Promoting Education for Sustainable Development

How to empower people of all ages and backgrounds to understand the challenges facing our world today, and to responsibly act upon them? This question is at the heart of UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that aims to scale up ESD action worldwide, in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also the question guiding the UK-based non-profit organization Hard Rain Project, which won the 2017 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development for its innovative international exhibition projects Hard Rain and WHOLE EARTH?. In the framework of the GAP, the Prize honours and showcases outstanding ESD programmes. With generous funding from the Government of Japan, UNESCO annually rewards three winners with USD 50,000 each. With the support of UNESCO, the UK Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the Hard Rain Project has adapted WHOLE EARTH? to the SDGs, to raise awareness of sustainability challenges – and solutions – among an even larger public. We hope the stunning images and text will inspire and challenge visitors to turn thoughts into action.

A citizen's guide to the goals

Bob Dylan was more than 50 years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 1962 he wrote a song called “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” It painted a picture of failure, both of people and the planet we live on, “Where the people are many and their hands are all empty/Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters/… /Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten.” At the end of his song he asked: “What’ll you do now…?”* It took governments and their people – or people and their governments – more than half a century to reply. But when it came, the reply was radical, perhaps even revolutionary. On 25 September 2015, 193 governments agreed to do 17 impossible things, from ending poverty and hunger to protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. To listen to “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” synced to pictures that bring alive the problems the SDGs respond to, visit
For each goal they set specific targets, all of which must be hit by 2030, if not sooner. If taken seriously, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) change everything. The planet used to be divided in economists’ jargon into “developing” countries and “industrialised” nations. But the SDGs make all countries “developing countries” – developing new, low-carbon ways of heating, air-conditioning, getting around, manufacturing, farming and prospering. The SDGs challenge rich and poor countries alike. Meeting the SDGs will require spectacular global co-operation by governments and the active support and encouragement of citizens, schools and universities around the world. Will we take this opportunity to transform society and underpin security for all? Or will we be satisfied with gesture politics, setting goals we have no intention of meeting?
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Photo Library

Photo: Children on their way to a dime-a-day school in City Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

End all poverty by 2030 is an astonishingly ambitious goal for governments to have set themselves. If they do provide education and healthcare as well as develop active labour market programmes they will find energetic, resourceful, determined partners among the poor, keen to prove SDG sceptics wrong.

No Poverty

Globally, more than 700 million people – the equivalent of the population of Europe – live in extreme poverty If you want to get an idea of what extreme poverty is like, get rid of the toilet, the boiler, the water pipes and the lights from your house. Pull out half your teeth. You can’t afford a doctor if you get sick, or contraceptives, or schooling for your children. Cancel all time off, forever – because you and your kids will work all day, every day.
Poverty is disastrous for people and for the planet. Aside from inflicting severe hardship on individuals, poverty prevents people from taking part in solutions – including meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Even in wealthier nations there are pockets of degrading poverty, especially where the gap between rich and poor is growing. Governments cannot “solve” poverty, but they can set up conditions that allow people to pull themselves out of penury. They can give access to credit and education for all, for example, and enforce fair laws justly. They can streamline bureaucracy and create effective safety nets for the poorest. Richer countries can enable poorer ones in this effort by keeping their promises to establish a global regime that helps countries trade out of poverty; to increase aid; and to help them adapt to climate change. The planet is too small and interconnected for the rich to be comfortable and secure, while billions suffer poverty.

Photo: Migrant Mother

A mother trying to take her family to California. In the 1930s, Dust Bowl conditions blew away topsoil across the USA’s prairie states, putting tens of thousands of migrants on the roads. Environmental degradation, water scarcity, poverty, hunger – all the goals are related and need to be tackled together.

