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SDG Resources for Educators - Sustainable Cities and Communities

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A sustainable city is one that respects sustainable development priorities from their social, economic and environmental perspective, and that allows its inhabitants to live in good conditions and in harmony with their surrounding nature.

Nowadays half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – live in cities. By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. In the next few decades 95% of this urban expansion will take place in the developing world. 828 million people live in slums today, with this figure constantly increasing. The world’s cities occupy just 3% of the earth’s land, but account for 60-80% of its energy consumption and for more than 70% of its carbon emissions.

Why Education is crucial to achieving SDG-11

Quality education provides the appropriate tools to ensure the monitoring of waste management and air quality. It prepares communities to manage their resources properly and tackle climate change. Through participatory approaches, communities are engaged in discussions and in planning activities for the improvement of their own cities. (Access to Learning objectives for SDG-11)

Early Childhood Care and Education

  • By means of field trips and gardening activities, children at this stage learn about natural cycles and systems. They are able to participate in eco-projects under adult supervision, thereby awakening their creativity and problem-solving abilities. At the same time, in a natural way, they learn to show empathy towards other people and their surrounding environment. (Access Educational materials here)

Primary Education

  • At this level, learners get acquainted with the nature and components of cities and of our basic needs as humans, including for food, housing, energy, transport and water. They develop their understanding of the multicultural nature of cities and towns, while becoming aware of the importance of sustaining their immediate natural environment. (Access Educational materials here)

Secondary Education

  • The understanding of basic human needs is deepened at this stage, as well as the knowledge of how these are addressed in local urban, peri-urban and rural settlements. On this basis, students are capable of contextualizing these human needs within the needs of the greater surrounding ecosystems, and become more interested in and responsible for protecting their immediate environment. (Access Educational materials here)

Multimedia Educational Resources

Get Inspired

  • Green Kindergartens – environmental education for young children Live and Learn Environmental Education & Vanuatu Early Childhood Association, Vanuatu - Page 17 - A comprehensive handbook was developed with consultation with 26 teachers. It covers 6 environmental topics and guides teachers through experiential learning activities, including songs, story telling and art projects they can use with children. The handbook is designed to complement the two Green Kindergartens posters “Waste” and “Gardening”. These posters and booklet were pretested before design with a group of 16 teachers and changes were made to ensure they were useful for teachers. Four education workshops took place at the pilot schools, which started the dialogue around the environment and the role of parents in teaching their children about the important environmental issues facing Vanuatu. Environmental education experts from Live & Learn and Preschool advisors discussed environmental issues with parents and created an action plan for the school.

Pedagogical Resources

  • Ali Finds A Way - An adventure to support Sustainable Development Goal 11.
  • Learning About Transport - This resource explains the global context of transport, health and the environment, food miles, transport and trade and sustainable transport, and encourages to think critically about transport.
  • Roots Around The World - This pedagogical guide focuses on urban gardening and is suitable for elementary cycles 1, 2 and 3 (Grades 1 to 6).

Ideas for Classroom Activities

  • The Power Of Peace - This resource aims to:

    • Explore some definitions of peace;
    • Investigate and recognize characteristics, actions and symbols of peaceful activists;
    • Determine ways to incorporate peace into the classroom and the world.
  • Urbanisation And Megacities - This case study examines the challenges of human wellbeing and urbanisation, especially in the megacity of Jakarta. Begin with the DVD activity worksheet to generate curiosity and student enquiry.
  • Travel Debate - These literacy / oracy activity ideas are suitable for Geography and PSE.

Multimedia Educational Resources

  • Join Us To Localize The Global Goals - Learn how local and regional governments work to transform the global goals into local actions.
  • How To Tell A Love Story - Struggling to get people to care about conservation or climate change? Having problems communicating biodiversity? Find out how you can help re-connect people and nature using Love not Loss.
  • Rising Sea Levels - Mr Anote Tong served as President of Kiribati and well known for his efforts to raise global awareness on the threat posed by climate change, visits Rurubao School to talk about rising sea levels.

Get Inspired

  • The ESD Rice Project-Using rice farming methods to teach environmental protection - Children visit the rice paddies and participate in various activities to discover the local fauna and flora, and to learn how to protect them. They also learn to farm by stirring the earth, sowing, weeding, harvesting, threshing and, finally, tasting the rice produced. Meanwhile, in the field, the young apprentices study food and live species, which raises their awareness on the natural richness of their environment.

Pedagogical Resources

  • Sustainable Cities: Why They Matter - Technical Note presenting SDG 11, what the goal is, some of the most pressing challenges cities face today, why we should care, what happens if cities are just left to grow organically?
  • Teaching And Learning For A Sustainable Future - Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is a UNESCO programme for the UN Decade of ESD. It provides professional development for teachers, curriculum developers, education policy-makers, and education authors.

Ideas for Classroom Activities

  • Understanding Sustainable Living - This resource aims to:

    • Explain the concept of sustainability;
    • Evaluate various lifestyle choices for sustainability using an online ecological footprint calculator to real-life data; 
    • Identify actions students can take.
  • Understanding Community Violence - This resource aims to:
    • Understand what violence is and how it can exist in different forms;
    • Explore the different reasons for violence around the world;
    • Make connections between local and global experiences of violence;
    • Develop solutions for preventing violence.
  • Understanding The Challenge Of Finite Resources - This resource aims to:
    • Understand the urgent challenge that finite resources pose to our current economic system;
    • Explore economic history since the industrial revolution through personal narrative.

Multimedia Educational Resources

  • Gender And Mobility - There is increasing concern about women’s safety in cities with the fear of violence in public spaces restricting their movement and freedom to exert their right as citizens.
  • Paper City – An Urban Story - As part of its Urban October celebrations, UN-Habitat has launched “Paper City”, a stop-motion video animation portraying today’s urban challenges using a paper and cardboard mock city. It points out possible urban solutions in a visual and attention-captivating way that is fun and easy to understand.
  • Upgrading Slums For Better Cities - Sustainable slum upgrading is achievable using a programmatic, rights-based and gender sensitive approaches that seek to understand, and devise strategies to improve slum challenges at the national, city and neighbourhood levels.

Get Inspired

  • It's about sustainability. Annual Sustainability Report Fayette County Public Schools  - This model supports the national movement towards broader, more inclusive problem-solving in all areas of sustainability to equip schools for 21st century excellence. It pursues its aim in various ways: by reducing environmental impact and costs; by improving the health and wellness of schools, students and staff; and by providing environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways. The following is a summary of accomplishments and progress made by the Sustainability Team from January 2014 to December 2014.