank 2007). Economic changes have driv addition to shouldering a large share of unpaid and en changes in educational approaches and content. time-intensive domestic labour. This curtails their Companies are driving a demand for ‘green skills’ opportunities for education and paid employment - and ‘green jobs’ (UNESCO, 2012). Business inter (UN Women 2011/12). ests have also increased the importance of work- Policy recommendations that relate to these links are based learning in addition to the formal education system (UNESCO, 2014). few in the reports – even though many of the links
15 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 13 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... presented above can be translated into policy rec - structural change (UNIDO, 2013). Individual innovation capacity must be developed through ommendations quite straightforwardly. The World investment in education and training (FAO, 2014). Bank points to the role of policy as being to ensure Specialized training by semi-public technical and that signals are adequately transmitted, providing vocational education and training institutions can incentives to continue skill accumulation by the help firms co-share training costs while guaranteeing young and those of working age alike (World Bank, the applicability of skills in the workplace (UNIDO, 2013). UNFPA advocates programs that help girls 2013). manage or overcome prevalent gender expectations, negotiate the school-to-work transition, and play a The links from industrialization to education receive role in the identification and promotion of safer and less attention in our sample. UNIDO notes that more accommodating workplaces than currently ex - as countries further develop their industries, the ist (UNFPA, 2014). motivation to increase value added drives a greater application of science, technology and innovation, SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, encourages more investment in skills and education promote inclusive and sustainable - and provides the resources to meet broader develop industrialization and foster innovation ment outcomes (UNIDO, 2013). Competition has Links between industrialization, infrastructure and - driven up the demand for skill-intensive technolog education are explored in several reports. Given ical innovation (World Bank, 2007). In addition, the closeness of the targets contained in SDG 9 to many innovations have allowed countries to improve those of SDG 8, separating the two is not always health and education at low cost (UNDP, 2010). No straightforward. constraints or challenges are explicitly put forward by the reports. A general policy recommendation is The role of education in supporting industrial de - for industrial policy instruments that provide explic - velopment and economic transformation, along with it incentives for human capital investments by firms other factors, is recognized in several reports (UN - and households, beyond the government’s required IDO, 2013; ILO, 2014; WTO, 2014; World Bank, investments in education (UNIDO, 2013). - 2010). Special emphasis is made on the role of educa tion as influencing innovation capacity (World Bank, SDG 10: Reduce inequality within 2010; FAO, 2014; UNIDO, 2013) and providing and among countries the foundation for technology absorption processes (World Bank, 2010) and diversification (UNIDO, Links between education and inequality are explored 2013). Specialized knowledge and experience in by several reports. Education is seen as both a factor - science and engineering may matter more than gen that conditions inequalities later in life, for exam - eral managerial capabilities and intermediate-level ple access to formal jobs (World Bank, 2013), and a technical skills in explaining innovation excellence powerful instrument for advancing equity (UNDP, by high-tech firms (UNIDO, 2013). It is noted that 2013). Inequality of opportunity in education for the development of wireless telecommunications and children is seen as having a negative impact on per - wireless education has enabled countries lagging be capita income (World Bank, 2007, 2014/15). Other - hind to leapfrog over the expensive investment in in reports point to the role of education as a tool for frastructure that mobilized the finances of developed people’s empowerment (UNESCO, 2013). Finally, countries in the 20th century (UNESCO, 2010). basic education provides the foundation of any tech - nology absorption process and reduces economic - No constraints or challenges are explicitly put for inequity (World Bank, 2010). - ward by the reports. In terms of policy recommen dations, it is noted that through government policy The main challenge mentioned is lack of correlation targeting key drivers, such as education and skills, between rising average levels of education and nar - - appropriability and/or international trade, govern rowing inequality. Messages are not fully consistent ments can set in motion a virtuous circle involving across reports in this regard, with one report pointing
16 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 14 of children from rich and poor households (UNDP, to this happening “generally, but not always”(UNDP, 2010, 2014), and the need to prioritize investments 2011), while other UNDP reports mention that most in young children that reach the most disadvantaged - regions show rising inequality in income and de groups (including girls) (World Bank, 2014/15). clining inequality in health and education (UNDP, 2013, 2014). Additionally, according to UNESCO, SDG 11: Make cities and human the failure over the past decade to assess progress in settlements inclusive, safe, resilient education goals by various population subgroups has and sustainable concealed wide inequality (UNESCO, 2013/14). The connection between urban development and Policy recommendations in this area emphasize education is practically absent from our sample. that raising educational attainment up to at least Links from education to cities focus on disaster risk lower-secondary level is likely to reduce income in - - reduction and management. Building disaster pre equality (World Bank, 2014/15). Intergenerational paredness requires significant long-term investments transmission of capabilities such as education within - in education (UNDP, 2014). Greater levels of liter families can perpetuate the benefits in the long run acy and primary education will strengthen people’s (UNDP, 2014). Education policies need to improve understanding of warnings and disaster prepared - low-performing schools and classrooms by offering ness plans (UNISDR, 2015). On the other hand, - quality learning experience for the most disadvan urbanization is seen as having “emerged as a key taged (World Bank, 2014/15). Innovators should positive influence on changes in education, confirm - consider education or training that can help foster ing an established