Zero Hunger

World hunger has been falling over the past few decades. But while obesity increases, some 793 million people remain hungry and undernourished – a similar figure to the number of extremely poor, showing how the Sustainable Development Goals are interrelated Hunger hurts. It tears at your innards. “Hunger allows no choice,” wrote WH Auden. Malnutrition in a child’s early years leads to stunting, which can cripple the body and mind for life. Almost a quarter of the planet’s children are stunted. Populations continue to grow rapidly and crop production is not keeping up. Zero hunger by 2030 is a huge challenge.
Populations continue to grow rapidly and crop production is not keeping up. Zero hunger by 2030 is a huge challenge. Part of Goal 2 is to end all forms of malnutrition, so all nations must develop ways to prevent increases in the malnutrition that is obesity. Some two billion adults are overweight or obese, and 41 million children are overweight, according to the 2017 Global Nutrition Report, which adds that 88 per cent of countries face a serious burden of either two or three forms of malnutrition. Genome editing of food crops may improve yields. Do we want to use it? Governments need to put more effort into agricultural research and abolish the perverse subsidies that help the world’s richest farmers better compete against the poorest in Africa and Asia. All farmers need access to credit, markets and crop insurance. And we need to stop wasting food. About a third of all food produced on Earth, worth around $1 trillion, is wasted in food production and consumption systems.

Photo: Volunteer health worker weighing a baby, Mexico City

This is an example of how people all around the world are transforming their communities. These leaders demonstrate what needs to be done, but governments must take these local projects to scale. Goal 3 calls for universal health care so that everyone can live well – surely a basic human right in the 21st century.

Good health and well-being

HIV and tuberculosis infection figures are in decline, but deaths due to non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes are rising More than 36 million people are living with HIV because new medicines increase survival rates.
And people continue to kill themselves with tobacco and alcohol. In 2012, 3.3 million deaths were blamed on alcohol, with Europe and Central Asia having the highest consumption. The fact that suicide accounts for more than 8 per cent of deaths worldwide shows that mental health is as important as physical. In 2015, 303,000 mothers died of complications from pregnancy or childbirth. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, where such death rates are twice as high as the global rate, and in South Asia, only half of births are attended by skilled health personnel. Universal health care, a target under this goal, would prevent people from falling into poverty due to illness and give them the opportunity to lead healthier and more productive lives. But financing health care in many poor and middle-income countries is dominated by high out-of-pocket expenses, as patients pay at point of care rather than through taxes or insurance. This keeps people from getting the care they need.
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Photo Library

Photo: Reading class at Rishi Valley Rural School, India

Founded by J Krishnamurti in 1926, the school has become the hub of an expanding network of satellite schools for surrounding villages. Each school is in a green public space with facilities to serve the whole community. More than 200,000 government schools in India have adopted this concept, showing how an idea realised in one small village can take off once officials get inspired.

Quality Education

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” HG Wells Less than half of children in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary education, compared with just 75 per cent globally. Not getting an education in the 21st century usually amounts to being sentenced to poverty. More young people are completing lower secondary education – in many countries, city-dwelling kids are almost three times more likely than children from the countryside to complete nine years of schooling.
Yet, in 2014, 61 million primary-aged children remained out of school and, as children in poorer countries get older, they’re less likely to enrol. Investment in education is known to give the best possible return in terms of national wealth creation – and personal wealth creation for the beneficiaries. But children do not vote. So, few governments invest enough, even though educational tools – computers, the internet, online courses – are becoming ever more available and sophisticated. And when economies suffer, educational budgets are cut. Everywhere. In many countries, there is not enough data to know how many children are being educated, or how well this is happening. Goal 4 also calls for education for sustainable development, which UNESCO is encouraging through a global programme.
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Photo Library

Photo: Women at a village meeting, India

In much of the rural majority world, women do most of the work, while men make most of the decisions. Yet, today, these women are taking greater control of their lives and livelihoods. Sustainable progress cannot be achieved without effective participation in decision-making by men and women. How can citizens and their governments accelerate the transition to gender equality?

