Thursday, 12 November, 2020 - 13:24

Missing dimensions in UNESCOs monitoring framework 2020: A call for action! 

Why do guidelines for measuring SDG target 4.7 leave out issues of interdependence, poverty and economic inequality? A guest blog by Judith Klein, PhD-Candidate/Researcher on SDG 4.7, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.


UNESCO has recently sent out a framework for monitoring member states' implementation of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (measuring SDG indicators 4.7.1, 12.8.1 and 13.3.1.). This framework is based on the 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace, and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. 

We are several networks, consisting of researchers, NGOs/civil society organisations, practitioners and policymakers now concerned that UNESCOs way of defining core concepts within this 1974 framework may result in a narrow and outdated discourse. The framework leaves out important dimensions that do not reflect the current conceptual understanding within the fields of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Global Citizenship Education (GCE), Global Education (GE) or Development Education (DE) etc. 

As far as we can see, the economic dimension of ESD, tied to economic inequality and poverty and the core of GCE in regards to interdependence and mutual responsibility for global problems. is missing in the 1974 monitory framework sent to member states. Although the 1974 Recommendation explicitly “aims at promoting just societies” it is confusing that social justice, defined as combating poverty and inequality (key elements of the SDGs), is not reflected in the reporting framework. Further, the framework for monitoring does not appear to draw on existing UNESCO work (e.g., 2014, 2015) where ideas around complexity and interdependence are highlighted. This also creates a gap between the Monitory framework and the overall UNESCO policy documents, such as the “Framework for the implementation of the Education for Sustainable Development  (ESD) beyond 2019” (p. 3):

    "In 2015, the global community launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) addressing issues related to poverty, hunger, health, education, energy, work, industry, inequalities, cities, consumption, climate, ocean life, ecosystems, peace and partnership. Achieving these goals requires a profound transformation in the way we live, think and act; and the role of education in achieving all of the 17 SDGs is given heightened emphasis.”


Furthermore, the framework for monitoring appears not to reflect existing UNESCO understanding of ideas around globalization, complexity and interdependence, such as in the 2015-publication “Global citizenship education: topics and learning objectives” (p. 14):

    “Global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global.”


Building on the Target 4.7 Roadmap (Helsinki 2019), made by Bridge 47, we want to constructively engage with this monitory framework to make sure important dimensions at the core of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, target 4.7 are included:

    “By 2030 ensure all learners acquire 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”.



Based on this, we would like to present the following proposals:

1.    Process

  • We believe the framework in its current form is too rigid. We propose:
    o    Add extra open boxes for further comments by member states to address i.a. the issues raised above.

2.    Framework

  • We believe the categories of ESD/GCE themes listed needs to be expanded. We propose: 
    o    Add a theme number 9: Interdependence and interconnectedness. Definition: Education that promotes a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global and underpins the need for transformative learning.
    o    Renew the existing theme number 7 “Human survival and well-being” to be more inline with key problems by including: Poverty and inequality. Definition: Education that promotes knowledge of poverty and inequality within and between countries and the understanding of structural causes behind poverty and inequality, including negative aspects of economic globalisation and growth. 

3.    Non-formal education's role in implementation of formal education

  • We believe the framework should acknowledge the crucial connection between non-formal education and formal education, including the role of NGOs. Research shows that there is a correlation between countries that do have a strong non-formal education sector working on ESD/GCE and the integration of ESD/GCE in national curricula (indicator 4.7.1b). We propose:
    o    Include reference to the role of NGOs in the definition of Non-formal education and in question G1.

Take action 

One of the main hopes is that pressure can be exerted via social media activity. If you use Twitter could you help to start a twitterstorm with some of the slogans/hashtags below and the linked image? 

  • A call for action! @UNESCO must mind the gap when measuring #SDG47 #EducationForSustainableDevelopment & Globalcitizenship. Add #poverty #economic inequality #interdependence
  • A call for action! @UNESCO must mind the economic gap when measuring #SDG47 #EducationForSustainableDevelopment & Globalcitizenship
  • A call for action! Missing dimensions in @UNESCOs Monitoring Framework 2020. Measuring #SDG47 #EducationForSustainableDevelopment and Globalcitizenship.
  • A call for action! #poverty and #inequality must be added in @UNESCO Monitoring Framework 2020. Measuring #SDG47 #EducationForSustainableDevelopment and #Globalcitizenship
  • A call for action! @UNESCO must add economic dimension when measuring #SDG47 #Education for sustainable Development & #Globalcitizenship. Add #poverty #economic inequality #interdependence

Possible hashtags and handles to add: #SDG47 @Bridge47 @angelnetwork @ioe_derc #EducationForSustainableDevelopment #EducationforGlobalCitizenship #Globalcitizenship @FingoFi @IDEAIreland @VanessaAndreott @RORGsamarbeidet @FNsambandet

If you want to find out more, you can contact Judith, who is responsible for mobilising on this issue, on

ANGEL Network,
Development Education Research Centre (DERC)
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

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