Goal 4. Quality Education



Education has been recognized for many years as a critical factor in addressing environmental and sustainability issues and ensuring human well-being. The importance of education and learning in supporting change is justified by research evidence. Education programs – particularly in non-formal settings – and when widely accessible to women and girls have broad positive effects. These include beneficial effects on family planning and mortality, social equality, economic vitality and entrepreneurship and lifting people out of poverty, food security, improved health, social coherence and political stability, and better natural resource management in developing countries.


Education is a key part of working to reduce vulnerability to economic, social and environmental dislocation and building more resilient systems. In developed countries, research indicates that education enables people to perform better economically, enhances health and extends life span, promotes civic engagement, and improves sense of wellbeing. This goal is both an end and a cross-cutting means. That is, achieving this goal is desirable in itself for the evidence-based reasons given above. What is much weaker in the current articulation of the goal and its targets is education as a vehicle or instrument for change.


Education can play a vital role in bringing about sustainable change over time because it is change which is owned by affected and participating stakeholders. The goal currently emphasizes education in terms of its potential economic and social benefits – there is no recognition that education through awareness raising, training and capacity building can help protect environmental quality and lead to wiser resource use; only Target 4.7 mentions sustainable development as such

Agencies Taking Action: