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3 April 2020
Kyrstie Brown

Captured in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a vision of a just and sustainable future, free from poverty, violence and inequality. A future that can only be achieved through transformative action in the hearts and minds of citizens, and in the systems and processes of nations around the world.

How can we meet these ambitious targets? At Bridge 47, the answer has always been in education. Education is at the heart of facilitating change, but a sustainable and just world can only be achieved through a vision of life-long and life-wide education that captures hearts and minds.

This was the key message behind the joint lunchtime InfoPoint conference on ‘Changing Hearts and Minds – Why Informed Citizens are Key to Achieving the SDGs’, which took place in Brussels on the 18th February. Co-hosted by Bridge 47 and the EU’s Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) Programme, the event showcased the Envision 4.7 Roadmap - a collaborative policy guideline for the future implementation of SDG Target 4.7 in Europe – to generate traction and discussion around its 17 recommendations.

Agata Sobiech, DEAR’s Head of Section, opened the session with an introduction to the DEAR programme and the range of projects the programme supports, followed by talks from Albin Keuc, Director of SLOGA, and Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform, who were both present at the Envision 4.7 event where the Roadmap was created.

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1. Transformative Education is Essential to Achieving the SDGs

Drawing from his personal experience in education as the director of Slovenia’s Global Action Platform (SLOGA) and as a member of the Bridge 47 Steering Group, Albin Keuc spoke on the importance of transformative education, which he identified as a lifelong learning process that promotes the change and necessary development of individuals, communities and systems.

Education in all its forms is a capacity building process; helping learners understand how the world and its citizens are connected, equipping them with the tools to critically examine the world around them, and empowering them to act as agents of change. As such, it is important to recognise the value in all forms of education, including formal, non-formal and informal ways of learning, and supporting these as lifelong learning processes.

Transformative learning in all its forms creates active, engaged and informed citizens, which are essential to achieving the SDGs.

2. The Need for a Pan-European Strategy for Target 4.7

Actions needed to achieve Target 4.7 are fundamental to achieving the SDGs, by assisting people, communities, and state and non-state entities to fully assume their responsibilities as actors in a single interdependent world.

Brikena Xhomaqi, the Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform and a member of the drafting group for the Envision 4.7 Roadmap, highlighted the importance of the Roadmap’s main recommendation: “a pan-European overarching strategy for Target 4.7 needs to be developed at the latest by 2021. In order to guide this European strategy, a multi-stakeholder group with relevant expertise needs to be established.”

3. The Importance of Networking and Collaboration Across Sectors

As the first in a series of sessions on DEAR funded projects, ‘Changing Hearts and Minds’ demonstrated the importance of networking and collaboration for achieving the SDGs at all levels and across sectors. Ambitious goals call for ambitious approaches, and require all stakeholders - policy makers, civil society, private sector and academia, among others - to leave behind a business as usual mindset.

The road to a fairer and more sustainable world will be fraught with vulnerability and uncertainty. However, without bringing citizens on board, and without generating active citizenship for SDGs through transformative education, we will not succeed.

A video of the conference is available here: https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/events/changing-hearts-…

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