Gender Equality

Some 150 countries have at least one law that treats women and men differently; 63 nations have five or more such laws Violence against women exists everywhere, but in 49 countries domestic violence isn’t even against the law; in 45, no laws exist to manage sexual harassment and 112 countries do not criminalise marital rape.
Early marriages can rob women (and girls) of access to education and job opportunities. Goal 5 wants to eliminate this practice. It also wants to recognise the value of women’s unpaid work and to see full participation by women in all levels of government. In 2016, women occupied on average, globally, only 23 per cent of parliamentary seats – up from 12 per cent in 1997. The gender gap in employment, political influence and resources isolates and disempowers women. In poor countries, relatively simple interventions such as improving internet access for women can make big differences and enable them to participate in networks, education and job searches. Countries that keep women largely out of the process of economic development have trouble developing economically.

Photo: Children catch rainwater, Lesotho

There is enough fresh water on the planet to achieve Goal 6, so failure has no excuses. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply and sanitation. We know how to install toilets and take water to every community. Will governments deliver this vitally important goal?

Clean water and sanitation

Water is full of paradoxes – it’s the stuff of life, yet because it’s cheap (free, even), it’s often wasted. It’s abundant and yet supplies are becoming more scarce: the global average amount of water available per head has halved over the past 50 years Today, a billion people cannot get enough safe drinking water. By 2050, 45 per cent of humankind will live in countries chronically short of water. Water is valuable – but wasted and polluted. Dirty water spreads disease: bad water and poor sanitation kill 5,000 children a day. Climate change is moving the available fresh water to different places, and new water systems must be built.
The biggest industrial use of water is for cooling thermal power stations, and carbon capture and storage systems would require vast amounts of water – two more reasons to move from carbon energy to renewable energy. Two-thirds of all the water taken from nature is used to grow crops. This dries the landscape, empties wetlands and destroys fisheries. There are myriad solutions, both big and small. Sanitation systems that use little or no water are available. Drip irrigation, rather than flooding fields, can cut water use by 60 per cent or more (some Indian farmers make their own drip systems from plastic ice lolly wrappers.) Once farmers learn how to measure and evaluate their water use, they tend to use less of it. And effective water pricing can help people and businesses understand its value. Our planet probably has no more and no less water than it has ever had, but many more people use much more of it.
© Hartmut Schwarzbach/Argus Fotoagentur GbR

Photo: Cleaning solar panels in the village of Waat, South Sudan

Sustainable energy transforms lives, economies and the planet. The transition to renewable energy is central to nearly every challenge and opportunity the world faces today. The hurdles to meeting Goal 7 are not so much technological as economic, legal and regulatory. Here is a chance for economists and legislators to show us how they can collaborate to develop the legal framework to meet this goal.

Affordable and clean energy

Nearly 1.1 billion people did not have access to electricity in 2014, and more than 3 billion lacked clean fuel and improved cooking stoves Electricity brings opportunities for small businesses and the chance to earn an income. It means homework gets done and gives access to the outside world and everything that it offers.
Supply is outstripping demand almost everywhere except in sub-Saharan Africa, where 154 million more people lacked electricity in 2014 than they did in 1991. Solar power is spreading in rural areas, but it still relies on systems that are inexpensive and not all that effective. Still, given the vast distances of Africa and Asia, the best hope may be for a “leapfrog” from kerosene to renewables, skipping the big wire grids. Clean cooking fuels and improved stoves are so much healthier and environmentally friendly than their alternatives. Yet, in 2014, almost one in four people around the world had no access to such fuels or technologies. In Europe, there is talk of an integrated grid involving North Africa with 100 per cent of electricity coming from renewables by 2050. The hurdles are not so much technological as economic, legal and regulatory.

Photo: Polluting cooking stove, Bangladesh

Exposure to smoke from traditional cooking stoves and open fires – the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly 3 billion people – causes more than 4 million premature deaths annually, including 122,000 deaths in Bangladesh. The use of cleaner and more efficient cooking stoves and fuels can also help reduce forest destruction and slow down climate change. No excuse for missing this goal.

