What do you know about the SDGs?

And what can you do to help make sure they’re achieved?

By Kimberly Haagenson

September 25th, 2017 marked the 2nd anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals were adopted by 193 governments around the world and address a wide range of issues. Designed to mobilize efforts from now through 2030, each goal will require significant dedication and follow-through over the next 12 years.

Upon adoption, an online mini-series was developed to provide more information about the SDGs and the stakeholders that will contribute to their accomplishment (like technology, business, etc.). Visit this site to enroll in the free, self-paced modules and to watch the mini-series trailer.

Learn more about each goal & specific metrics on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

As the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, we are already deeply invested in working to accomplish these goals — especially Goal 1, “No Poverty” — and we believe that students have the potential to make a significant impact in the effort to accomplish the SDGs.

At first glance, it may seem unlikely that all of these monumental changes can be made within a little over a decade. Though we know that these changes are necessary and crucial to the well-being of our world, they still seem impossible, out-of-reach, and undeniably daunting.

But if we let doubt and disillusionment cloud the lens through which we examine this endeavor, we will surely never get it done.

Instead, we should focus on what each of us can contribute and how we can work together, in order to move these goals forward. Just as in any other undertaking, the SDGs can be broken down into actionable items that individuals can complete. When enough individuals realize the opportunities that are within their reach, the combined efforts create endless possibilities for greater change.

Ready to find ways that you can get involved with the SDGs?

Massive Open Online Course: Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace

Anyone and everyone is invited to enroll in this free online course offered by the United Nations and developed by UN Environment, the Environmental Law Institute, Duke University, the University of California-Irvine, and Columbia University. The course provides an in-depth introduction to the multiple roles that natural resources and the environment play in the onset, escalation, and resolution of, and recovery from, violent conflicts. Many of the considerations and approaches in this course are also relevant to understanding and addressing social conflicts around natural resources and the environment.

Many of the SDGs are related to these topics, such as Goal 11, “Sustainable Cities and Communities” and Goal 16, “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.” But before taking action to address these issues, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the relevant causes, variables, stakeholders, and effects. Therefore, those who are interested in solving these problems and achieving these goals may use this course as a first step towards making a difference.

The 8-week course opens on March 1st, but students may enroll at any time before May 10th. Visit epmooc.org for more information.

Small Change, Better World

Small Change, Better World is another opportunity for action, currently available for UCI students and expected to expand to other campuses in the future. The new initiative provides seed grants for one-time, limited scope projects that address a specific need in the local or global communities. Created and proposed by students, each funded project must require less than $3,000 and be achievable within a short period of time, such as a quarter or semester.

Any of the SDGs may be addressed through this program. Though these projects are small-scale and short-term, the Small Change seed grants are aimed to inspire students to continue taking action to address 21st century challenges in ways that are effective, fair, and appropriate.

To learn more about the initiative, visit this site.


The Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious and far-reaching but they aim to serve as a reminder that we have the power to change our world. There are many opportunities for each of us to learn more and take action, and we hope you will join in!

Kimberly is an education sciences major at UCI. Her interests include humanitarianism, social justice, and -of course- education. Contact her at khaagens@uci.edu.
Like what you read? Give UCI Blum Center a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.