Reviewing progress in education towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Our advocacy work in the UN continues and there are some initiatives and events that we want to inform you about. Thus, although the next High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and therefore the review of  SDG 4 is still some months away, it is important to prepare timely for the review of SDG 4.

As you  all know, the special Goal on Education SDG 4 aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This Goal is part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity”, which comprises of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Reviewing the implementation and progress towards achieving all, and for ICAE specifically SDG 4, its 10 targets and indicators, is significant. There are several important opportunities, activities and occasions coming up in the near future, where ICAE will be active in the preparation, involved in the implementation and personally be present at the events.

This post will give you a short introduction to the major events coming up, while further and in-depth information will follow in the next few months, also introducing you to areas and possibilities to getting involved and becoming active yourself.

Global Education Meeting 2018, 3-5 December 2018 Brussels

The UNESCO Global Education Meeting, on 3 to 5 December 2018 in Brussels/Belgium, reviewed progress towards the universal global education targets and commitments since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. ICAE was present during the discussions and part of the exhibition through a stand.

It brought together global community together to take stock of progress and identify strategic priority areas requiring political guidance and intervention for the effective achievement of the global Education 2030 Agenda. The Global Meeting was convened by UNESCO in its mandated role as lead agency and coordinator of the Education 2030 Agenda, with support of the Government of Belgium.

As such, was an assessment of effective policies and strategies and of key challenges with regard to the implementation of SDG4 as well as of education-related targets within other development goals. The three-day event consisted of a High-Level Technical Meeting (1.5 days) including a Forum of parallel sessions and a Leaders’ Meeting for Ministers, Vice-Ministers and/or heads of delegations (1.5 days). By drawing largely on data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and analyses in the Global Education Monitoring reports, the review explored key questions such as what structures and concrete measures, in term of education sector policy, management, monitoring and financing, have been put in place to ensure implementation of education 2030 targets and commitments. In so doing, it seemed to achieve the following outcomes:

  • An assessment of current progress towards the implementation of SDG4-Education 2030 targets and commitments at global, regional and national levels, and identification of bottlenecks impeding progress
  • An identification of recommendations for strategic areas requiring political guidance and/or intervention for the effective achievement of the global Education 2030 Agenda
  • Agreement on key policy messages to input into the global 2019 HLPF Review and UN General Assembly 2019
  • Strengthening of coordinated support for implementation of SDG4-Education 2030

Secretary General, Katarina Popovic spoke in a session with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) named “Towards Literacy for all – Learning throughout life and through multiple pathways” .  More information on the session can be found here. 

The Brussels Declaration, as the final outcome statement of the Ministerial and the Steering Committee meeting, was adopted on 5 December 2018 setting the course for education for the next four years through 8 priority areas:

1. Making education and training systems more equitable and inclusive “leaving no one behind”
2. Eradicating illiteracy
3. Including migrants, displaced persons and refugees in our education and training systems
4. Providing quality gender-responsive education and training
5. Strengthening education for global citizenship and for sustainable development
6. Providing open, flexible and responsive education and training systems to meet new skill needs
7. Improving teachers, educators, trainers and school leaders
8. Increasing investment in education.


Also available are a best of video, the full agenda and further information about the GEM here.

Regional Education 2030 Consultations
Particularly interesting for you are probably the UNESCO global meetings of the Regional Education 2030 platforms and consultations. You can find further information about the consultation meetings and the outcome statements here:

The Global Education Meeting has furthermore the aim to share outcomes with the appropriate overall global follow-up and review mechanisms for the SDGs and is thereforealigned with the meeting schedule of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development.

HLPF 2019: Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality

ICAE has already been part of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) for three times. This is the main UN platform on Sustainable Development and has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. Under the auspices of ECOSOC, the HLPF examines a set of goals annually, as well as their two-way interlinkages.

The 2019 HLPF review, from 9-18 July in New York, will be devoted to the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. This includes an in-depth review of SDG4 together with the following goals: SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 13 (Climate action) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), paying particular attention to the issue of migration and forced displacement. This will also be the first four-year cycle against which SDG 4 and its interlinkages with other SDGs are reviewed comprehensively during the 2019 United Nations General Assembly Summit.

Voluntary National Reviews

As part of its follow-up and review mechanisms, a central feature and basis of the HLPF are the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) that it receives from Member States on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. Member states are invited to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are voluntary, country-led and country-driven, undertaken by both developed and developing countries. The voluntary national reviews aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In 2019, 51 countries (10 for the second time) have volunteered to present their national voluntary reviews to the HLPF. You can look the list of countries here and see if you country will submit a VNR as well.

Here you can find the 2018 Synthesis Report of the voluntary national reviews (VNRs), summarizing 46 countries VNR reports as presented to the High-Level Political Forum in July 2018.

The HLPF and reviews are state-led, involving ministerial and other relevant high-level participants, however should also involve multiple stakeholders and have the aim to mobilize a multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs.

Multi-Stakeholder Perspectives

Major groups and other relevant stakeholders (MGoS) are the main channel for civil society engagement in the HLPF and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. ICAE is an initiator and Organizing Partner (OP) of the Education and Academia Stakeholder Group (EASG), which is open to all organisations andbrings together human rights-based education and academia organisations and networks to engage with the monitoring and review of the SDGs. The Group is organized also by the Global Campaign for Education,Education International and the European Students’ Union. To get involved with ICAE in the Education and Academia Stakeholder Group (EASG) you can contact us directly, or through the EASG Website:

ICAE advocates at HLPF in the framework of the EASG for the commitment to the universal right to education and learning and how it can support the achievement of other SDGs. ICAE underlines at all these events that the essential role of adult learning and education (ALE), which includes youth and older adults, to the implementation of SDG 4 and across the SDG agenda needs to be amplified and supported. Because education plays a key role in building sustainable, inclusive and resilient societies.

Other SDG News

  • 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report
    UNESCO has launched the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR), called “Migration, displacement and education”. Read more.
  • SDG 4 Data Book
    You can download the Data Book on the Global Education Indicators here.
  • Success stories from SDG Implementation
    The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has launched a call for submissions of good practices, success stories and lessons learned in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Read more

Leave a Reply