finding on the vital role of cities in children’s creativity or critical thinking and include transmitting ideas and mobilizing political action” the poorest and most marginalized children into (UNDP, 2010). An urban child is almost 5 times such opportunities (UNICEF, 2015). more likely to complete secondary education than a rural child (World Bank, 2014/15). Other beneficial In the other direction, - equitable access to education effects of urbanization mentioned include growing - is seen as key to unlock the wider benefits of educa labor earnings that increase the opportunity cost of tion (UNESCO, 2013/14). Inequality in quality of raising children, which may raise women’s age of education between poor and rich is also pointed as marriage, educational attainment and labor mar - a key driver of inequalities of opportunity (UNDP, ket participation (World Bank, 2013). Few specific 2013; World Bank, 2007). In terms of challenges, policy recommendations emerge from our sample of reports note that despite progress, major inequali - reports. ties in education outcomes persist between groups within countries (World Bank, 2014/15). Social SDG 12: Ensure sustainable and cultural norms in many countries exclude some consumption and production patterns groups from education, primarily girls and young women, although ethnicity, caste, and disability Education is a central theme in global efforts to pro - are also dimensions of exclusion (UNESCO, 2010; mote a paradigm shift on SCP patterns, to change World Bank, 2007). Rising income inequality is - behaviors and lifestyles and achieve low-carbon so accompanied by greater polarization in educational cieties (UNESCO, 2009, 2012, 2014; UNEP, 2012, outcomes, which triggers a vicious circle of exclusion 2014; World Bank, 2010). Consumer education can and inequality (World Bank, 2014/15). UNDP men - promote lifestyle changes and more informed choices tions that disparities in income have risen in several (World Bank, 2010; UNEP, 2014). Consumers must regions, and inequality in education has remained be guided in choosing green energy options, hous - - broadly constant (UNDP, 2014). Policy recom ing options, household goods and environmentally mendations emphasize that universal, high-quality and socially responsible services in order to advance greener economies globally (UNESCO, 2014). Many public education can mitigate the gaps in education
17 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 15 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... governments in their role of providing an economic governments, NGOs, UN agencies and companies are increasingly emphasizing the importance of environment that facilitates informed decisions (e.g. - learning and capacity-building as they search for solu long-term weather forecasts, agricultural extension tions to sustainability challenges including climate services) (World Bank, 2010). UNESCO emphasizes change, disaster risk management, biodiversity loss the role of “coherent multi-level skills development - and sustainable production and consumption (UN responses” that address both consumption through ESCO, 2012). Civil society organizations (CSOs) raising environmental awareness and production by - have promoted SCP through a wide variety of activ moving to more environmentally conscious practices - ities, including research, advocacy, training, aware through training programs (UNESCO, 2014). ness-raising, education, networking and catalyzing While a number of reports address the connections multi-stakeholder partnerships. (UNEP, 2014). from education to SCP, the reverse ones are almost Among challenges identified, lack of education exclusively found in a single report in our sample, and training limits appropriate management of the UNESCO report on Education for Sustainable chemicals and wastes in many developing countries Development (UNESCO, 2014). The report notes (UNEP 2012). Reports also stress an ambiguous that global drivers for advancing education for sus - role of the media (e.g. television, radio, magazines, tainable development include changes in the physical newspapers and the internet), which can at the same environment; changing international guidelines and - time promote sustainability awareness and encour government regulations; and changes in consumer age consumption (UNESCO, 2012). demand for greener products and services. Public understanding and demand for sustainability-related Policy recommendations focus on the need to goods and services have resulted in pressure for ed - promote education for sustainable consumption ucational facilities to implement sustainability poli - in developed countries (UNESCO, 2013), in par - - cies. The report notes that low awareness of house ticular through enhancing media literacy in the holds regarding their power and water consumption public (UNESCO, 2012) and providing consumer is an obstacle to changing behaviours, which can be education (UNESCO, 2014). Increasing public overcome through adequate information. In terms of awareness of, and education on, the importance of policy areas, the report suggests that the education - biodiversity, the impacts of unsustainable consump sector should work in alignment and collaboration tion and production patterns, and the health benefits with long-standing sustainable development part - of a moderate and diverse diet, are seen as the main nerships and networks in different areas such as tools to moderate increases in overall demand for - climate change, biodiversity, water, poverty allevi food by reducing excessive consumption, especially ation and sustainable consumption and production of meat, by more affluent sectors of society (CBD, It also provides details on policies and management 2006). A longer-term task, common to all countries, systems needed to improve sustainability in campus - is to improve and reorient education systems to fos operations (UNESCO, 2014). ter the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to deal with current and future challenges (UNESCO, SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat 2013). This necessitates improving the amount and climate change and its impacts quality of training for teaching ‘green’ skills and The importance of education in relation to climate - education for sustainable development (ESD) ped change is emphasized by many reports in our sample. agogies across education systems, including specific In general, it is noted that education has a vital role skills in such sectors as sustainable design, green in limiting the causes and effects of climate change building, renewable energy and other low carbon (UNESCO, 2013/2014). The impacts of climate priority areas (UNESCO, 2014). A World Bank report points to education as one of the levers for change and extreme events depend on education,
