“Sulitest” results highlight level of awareness on challenges addressed by SDGs

17 October 2017

The Sustainable Literacy Test (Sulitest) evaluates knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among students in higher education. The  findings of 2017 report emphasizes a relative homogeneity in the level of awareness amongst the 17 SDGs, even if significant differences are identified with average scores of expected  correct answers ranging from 34% to 67%. The SDG4 stands at 57% meaning that the challenges addressed by this specific SDG need to be tackled more urgently in terms of education and awareness.

The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), a partnership between United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNESCO, United Nations Environment, UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, United Nations University (UNU), UN-HABITAT and UNCTAD, was created in 2012 in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The Sulitest is introduced as an international initiative aimed at raising awareness on sustainability and assessing sustainability literacy through an online training and assessment tool: The Sustainability Literacy Test. The 2017 report was launched in July 2017.

The trends highlighted in the above graph rely on the results of the Core Module during the 2016 – 2017 academic year. The Sulitest Core Module uses 30 questions covering a comprehensive scope of sustainability. The Core Module uses the same question bank for every respondent worldwide.

In addition, each question is attached to one or up to 3 SDGs so that the results can be interpreted in line with the SDG framework. Taking the 30 questions used in the Core Module allows the full scope of the 17 SDGs to be covered. The sample of respondents for the academic year 2016-2017 is 16,575 students from 170 universities in 31 countries.

As presented in the above figure, this global result indicates that the level of conscious on challenges addressed by the SDGs is relatively homogenous: there are neither SDGs with a very low level of awareness (i.e. under 10%) nor SDGs with complete awareness (i.e. over 90%). This heterogeneity highlights the need for the development of education and initiatives to raise awareness on specific SDGs.

The Sulitest has been created to make sure current and future decision-makers have sufficient awareness on sustainability challenges to take informed and effective decisions and to collectively build a sustainable future.

UNESCO remains committed to monitoring the progress towards the achievement of Target 4.7, with a focus on Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship. Regular reports, news, analyses, publications and links to data sets produced by UNESCO and its partner provide evidence that indicate how the world is progressing towards the achievement of the Target.