The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, sometimes referred to as the Global Goals, or the SDGs for short, provide many wonderful teaching opportunities. This post is in response to a colleague on the NZ Primary Teachers’ Facebook group who asked:

The 17 SDGs are quite overwhelming. We cannot cover them all. Can you suggest a ranked list for the SDGs by importance, relevance, or engagement for our NZ students? (Ours specifically are high academic year 8 students). Or if we were going to pick out 4, which 4 would you suggest?

Here are some suggestions for how you might approach this problem and involve your students in meaningful ways as you explore the SDGs with them – if you have other ideas, we’d love to hear in the comments.

Start with student passions

To do list for the planetStarting with student passions and local needs is one of the most effective ways to teach with and through the SDGs. This will enable you to easily contextualise the issues and your students will be more likely to see them as relevant and pressing (which they are).

Here are some pointers to help get you started:

  1. Which of the SDGs are your students most passionate about, and
  2. Which of the SDGs are most relevant to your students and their community, or…
  3. What they are most interested in and then link this to an SDG…

…what other ideas do you have?

Get students to justify their reasoning by explaining why/etc. If you involve the students in identifying which SDG(s) they feel are most important – for whatever reason – that will lead you to the ones to focus on.

The SDGs are aimed at addressing really big global issues, which some would term ‘wicked problems‘, so let’s help our learners design local actions and solutions that collectively lead to making the world a better place!

Useful websites to start with


unwebquestsOur very own project designed to engage students across NZ and their teachers and communities – check out over 100 resources developed for Kiwi students at

Students can even submit their own learning outcomes to showcase on this site…

Comic - The Planet And The 17 Goals

The Planet & the 17 GoalsThe Planet and the 17 Goals is an amazing comic book for students to use about the 17 goals created by Margreet de Heer.

It includes an online interactive website, a downloadable PDF and a slideshow which is showcased on our site here…

SDG Tracker

The SDG Tracker presents data across all available indicators from the Our World in Data database, using official statistics from the UN and other international organizations. It is the first publication that tracks global progress towards the SDGs and allows people around the world to hold their governments accountable to achieving the agreed goals.

Podcast - The global goals we've made progress on -- and the ones we haven't

TEDtalk SDG progress“We are living in a world that is tantalizingly close to ensuring that no one need die of hunger or malaria or diarrhea,” says economist Michael Green.

To help spur progress, back in 2015 the United Nations drew up a set of 17 goals around important factors like health, education and equality. In this data-packed talk, Green shares his analysis on the steps each country has (or hasn’t) made toward these Sustainable Development Goals — and offers new ideas on what needs to change so we can achieve them.

More resources

These resources are just a sampling of what is available online. Over time we will curate more and keep them in our searchable database in the Resources section on this website.

We would welcome your ideas and suggestions in the comments on this post below…

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