I have been a bit critical of the bloated nature of the new sustainable development goals, but that should not blind us to the potential that they have for focusing attention on solutions to the world's problems.
In particular, the breadth of the issues covered by the Goals has the power to be useful in education institutions as a means of bringing academics, students and external activists together. I say this because it seems to be that every university in the UK will already have teaching and research that is focused on one or (more likely) more of the SDGs – quite often in partnership with external groups. And the goals are already of interest to student unions in their various activities. Add to this mix the fact that many graduates get jobs that focus on the goals, one way or another, and you see the potential for constructive synergies. They are also reasonably respectable, given their UN sponsorship and the existential crises that drive them.
So, unlike ESD – which has to be patiently explained to bewildered audiences over and over again – the SDGs offer a currency and means of exchange that all can understand and get involved in. They may even have the power to bring those interested in environmental education and global learning to the same table.