Decent work and economic growth

Some 60 per cent of people aged 15-24 worldwide are jobless Goal 8 is complex. It involves decoupling economic growth from environmental destruction; getting people, especially young people, into jobs; increasing the economic growth of the poorest countries; and increasing access to banks and other financial services. How will the world’s governments and bankers meet this challenge?
We need a new form of economic science, one based not on the rule of markets, which are nothing more than human creations, but on the real value of a benign climate, a climate that gives us clean water, ample topsoil and thriving ecosystems – that supports life on earth. Models are available for a “new economics” that advances the financial system’s effectiveness in mobilising capital towards a greener, more inclusive economy. National governments have been slow to back it up. In about 80 per cent of poor countries, economic growth is coupled to environmental destruction, particularly in the form of health risks due to air pollution and unsafe water and sanitation.
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Photo Library

Photo: Workshop, Bolivia

Small companies such as this workshop in Bolivia drive growth and collectively provide jobs for a large sector of the population in poorer countries. Investments in transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology are crucial to achieving sustainable development.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

The value that industry adds to national economies has been in decline worldwide for more than two decades Manufacturing output has been declining in much of the world as the service sector gains. But there is a great need for industry, and the jobs it provides, in the developing world.
As people move to cities, connecting the urban population with the people left in the countryside growing food becomes ever more crucial. Yet investment in infrastructure – roads, bridges, communications systems – isn’t keeping up with need in much of the world, rich and poor. Another target is to produce more with less – fewer resources and less pollution. Cutting pollution usually saves money, because pollution is a waste of the materials used in manufacturing. Creating new revenue streams while serving the needs of the poor can be profitable business. Companies are learning this. Small companies are an engine of growth in poorer countries. More than 90 per cent of enterprises in developing countries are small businesses and provide jobs for millions of people. But they need reasonable laws, access to credit and judicial systems that work quickly and smoothly. Innovation requires prices that reflect real costs – the cost of harmful emissions, say, in the price of fossil fuels.

Photos: Two averagely well-off families with all their possessions in front of their houses: The Namgay in Bhutan and the Skeen family, USA.

Inequality between countries is vividly demonstrated in these two photographs. Imagine a third picture, in which the amount of possessions is “just right”. Would there be a car, two cars, or only bicycles? One computer per person? One TV per person? How must both appetites and technologies change so that 9 billion people can live within the means of our small planet?

Reduced Inequalities

The incomes of the poorest 40 per cent are falling behind national average incomes in some of the richest countries Sustainable development cannot happen without human rights, the most important being broad participation in all levels of decision-making. Such development also requires that individuals and the organisations they form have the right to be consulted in decision-making, the right to the information required to make good decisions and the right to legal remedies and redress.
These are the human rights that form the basis of sustainable human and planetary development. The establishment and fierce protection of such rights would go a long way toward meeting some of the targets of Goal 10. These include sustained income growth for the poorest 40 per cent of each nation, reduced migration costs and lower money transfer fees, given how important these remittances are to the poorest countries and families. The goals call for reforms in “foreign aid”: less for institutions and more toward those in greatest need such as refugees and victims of humanitarian crises.
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Photo Library

Photo: Environmental refugees from the countryside living on the outskirts of Mexico City

Two billion people are currently moving from rural to urban living. Can city governments work with families to make the best of self-organised development, and to rapidly improve the worst conditions, as a stepping stone to creating stable, secure cities? Goals involving rural development, healthcare, safe homes and resilient communities are interlinked and must be tackled together.

Sustainable cities and communities

The number of people living in cities is growing by two per cent a year globally, and urban areas are having a hard time keeping up in terms of infrastructure, amenities and participatory governance Cities can be a powerful force for sustainable progress, benefiting from economies of scale and planning.
City governments must work with the dwellers of such neighbourhoods to make the best of self-organised development and to rapidly improve the worst. They will need to manage the air pollution and waste that make many rapidly growing cities unhealthy and life-threatening. Another urgent task is to agree on what constitutes a city. Different countries and organisations have different numerical limits, so there is no agreed international definition as to what urban means. But many cities are growing too fast to be officially planned, and migrants are doing their own planning, with limited means, moving into cramped and flimsy housing in slums and shanty-towns. These offer neither secure legal tenure nor safe access to water and sanitation. More than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s urban dwellers live in slums, and in some countries that percentage is increasing.

Photo: 7 Days of Garbage

Most of us feel guilty about the amount of rubbish we create. After learning that the average American produces about 2kg of garbage a day (double the amount generated in 1960) Gregg Segal set out to create a project that shows what seven days of garbage looks like for different people. What would your footprint look like? How can we all reduce our waste?

Responsible consumption and production

Over the past 50 years, humans have consumed more resources – stuff – than in all previous human history This cannot go on. Economics based on constant growth will destroy a planet of finite resources.
More than three-quarters of the world’s people live in nations where national consumption has outstripped their countries’ biological capacity. However, governments fail to measure depletion of natural resources and pollution damage. So, many countries are undercutting the productive base of their economies. This is not only unsustainable, it will in due course make even unsustainable economic growth impossible. Goal 12 calls for a drastic reduction in food waste, more recycling and reuse, and for big companies to operate more sustainably. In 2016, around 50 countries had regulations and policies to encourage or require companies to report on their sustainability practices. Only 50. We need to invent a world in which all energy is renewable; all gadgets are designed to generate their own energy, and all products are designed to last longer and be easily recycled at the end of their useful lives. A world where our natural desire for novelty and the enjoyment of stuff is met in ways that are compatible with a world of 9 billion people and rising. Imagine a world where we design out waste and design in a secure future.

Photo: Austfonna ice cap, Svalbard archipelago, Norway

Monitoring such climate-related phenomena as the rapid thinning of a remote Arctic ice cap on Norway’s Nordaustlandet island is crucial now and will be even more so in decades to come.

Climate Action

Current rates of climate change and its predicted acceleration can wipe out any progress in the other 16 goals. It could erode development gains and force 100 million people into poverty by 2030. We do not have to limit the energy we use, but we must change how that energy is produced. When the climate debate began in earnest in the 1980s, the carbon economy was the only game on the planet. Renewables were boutique, expensive novelties.
That has changed radically. Solar and wind power make economic sense. The carbon economy is dying of its own accord, but far too slowly. We aren’t meeting agreed greenhouse gas emissions targets. Human-caused climate change alters water availability, degrades ecosystems, destroys biodiversity and acidifies oceans. The disasters it partners fill our newspapers and TV screens. It could cut unirrigated farm yields by half in many African countries by 2020 – a vast human disaster an historic eyeblink away. There is no single “solution” – there are thousands. These range from small, individual acts to big governmental policy changes. Radical new forms of global governance and co-operation to new and renewable energy systems. Cap-and-trade systems to establish a high price for carbon; new technology standards; new technology – we’ll need them all. A shift in our mindset must drive these and other changes to the way we live, everywhere in the world.
© Tom Campbell/SOSF

Photo: A great white shark, unintentionally caught in a deepwater driftnet, Santa Barbara, USA

In some fisheries, the percentage of bycatch far outweighs the amount of target catch. Much more needs to be done in collaboration with the fishing industry to identify the most practical solutions to bycatch. And the plastic! Greenpeace estimates that 12.7 million tonnes of plastic – from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads – ends up in our oceans each year. Public support for action on this is driving new approaches, a reminder that overnments will act when we citizens send a strong message to them.

Life below water

Almost 90 per cent of global marine fish stocks are either being fished to their maximum or are overfished Wild fisheries are badly regulated, and the laws that do cover them are badly enforced. Yet governments cannot stop themselves from continuing to subsidise their fishing fleets. Fish farms – which provide about half the global seafood supply – are growing, but they need healthy oceans that are neither overly polluted nor acidic.
Land-based farming is restricted by the limited freshwater supplies on the planet. More food must come from – be grown in – the oceans. Yet some two-thirds of the world’s oceans showed signs of increased human impacts between 2008 and 2013. An astonishing 98 per cent of the global ocean is affected by multiple threats such as higher-than-normal sea-surface temperatures, acidification and high ultraviolet radiation. Solutions are straightforward – control pollution and fishing – but complex: we need better data, so we know what is happening in our seas; better enforcement of existing rules and treaties; and new regulations and treaties.

