How can we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for and with children?

Awareness, action and accountability.

A girl in New York City holds a poster calling for global action to combat climate change.

In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a safer, cleaner and more prosperous world by 2030. Now it’s up to all of us to join forces to address the most pressing global challenges and turn goals into action.

To accelerate progress towards the SDGs for every child, UNICEF embraces a “3As” approach: raising awareness, taking action and holding decision makers accountable for progress.

1. Awareness

With the right tools and information, children and young people can play a critical role in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, sparking action in their communities and holding leaders to account.

This is why UNICEF works to raise awareness of children’s rights – educating and engaging young people on why the goals matter to their everyday lives.

We do this through three flagship initiatives:

The World’s Largest Lesson

The World’s Largest Lesson reaches millions of children, primarily through schools. Co-founded by UNICEF and Project Everyone, the initiative offers a set of free and translated lessons, animations and activities for every classroom.

Educators can use the World's Largest Lesson to teach students about the SDGs and identify actions children and young people can take to make the goals a reality in their communities.

Comics Uniting Nations

Comics Uniting Nations works with world-renowned comic book artists and storytellers to bring the SDGs to life. Co-founded by UNICEF, PCI Media Impact, and Reading with Pictures, the library of comics has reached 20 books and counting.

Through this partnership, our Superhero Comic Contest asks children and young people to think creatively about superpowers to achieve the SDGs: Young people submit their original superhero ideas on different goal areas for a chance to work with us on publishing their own comic book.

SDG Activate Talk Series

Youth Activate Talks bring young change-makers to the stage to showcase for decision makers the ways they are supporting the goals, and to inspire others to take action. Through moderated discussions using activism, the arts, invention and innovation, young speakers welcome their peers and leaders to join them in support of the SDGs.

UNICEF has organized SDG Activate Talks all over the world. Here’s how you can too.

Young activists address the 2017 United Nations Oceans Conference in New York City.
Dibley, New York 2017
Young activists address the 2017 United Nations Oceans Conference in New York City.

2. Action

With millions of children and young people becoming aware of the goals, more and more are taking action across the globe.

We commit to acting, too. From health to education to child protection, UNICEF’s work is guided by the SDGs. We support governments to act for and with children as they plan, budget and implement programmes and policies. Often our support takes the form of providing technical knowledge; assessing data availability and gaps; establishing SDG baselines; and facilitating consultations with children and youth.

Annually, UNICEF also develops key asks for governments to take into consideration as they carry forward the SDGs.

3. Accountability

Global leaders must be held to account on commitments made. At UNICEF, we help do this in two ways: (1) by collecting, analyzing and sharing data on children to monitor progress, and (2) by bringing children’s perspectives on the SDGs to decision makers to promote accountability.

In Indonesia, for example, UNICEF assisted the national government with the SDGs Baseline Report on Children to ensure no child is left behind in the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the SDGs. And in Ghana, UNICEF ran a poll on youth and the SDGs through U-Report ─ a free, global, SMS-based tool for community participation. When responses indicated low awareness of the SDGs, UNICEF and the government joined forces to engage youth for positive social change.