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How to measure implementation of education for sustainable development: Methodology for SDG indicator 4.7.1

Tue, April 16, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific A


The Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The SDGs include a broad education goal that aims at “inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. SDG 4 is further subdivided into ten targets, among them target 4.7 that highlights the knowledge and skills needed for sustainable development:

“By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

The official indicator for monitoring of progress towards target 4.7 in the global SDG monitoring framework is indicator 4.7.1, which examines the “extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in: (a) national education policies, (b) curricula, (c) teacher education and (d) student assessment”.

At present, there is no internationally established methodology for indicator 4.7.1. The Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), created by the United Nations Statistical Commission to develop and implement the global indicator framework for the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, has therefore grouped indicator 4.7.1 among the SDG indicators at the lowest level of methodological development and the lowest data availability.

This paper presents a methodology developed by UNESCO, the UN custodian agency for indicator 4.7.1, to set an international standard and improve the availability of cross-nationally comparable data for SDG target 4.7. Data are collected with the monitoring process for UNESCO’s 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that occurs every four years. National Ministries of Education respond to a questionnaire developed by UNESCO, which then compiles and analyses the results of the survey.

The latest round of reporting on implementation of the 1974 Recommendation was conducted in 2016. For this data collection, UNESCO revised the reporting guidelines and questionnaire in order to align them with the concepts in SDG target 4.7 and indicator 4.7.1. The responses from 83 UNESCO member states were examined with a principal component analysis, which identified the distinct components that reflect the four domains captured in indicator 4.7.1. Based on this analysis, countries can be grouped according to the degree of progress towards mainstreaming of global citizenship education and education for sustainable development.

The methodology developed by UNESCO for SDG indicator 4.7.1 is theoretically sound, transparent as to what is being measured, statistically coherent and reliable, and replicable because it is based on a regular data collection mechanism by UNESCO.