Photo: Clear-cut logging, Washington State, USA

It is impossible to put a monetary value on the ability of forests and oceans to lock up carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere. But when scientists try, they come up with figures far larger than global economies. This truth ought to help us figure ecosystem services into our financial and economic planning, budgeting far more for investments in conservation, investments that will begin to pay off immediately and will be ever more important to future generations.

Life on land

Forests have vanished at an average annual rate of more than 50,000 square kilometres over the past 25 years – an area bigger than Switzerland every 12 months Much of Goal 15 is about protecting forests, which cover about one-third of all land worldwide. They absorb carbon, release oxygen, harbour biodiversity and provide homes and livelihoods for some 300-350 million people. Forests and trees help mitigate climate change, improve soil fertility, conserve soil moisture and boost food production.
We are cutting them down. Yet deforested and otherwise degraded land can be returned to sustainable productivity and even to being protected reserves and wildlife corridors. Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. But erosion is not the only issue. Soil can become too salty to grow crops, often due to over-irrigation. Tractors compact it. Nutrients leak out of over-cropped soil. Pesticides may kill the “good critters” in the soil that aerate it and keep it porous so that rainwater can get to roots. Erosion can also increase pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing a decline in fish and other species. Degraded lands usually hold onto less water, which can worsen flooding. Using land sustainably can help to reduce the impacts of farming and herding, preventing soil degradation and erosion and the loss of valuable land to desertification.
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Photo Library

Photo: Illegally logged hardwood, Nigeria

None of the value in this timber goes to the villagers who live in the forests. This is one small example of the estimated US $1.26 trillion lost to corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion for developing countries per year. The mass movement against corruption in India shows how effective citizens can be in bringing about change. Can this movement spread around the world and help deliver just, transparent and accountable governance?

Peace, justice and strong institutions

Bribery and corruption are everywhere, but they are a lot more common in poor countries Goal 16 is about combating bribery, minimising violent deaths, effectively budgeting for development and bringing people into legal governance systems. In many African nations, less than 10 per cent of rural births are registered, a lapse which makes gathering other accurate statistics impossible.
Realities are global, but political systems for managing them are national. National governments are ineffective at connecting with their poorer citizens, who tend to be the real sustainable development decision-makers, weighing up whether to cut down that tree, whether to pay that bribe. Can voters be educated to care about sustainability issues, so they can encourage their governments to care? Some of the most original thinking about humanity’s future comes from the philosophers. They point out that any action on, say, climate change must be rooted not in science, economics or politics, but in ethics. The generation running governments and companies today would not benefit from a switch to sustainability. They would pay, and future generations would benefit. Are human beings an advanced enough species to create Goal 16’s “peace, justice and strong institutions” that sustainable development requires, even though it is a multi-generational task?

Photo: Abandoned bulldozer, Burkina Faso

The rural tropics are littered with broken-down tractors and other bits of machinery no local mechanic can maintain or repair. Aid-giving countries have tended to give what their companies make rather than what recipients need. Governments have not always been good at delivering aid; they are worse at creating a global trading system that would help poor countries develop. Will voters in aid-giving countries support new partnerships for development that would save money and make the world much more sustainable?

Partnership for global development

Only six of the 30 aid-giving countries exceeded the agreed overseas development assistance target in 2015 This final goal is about increasing international aid flows, managing refugee crises, increasing direct foreign investment into poorer countries, financing infrastructure through public-private partnerships and even increasing access to the internet, now used by some 44 per cent of the global population.
Increased use of information technologies in the poorer countries will improve the abilities of people in these nations to use the best of science, innovation and technology for sustainable development. But it does not deal with the need for radical new partnerships – uncommon collaborations of governments, companies, UN agencies, foundations and non-governmental organisations to manage the grand challenges the planet faces. New forms of communications and new ways of thinking make such partnerships feasible and cost-effective.