18 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 16 among other factors (UNEP, 2012). Education and change spurs demand for adapted learning and capacity-building on this area, from governments, investment, especially for the very young, can equip NGOs and indeed, companies (UNESCO, 2012). people to adapt when a natural disaster takes away Second, climate shocks can permanently affect peo - their livelihood (UNDP, 2014). Education is critical ple’s health and education (World Bank, 2010). No - for helping people adapt to the consequences of cli constraints are mentioned, and no policy recommen - mate change, especially in poorer countries, where dations are provided beyond advocacy for education farmers dependent on rain-fed agriculture feel the for sustainable development. - threats most strongly (UNESCO, 2013/14). Edu cation can help drive behavioral change needed to SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use combat climate change (World Bank, 2010). Basic the oceans, seas and marine resources - education provides the foundation of [carbon-friend for sustainable development ly] technology absorption process, but a large enough There is no explicit reference to oceans in any report pool of qualified engineers and researchers is also of our sample. crucial (World Bank, 2010). In terms of constraints, research shows thatstudents SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial and the general public hold onto misunderstandings ecosystems, sustainably manage - about various aspects of climate change, the green forests, combat desertification, and house effects, and ozone layer depletion (World halt and reverse land degradation Bank, 2010). In addition, information, education, and halt biodiversity loss and awareness raising, as carried out so far, are at As with climate change and SCP, various reports best not enough to spur people to action and at worst emphasize the importance of education for raising counterproductive (World Bank, 2010). - awareness and changing beliefs, attitudes and be Beyond the recommendations regarding education - haviors towards environmental issues (e.g. UNES for sustainable development (UNESCO, 2009, CO, 2013/14; CBD, 2010). Education is seen as a 2013), which addresses climate change among other key component of efforts to promote more effective issues, few specific recommendations are provided environmental governance, including for protected in this area. UNESCO underscores the need for a areas (UNEP. 2012). Reports note various challeng - common framework to enhance climate responses es in this area. They concern insufficient educational through education, and to advocate education as a efforts to engage key actors and stakeholders to in - largely untapped strategic resource for building re - tegrate biodiversity concerns into sectors outside the silient and sustainable societies (UNESCO, 2013). - environment (CBD. 2006. 2010); the weak relation The World Bank notes that “incorporating climate ship between higher levels of education and greater change education in school curricula is a first step. concern for the environment (UNDP, 2011); and Developing a new cadre of professionals to tackle the insufficient use of traditional knowledge in environ - complex problems posed by climate change is equally mental policies and programs (UNEP 2012). important. Finally, an educated citizenry is essential In addition to recommendations pertaining to ESD to facilitate change” (World Bank, 2010). The report in general, the reports highlighted the following further notes the need for a different approach to areas. Understanding of biodiversity and its relation providing information about climate change (World to human well-being needs to be included in basic Ba nk, 2010). educational programs and promoted through the The links from climate change to education are general media (CBD, 2006). A much wider section scarcely explored in our sample. Only two links are of the public and decision-makers could be made put forth. First, the quest for solutions to climate aware of the role and value of biodiversity and the
19 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 17 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... steps needed to conserve it through education and tool to promote peace, justice and equality for sus - more effective dissemination of scientific knowledge - tainable development. Higher capabilities, particu - (CBD, 2010). It is important to support the develop larly in education, advance human agency—people’s ment of new research and educational competences capacity to make choices (UNDP, 2014). Education and professional careers for young students, so that has a significant role to play in shaping the values they can deal with global environmental challenges of future generations, redirecting societal preferenc - and sustainability (UNESCO, 2013). UNESCO es and inclinations, and instilling the empowering also advocates fostering new forms of transnational skills to enact them. It helps people understand de - collaboration in science and education, organized mocracy and deepens its foundations, promotes the around common needs and practices related to en - tolerance and trust that underpin it, and motivates vironmental change and sustainability (UNESCO, people to participate in politics (UNESCO 2013, - 2013). National environmental management infor 2013/14; World Bank, 2007, 2013; UNDP, 2010, mation systems need to be strengthened, as well as 2013). Educating girls and women, in particular, has the skill sets of associated staff (UNEP, 2012). Edu - unmatched transformative power by boosting their cation can be used to support sustainable customary own chances of getting jobs, staying healthy and - use of areas under agriculture, aquaculture and for participating fully in society (UNESCO, 2013/14). estry in order to achieve target 7 of the Convention More specific links include the following. Building on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2014). resilience requires boosting the capacity of individ - uals, societies and countries to respond to setbacks. Links from the environment to education are not Juvenile crime is positively associated with local much explored in our sample. Environmental deg - unemployment and poverty, and decreases with radation stunts people’s capabilities in many ways, family income and education (World Bank, 2007). going beyond incomes and livelihoods to include Homicide and armed violence occur most frequently impacts on health, education and other dimensions in poverty-stricken urban areas characterized by lack of well-being. It impedes education advances for - of employment, poor standards of housing, over - disadvantaged children, especially girls (UNES crowding and low standards of education and social CO, 2013; UNDP, 2011). The WTO proposes that amenities (UNDP, 2014). Studies show a greater “growing dependence on natural resources is associ - prevalence of physical violence by parents toward ated with declining levels of health and education” children in countries with lower education, literacy, (WTO, 2014). Continued loss of biodiversity has and income (World Bank, 2013). major implications for current and future human well-being. Cultural services such as spiritual and re - In terms of challenges and constraints, UNDP notes ligious values, opportunities for knowledge and ed - that individual achievements in health, education ucation, as well as educational and aesthetic values, and income, while essential, do not guarantee pro - are also declining. (CBD, 2010). No specific policy gress in human development if social conditions recommendations are provided. constrain individual achievements and if perceptions about progress differ (UNDP, 2013, 2014). Social SDG 16: Promote peaceful and and cultural norms in many countries exclude some inclusive societies for sustainable groups from education, primarily girls and young development, provide access to women, although ethnicity, caste, and disability are justice for all and build effective, also dimensions of exclusion (World Bank, 2007). accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels In terms of policy recommendations, UNESCO notes a need to advocate education as a largely un - Connections between education and inclusive socie - tapped strategic resource for building resilient and ties are covered by many reports in our sample, often in some detail. Education is widely perceived as a sustainable societies (UNESCO, 2013). The links
20 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 18 happen during childhood and adolescence; failures between education and access to justice for all and to invest at this stage are very costly to remedy later peaceful societies need to be further explored and (World Bank, 2007). Countries with high spending education programs and approaches need to be on health and education were more resilient in the transformed to achieve these objectives (UNESCO, - face of financial crises (UNDP, 2014). The encour 2015). The World Bank points to civic education and programs of youth development and youth action to agement of responsible financial behaviour through prior saving and affordable loans has made valuable - promote youth capabilities in citizenship, and high contributions to consumption, health and education lights the potential of peace education programs pro - (UNCTAD, 2014). UNCTAD further states that mote tolerance and conflict resolution skills among “the corporate contribution in both developed and youth living in areas of potential conflict, whether - developing countries in education is small to neg among rival gangs or rival ethnic or religious groups - ligible and likely to remain that way” (UNCTAD, (World Bank, 2007). The World Bank notes the im 2014). portance of increasing literacy among voters (World Ba nk, 2013) Obstacles and constraints are investigated in detail. UNESCO notes that insufficient financing is one In the opposite direction, the reports note that of the main obstacles to achieving Education for democratic governments are in general best able to All (UNESCO, 2013/14). Insufficient investment, advance human development goals such as raising funding or incentives are also deplored in specific education levels. However, material prosperity and areas, such as: ESD (UNESCO, 2009) and agricul - good achievements in health and education can co - tural training and education ((FAO, 2014). Chal - exist with nondemocratic practices (UNDP, 2010). lenges associated with the role of the private sector in The same report proposes that “democratization delivering education are discussed in some detail by - may have the strongest effects on primary educa several reports (UNCTAD, 2014; UNIDO, 2013; tion; decentralization can have stronger effects on FAO, 2014). higher levels of schooling” (UNDP, 2010). Conflicts disrupt essential public services such as education, Policy recommendations focus on several areas. Many doing permanent harm to people throughout their reports advocate increased resources going to the ed - lives (UNDP, 2014). States suffering (or emerging) ucation sector and suggest different ways in which from pervasive armed conflict have some of the this could be achieved. For countries at lower levels world’s worst indicators for education (UNESCO, of per capita GDP, focus should be on public invest - - 2011). Children in conflict affected countries repre ments that will yield long-term productive dividends, sent one-half of the world’s out-of-school children - including improvements in the quality of the educa (UNESCO-UNICEF, 2015). tional system and the share of children completing primary and secondary education (ILO, 2014). The SDG 17: Strengthen the means of gap could be filled by raising more domestic revenue, implementation and revitalize the devoting an adequate share of existing and projected global partnership for sustainable government resources to education and sharpening development the focus of external assistance (UNESCO, 2013/14). Messages on means of implementation for educa Many educational systems can expand and improve - - tion were spread across different reports. Substan by diversifying their funding sources (families, fees, public-private partnerships, income-generating tial public investment in social infrastructure such as education is seen as a prerequisite for effective activities and donor support) (World Bank 2007). sustainable development, and therefore an impor - Governments, donors and international organiza - tant component of the SDGs. (UNCTAD, 2014; tions must prioritize the places and the children with the greatest needs (UNESCO-UNICEF, 2015). UNDP, 2013). Investments in learning need to
21 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 19 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... are identified in both directions, from education to mends that the post-2015 frame - UNESCO recom work include explicit financing targets for education other goal areas and vice-versa. (UNESCO, 2013/14). However, the emphasis on different links differs Reports focus on different priority groups requiring markedly. Links between education and economic enhanced access, including the most vulnerable growth and employment (SDG 8), gender (SDG children who often go uncounted or unsupported: 5), economic equality (SDG 10), health (SDG 3), children with disabilities, in conflict zones or those - peaceful societies (SDG 16), and means of imple facing barriers to education due to language, gen - mentation (SDG 17) are the most covered overall in der or poverty (UNESCO-UNICEF, 2015); agri - our sample. This reflects a long tradition of stressing cultural education and training (FAO, 2014); and the importance of education as a catalyst for other unemployed workers in crisis sectors (ILO, 2014a). development areas, often in conjunction with health Targeted voucher programs