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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

How well are the links between education and other sustainable development goals covered in UN flagship reports? A contribution to the study of the science-policy interface on education in the UN system

Publication Year: 2015 Publisher: UNDESA


Related Goals


The recognition of interdependencies, trade-offs and synergies among the various goals, and their integration into policy design, is recognized as critical for going forward towards sustainable development. Education is relevant to the work of many UN organizations, even though they address it from different perspectives. Education has a well-recognized role of enabler for many areas under the SDGs, e.g. growth, gender equality, and many others. Conversely, progress in other areas may affect education in many ways.

Some of these links have been studied intensively, especially since the adoption of MDGs in 2000. However, given the extended scope of the SDGs, it is important for policy to reflect links between education and other goals. The science-policy interface has a crucial role to play in this regard. One of the critical roles of the UN system is to provide a platform for science-policy interface at the international level. Through their activities, specialized UN agencies, as well as UNDP and the World Bank provide a conduit for conveying evidence from science to decision-makers.

The question we investigate here is: How well does the UN system as a whole cover (or recognize) the links between education and other SDGs? In order to do this, we extract messages on education in the content of a large sample of flagship reports produced by UN organizations, including the World Bank. We analyze the way in which these publications identify specific causal links among education and other SDG areas; constraints and challenges that they emphasize in relation to these links; and policy recommendations that they put forward.