What will you do?

The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, which put sustainability on the international policy map, featured a Global Children’s Hearing in which young people made “naïve” demands on their elders and betters, such as end poverty and protect the environment. One Canadian 12-year-old actually spoke in plenary to the delegates, demanding that governments clean up their act. She concluded: “My dad always says, ‘You are what you do, not what you say.’ Well, what you do makes me cry at night.” Now, the governments have listened to the children and set the very goals they demanded way back then. And those children are now middle-aged, the age of many of the adults they then lectured. What are they going to do? What are we all going to do to help the governments meet their goals? As Bob Dylan asked, “What’ll you do now…?”
Let us all find our own ways to walk lightly on the planet while leaping firmly into politics. Cook some delightful meat-free meals, ride a bike, plant trees, join an environmental group and make new friends. Have fun nurturing the planet. Then you and your friends can throw your energy and ideas into the various political systems around you: local, national and international. You have started a movement that will ripple through your world. Governments have done the right thing in signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals. Let’s support them, encourage them and criticise any faltering, making our voices heard in new ways that rise above the daily din of politics and finance. All the gear, technology and science needed to realise the Sustainable Development Goals are sitting there waiting. Let’s change our minds and get it done.


We are most grateful to UNESCO for awarding Hard Rain Project (HRP) the 2017 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and for launching our A Citizen’s Guide to the Goals. We would like to thank the UNESCO Education Sector in Paris as well as Matthew Rabagliati, Communications and Research Manager, and Andrea Blick, Accreditation Manager, UK National Commission for UNESCO, London for helping us to complete this exhibition. Dag Jonzon and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency are owed a special debt of gratitude for supporting the pilot of HRP’s exhibition WHOLE EARTH? upon which A Citizen’s Guide to the Goals is based. Huge thanks to Jamie Agombar, Head of Sustainability at the UK’s National Union of Students and his uniquely creative team for their support for our work. NUS is a confederation of 600 students’ unions, collectively representing seven million students in the UK. They have played a key role in moving sustainable development up the agenda at universities in the UK. Special thanks to Jonathon Porritt, Tim Smit, Professor Stephen Sterling and Joan Walley for help in a thousand ways.
Additional photography We are deeply grateful to be able to include outstanding photographs by the following artists. In order of appearance: David Woodfall, Dorothea Lange, Chris Steele-Perkins, Hartmut Schwarzbach, KM Asad, Peter Menzel, Gregg Segal, Michael S Nolan, Tom Campbell and Daniel Dancer. To see more of their work, visit the following websites: The statistics in WHOLE EARTH? exhibition are from: World Bank. 2017. Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017: World Development Indicators. Washington, DC: World Bank. Views and opinions expressed in WHOLE EARTH? are the sole responsibility of the authors and are not endorsed by The World Bank. The text in WHOLE EARTH? exhibition is copyright of the Hard Rain Project. We are lucky to work with Mike Kenny on the design of this, and all our projects. His ability to creatively unite words and pictures is unique. Hard Rain Project Hard Rain Project is the creation of documentary photographer Mark Edwards. Together with writer and environmental adviser Lloyd Timberlake in the US and environmental film-maker Dag Jonzon in Sweden, we work with world-renowned artists and scientists to bring alive the issues around sustainable development for students and public audiences. The project got its name from our first exhibition Hard Rain – a collaboration between Bob Dylan and Mark Edwards based on Dylan’s poetic masterpiece “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. Each line of the song is illustrated with a photograph depicting the challenges we face in the 21st century, from social injustice to our headlong collision with nature. Hard Rain and the accompanying book and film launched at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England in 2006. Since then, some 15 million people across every continent in the world have viewed it. WHOLE EARTH? followed in 2015 and has been shown at nearly 100 universities and colleges around the world. This updated version focuses attention on the Sustainable Development Goals. Email comments to: [email protected] To see Mark’s archive go to Design: Bailey and Kenny