and individual learning – connections that have been strongly emphasized - accounts can be used to make education more eq in the Human Development Reports of UNDP and uitable by targeting underserved groups like wom - the World Development Reports of the World Bank. en and youth (World Bank 2007, UNIDO 2013). By contrast, in addition to oceans, links between Conditional transfer payments are also put forth education and agriculture (SDG 2), cities (SDG 11), (UNDP, 2014; ILO, 2014). infrastructure (SDG 9), as well as water (SDG 6) and energy (SDG 7) are little reflected in the sum of UN A third policy area concerns how to mobilize the flagship publications. Lastly, there is relatively weak - private sector for the delivery of education. Pub coverage of linkages between education and SDGs lic-private partnerships can expand and improve 12 to 15, which address sustainable consumption post-primary education (World Bank, 2007). The and production, climate change, oceans and marine involvement of the private sector in technical and resources and terrestrial ecosystems. We come back vocational training is crucial for its success because to this point below. its involvement is the most efficient way to link skills to the labor market (UNIDO, 2013, World Different UN agencies tend to focus on different Bank, 2007). Specific proposals are made for the areas that match their focus and mandates. While agricultural sector (FAO, 2014) and urban transport reports of UNESCO, the UN specialized agency for (UN-Habitat, 2013). UNCTAD points to the need education, offer the most comprehensive account of for engagement with stakeholders and buy-in from education in relation to other development areas, oth - local communities in case of private investments in er organizations emphasize important connections as education (UNCTAD, 2014). well. For example, FAO focuses on education in the agricultural sector; and UNISDR covers education Discussion 4 in relation to disaster risk reduction, a cross-cutting issue with links to several of the SDGs. These areas The first conclusion from an overview of the key are not the main focus of UNESCO reports analyz - messages presented above is that the scientific and ed here. Considered together, the messages from UN - policy communities have not waited for the adop flagship reports provide a rich picture, which is very tion of the SDGs to investigate connections between comprehensive in terms of linkages covered. Figure 1 education and a broad range of other development below illustrates this comprehensiveness and diversi - areas. Taken together, flagship reports produced by ty. The figure maps each of the reports in our sample the UN system identify links between education with the SDG areas that are linked with education and all the other SDGs, with the notable exception of SDG14 on oceans. For most of the SDGs, links in these reports.
22 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 20 Figure 1 Links between education and other SDGs made by UN system flagship reports Author’s elaboration. Graph credit: Michael Dayan. Source: The left column represents SDGs, 1-17 and with exception of SDG 4 (education) and SDG 14 (oceans). The width Note: of each segment is proportional to the number of messages in the whole sample that address them in connection with education. The right column features the analyzed reports. The width of each segment reflects the number of references to education contained in each report. Links from left to right represent ideas linking education and other SDGs, allocated to each report. The width of the links is proportional to the number of related messages in each report. with other links to SDG 3 (health), SDG 8 (growth In order to better understand the richness of messag - and employment), SDG 10 (inequality), SDG 12 es contained in our sample, it is useful to compare it (sustainable consumption and production or SCP), to external benchmarks. One obvious benchmark is SDG 13 (climate change), and SDG 16 (peaceful the set of SDGs itself. Le Blanc (2015) has analyzed c and inclusive societies). This is represented in Figure the links among goals that are present in the SDGs through targets that refer to multiple goal areas. SDG 17 on means of implementation is not included in the c The SDG targets closely link education with gender, analysis by Le Blanc (2015).
23 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 21 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... Figure 2 Links between education and other SDGs through the SDG targets Author’s elaboration, from Le Blanc (2015). Source: The SDGs are represented as broader circles of differing colors, while targets are figured by smaller circles and have Note: the color of the goal under which they figure. Targets are reflected as linking two or more goals if their wording explicitly refers to those goals. evident from the discussion in section 3 above, the 2. A look at figure 2 is enough to see that many more links are reflected in the sum of UN reports than set of UN reports analyzed here is more balanced in those explicitly reflected in the SDGs as the result of this regard, and highlights many links from other a political process. goals to education. Another benchmark is a recent paper which aims The material collected for this paper allows us to go to examine the SDGs from a scientific perspective - beyond the recognition of mere links between edu (ICSU and ISSC, 2015). The International Council cation and other SDG areas and produce “conceptu - for Science and International Social Science Council al maps” of these links across the whole SDG system. asked small groups of expert scientists on each SDG - In order to illustrate this, we aggregate the conceptu - are to, inter alia, identify links between the goal be al links found in all the reports into a simple systems ing considered and targets under all the other goals. map. Given that we found no blatant contradictions As such, links between education and other goals are among the ways different reports view the different identified in the chapter that focuses on SDG4, as links in the system, aggregating those links seems well as in each of the other chapters. Many of these a valid way of producing what could be called an - links are not specified in detail. In addition, the fo (implicit) conceptual map underlying the messages cus is clearly on links from education to other goals, d on education put forward by the UN system. and much less on links in the other direction. As Figure 3 shows a simplified version of the map, as Indeed, the tables in the report explicitly recognizes only d - it emerges from our content analysis. Putting ed links to education from access to sanitation (SDG 6), basic ucation at the center of the map, we selected only energy services (SDG 7), economic growth (SDG 8) and one link from and to each SDG. We show direct inequalities (SDG 10).
24 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 22 many of the other goals. In turn, progress on most of links between education and other SDGs, as well as important intermediary links that the reports the other goals (and the removal of associated barri - emphasize. Such links include, for example, the im ers) has critical synergies with progress on education. - While the former has been consistently advocated, pacts of increased access to water and clean energy on reducing time poverty, which in turn improves the latter seems newer and yet worthy of considera - access to education and educational outcomes. More tion for policy purposes. - complete maps would have to consider other indi Of course, this map does not represent a coherent rect links as well. These links are important, as they and unified “world view” of the UN system vis-à- often constitute the basis for advocacy of education vis the connections between education and other e policies. areas of sustainable development. Indeed, as shown above, no report or UN agency in our sample covers Gathering the links into a single maps highlights links with all the SDGs. In addition, each report that the links from education to other SDG areas operate through five main “channels” (in light green emphasizes different links, even within the same - on the map). Labor productivity and innovation ca SDG area. Therefore, it is clear that there is no one “correct map”. Indeed, contrasting a simplified map pacity and entrepreneurship are two of the channels that are emphasized in relation to incomes, eco - such as the one above with the multiple links that nomic growth and poverty. General education also are described in section 3 highlights the importance creates awareness, which may impact behaviors and of considering a multiplicity of reports with different society demands relevant to several SDGs (e.g. SCP, perspectives. Nonetheless, because it represents more than each of the reports in our sample, a map such ecosystem conservation, climate change). Education - and training create the specialized skills for ecosys as this can be a useful starting point for discussion of the UN science-policy interface on education (see tem management, climate adaptation, changing pro - f below). duction patterns. Lastly, education transmits values, changes social norms and enables empowerment. In the other direction, the links between other SDGs areas are of two generic types. First, progress on some of the SDGs (especially industrial transformation or shift to sustainable production patterns) translates into changed demands on the education system in terms of educational content. Second, for many SDG areas, lack of progress in this area creates barriers to access to education or to educational outcomes. Such barriers can be clustered in four categories: conflicts, economic shocks, environmental degradation, and time poverty, which is caused in particular by lack of access to drinking water and energy. - A clear insight from the particular map we have pro duced here is that education can act as a catalyzer for e For example, women’s empowerment is generally assumed to be a factor affecting inequality (SDG10) and economic growth (SDG 8). Thus, education efforts geared to wom - f Also, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a com - plete map of the SDG system, which would record all the en, through contributing to women empowerment, may important links among the SDG areas; for this, an analysis ultimately contribute to decreasing inequality and benefit growth. similar to the one we do for education would be necessary.
25 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 23 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... , INNOVATION CAPACITY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 8 9 SDG LABOUR Growth and jobs SDG 2 Industrial management PRODUCTIVITY for sustainable transformation SPECIALIZED SKILLS SDG Food and agriculture 1 SHO CKS 13 ECONOMIC SDG Pov er ty SDG change climate 3 15 SDG Health SDG Ecosystem DE GR AD ATIO N conser vati on ENVIRONMENTAL Education 5 SDG Gender equality TIME POVERTY CONFLICTS 6 16 SDG sanitation Water and SDG Peaceful societies , 12 7 , NORMS SDG 10 production Sustainable SDG Energy 11 SDG consumption and Inequality EMPOWERMENT VALUES SDG Human settlements energy trans ition Fac il itates Authors’ elaboration. The figure represents links between education and the other SDGs that are made in our sample of UN reports. Yellow round boxes indicate SDGs other than AWARENESS Source: A simplified map of the links between education and other SDG areas, built from the messages contained in UN flagship reports Note: Figure 3 education. Green boxes indicate critical channels through which education affects other SDGs. Orange boxes indicate channels through which other SDG areas affect education. SDG 14 (oceans) is not represented, as no link between it and education was put forward in our sample. SDG 17 is not represented either.
26 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 24 In spite of the richness highlighted above, our anal - in development practices that further emphasis on them is not needed. The links may be reflected in the ysis reveals gaps, both in terms of linkages that have parts of the reports that present case studies and good been explored by science and are not covered in the practices, which were not part of our investigation reports we analyzed, and in terms of consistency be - (see above section 2). However, from a science-policy tween the linkages that are emphasized by reports perspective, it is important to consider these links in and the policy implications that the reports draw. - order to examine questions such as desirable alloca - Ultimately, these raise questions regarding the effec tion of resources among competing sectors having an tiveness of the science-policy interface on education impact on education outcomes. in the UN system. Another area of concern – and for improvement – is The first gap concerns the very low coverage of the - the low number of connections made between edu links between education and energy. In order to find cation and SDGs 12 to 15. These are areas that were a comprehensive elaboration of these links, one has to not covered by the MDGs. Connections between turn to the Global Energy Assessment, a publication SDG 12 (ensure sustainable consumption and pro - coming from outside the UN system. Focus on this duction patterns) and education were most elabo - area in flagship UN system publications seems to be rated in reports by UNESCO (reports on education lacking. This does not mean that expertise does not for sustainable development), UNEP, and the World exist in some parts of the UN system, however (for Bank. Connections between education and climate example, in UNEP). Rather, the available knowledge change are picked up by only a few organizations does not seem to easily percolate to other parts of the (UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank) system that are not directly concerned with energy and are missing in other reports. As mentioned or sustainable consumption and production. If edu - in section 2, we also analyzed the IPCC Working cation for sustainable energy is really an important Group II report from 2014 (IPCC, 2014). The re - component of energy transitions, and in turn ener - port contains very few links to education. Hence, in gy transitions are identified as a critical element of this particular case, it cannot be said that the IPCC future paths to sustainable development, then these reports are filling gaps not addressed by the UN issues should be covered in more reports than is the system. The strongest messages in relation to links case. This may point to a lack of clear institutional - to goal 15 on terrestrial ecosystems come from UN “home” for these issues in the UN system. ESCO, UNEP and CBD. In general, links between Another surprising gap is the absence of reference education and the “new” SDGs can only be found in in our sample of reports on the links from health to - recent reports that specialize on sustainability-relat education. The evidence on such links seems strong, ed topics (e.g. for SDG 12 – UNEP report on sus - and indeed they are routinely presented as one of the tainable consumption and production or UNESCO - social co-benefits of providing access to drinking wa reports on education for sustainable development). ter and sanitation. It could well be that these links Consideration of these links is yet to be integrated are considered so obvious and already incorporated into a wider system perspective of education.
27 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 25 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... Figure 4 Links between education and sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) made by UN system flagship reports Source: Author’s elaboration. Graph credit: Michael Dayan. Note: See note for figure 1.
28 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 26 Lack of any reference to education in relation to emphasized in the set of reports analyzed here seem oceans and seas is also an area that deserves atten - to sometimes reflect contradictory messages and - tion. While there certainly is a need to raise aware imperfect understanding of the way in which these ness about anthropogenic influence on oceans, for links operate. Going forward, it would be important example pollution that threatens marine biodiversity to understand whether this lack of clarity reflects the and overfishing, no report in our sample covered state of scientific knowledge, or inadequate synthesis this topic. Connections between education and bi - of that knowledge in UN flagship reports. odiversity loss or unsustainable consumption and - For many SDG areas, while causal links are iden production patterns made in various reports may tified and highlighted as important, the constraints implicitly cover these issues to some extent. Howev - that exist in relation to exploiting those links are not er, to date, there does not seem to exist an assessment elaborated upon, or no concrete policy messages are that would address education in relation to policies provided. Taking energy as an example, while the set - to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and ma - of publications analyzed here documents the impor rine resources in a comprehensive manner – and this tance of electricity access for educational facilities is a major gap, which would need to be addressed in (with impacts on e.g. quality of education, access coming years. to IT-based content, etc.), no corresponding policy Weak coverage of goals 12 to 15 can come as a sur - recommendations are provided. This means that prise, given the existence within the UN system of policies that would focus on access to electricity of efforts to promote education for sustainable develop - educational facilities on a priority basis compared to ment. The United Nations Decade of Education for other electricity uses (e.g. in a context of low general Sustainable Development (2005-14) aimed to inte - access) are not contemplated. For some SDG areas, grate the values inherent in sustainable development this may not be a concern. However, for others, one into all aspects of learning to encourage changes may wonder if further policy analysis may not be in behavior that allow for a more sustainable and warranted. just society for all (UNEP, 2012, 2014; UNESCO, - In some SDG areas, “aspirational” links and syner 2009, 2012, 2014). Its scope covered a wide range of gies are strongly put forward by reports, but the same areas, including: climate change, biodiversity, water, reports give little exposure to evidence that points to SCP and disaster risk reduction (UNESCO, 2014). obstacles or limitations to making them work. For Yet, while education for sustainable development is example, many reports in our sample emphasize the recognized and advocated as important in all these - importance of education for raising awareness on en - areas (UNESCO, 2012), so far this has not translat vironmental issues and for sustainable consumption. ed into systematic incorporation of lessons learned, Yet, scientific literature has documented the gaps challenges and policy recommendations from these between awareness raising and education on those efforts into UN flagship reports, including some issues, changes in beliefs and values, and changes from UNESCO. Efforts to bridge this gap and share in behavior that such education aims to trigger (e.g. the lessons learnt from these programs more broadly Heberlein, 2012; Moser & Dilling, 2010; etc.). The in the UN system could be an avenue for progress in nuances from the literature, while acknowledged by coming years. some of the reports, do not come across strongly as For some SDG areas, we find a relative simplicity a whole. of the messages and links that are put forward, to Similarly, while some reports lament insufficient the point that it is sometimes difficult to separate resources being devoted to specific topics, few seem advocacy from evidence-based messages. Taking to acknowledge that this merely reflects the low pri - SDG10 as an example, the messages regarding the links between education and inequality that are ority given to them by governments. Hence, policy
29 HOW WELL ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN EDUCATION AND OTHER SUSTAINABLE 27 DEVELOPMENT GOALS COVERED IN UN FLAGSHIP REPORTS?... recommendations provided by the reports in these specific conceptual (causal) links among education areas may be perceived as shaky, naïve or too opti - and other SDG areas; the constraints and challenges mistic. In some areas, very little is provided in terms that they emphasize in relation to these links; and of concrete recommendations for implementing the policy recommendation that they put forward. and scaling up education on these topics. From a Our analysis shows that the UN system has not science-policy perspective, this can seem surprising, waited for the adoption of the SDGs to investigate given the UN initiatives mentioned above that focus - links between education and multiple areas of sus on education for sustainable development in general, tainable development. Taken together, global reports as well as on narrower areas of education. Reflecting produced in recent years capture a rich network of lessons learned from these programs more systemat - linkages between education and other SDG areas. ically in UN flagship reports focusing on education While some connections might seem intuitive and would seem to be an avenue for progress in coming obvious, others are not. Indeed, our analysis shows years. that no single UN report has considered all the At a more general level, while our sample of reports potentially relevant links, so that a comprehensive draws a comprehensive picture of interconnectedness overview can be obtained only by looking at many between education and other SDGs, the perspective reports together. Different UN organizations tend to in most reports has a strong focus on developing emphasize different links, in general the ones that - countries, and relatively little on developed coun relate directly to their mandates, which contribute - tries. If the SDGs offer a universal set of goal appli to an aggregate picture that is much more complete cable to all countries, the perspective of UN flagship than any of its components. reports will have to integrate different regions and In spite of this comprehensiveness of the aggregate contexts more consistently. picture, we identify several gaps in terms of links Finally, even though their sum provides a good bird’s that are not well covered by the sum of reports - eye view of the links between education and the oth produced by the UN system. Those include links er SDGs, because of the specialized focus of many between education and energy, water, urbanization, reports, questions regarding the desirable allocation terrestrial ecosystems and oceans. We also point to of resources to different sub-components of the ed - unequal focus across areas on translating evidence ucational system across the various SDG areas are on linkages into policy implications. In both cases, hard to answer. A generic policy issue in this regard there would be a need to investigate whether the might be, in which area of education is it worth put - gaps are due to little exploration of these links in the ting a government’s marginal dollar, given current literature, or to the fact that available evidence and circumstances and national priorities for the future? insights are not adequately reflected in the reports. This is an immediate question facing policy-mak - - In the former case, this would call for scientific re ers in the face of a multi-dimensional development search covering those links; in the latter, for stronger agenda; yet, lack of an integrated, cross- sectoral connections between UN flagship reports and the look at education in relation to the rest of the system available knowledge base, inside and outside the prevents answering it. UN system. In some areas, both may be necessary. Doing so would be an important undertaking going forward, as it would allow for a full assessment of the Conclusion 5 UN science-policy interface on education. In this paper, we examine the links between educa - This paper is not policy prescriptive. We do not at - tion and the other SDGs, as reflected in recent major tempt a detailed analysis of the policy recommen - global reports from the UN system. We focus on the way these publications, taken as a whole, identify dations contained in the reports we looked at. Our
30 DESA WORKING PAPER NO. 146 28 clusters often offers greater depth of examination of recommendations instead focus on possible ways in which the UN system could improve its coverage of - the interlinkages among sectors, in a greater varie ty of contexts (for example, at different geographic the links between education and other SDG areas. - scales and in locations at different levels of develop Yet, we think that the systematic analysis undertak - ment), and correlatively more complex and nuanced en here can provide an initial basis for an integrated policy perspectives. Focusing on specific clusters analysis of policy priorities for education in the con - text of the SDGs. Versions of the “conceptual map” would be a good way to further investigate whether of the links between education and other SDGs and messages from UN flagship publications adequately reflect this complexity. other results presented in this paper could be used as a basis for dialogue between the policy community In a modeling perspective, the map that we derived and scientists. Specifically, an examination of this for education could be used as a benchmark to as - map by education experts from both sides could help sess how existing scenario models address the links assess whether all the links that matter in practice - between education and other SDG areas. If com are considered; whether the policies that are put bined with similar maps for other SDG areas, the - forward in UN reports appropriately reflect empir map could also be a building block for a reference ical evidence; and whether the explicit and implicit map of the whole SDG system that comprehensive - policy priorities that emerge from the messages of ly reflects feedbacks and interdependences among the UN system do indeed suggest the most efficient sectors, supporting efforts towards modelling of the use of resources to promote education-related goals SDGs in the context of an integrated biophysical and in the broader context of the SDGs. We think that economic system – a research agenda that is rapidly this next step would be quite a valuable undertaking. developing (UN, 2015). Doing it seriously would, in our opinion, require a Finally, the methodology developed for this paper team of education experts from different sub-fields, has potential application for areas other than educa and several months of work – typically the work in - - tion. It could help organizations whose work focuses volved in a UN or World Bank flagship report. on other SDG areas to map linkages between those The material collected for this study could be utilized and other SDGs, and assess how well these linkages in a number of other ways. An avenue for research are reflected in their work. would be to focus on the role of education in clusters or “nexuses” of SDG areas. The literature on sector
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