SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 59: The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals & our contribution as a charity

You may have heard us talk about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), read about them on our website, or on social media posts – but what exactly are they and how does School in a Bag fit into them?

About the Sustainable Development Goals:

There are 17 SDGs, which have grown out of many years of work by countries and the United Nations (UN) and ‘adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.’ *

The SDGs came into effect on the 1st January 2016, a ‘universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030’*. Basically, a 15-year target to reach the level of these goals that has been set as being achievable, yet a big step forward from where we are now. Different countries have different focuses on each SDG as some will affect them more than others (i.e. clean water in Great Britain isn’t an issue like it is in many African countries, but our climate action definitely needs work).


Here are the 17 SDGs:
As we’re all different learners, we’ve included the information in different formats: written, infographic and video so by all means skip to the one that works best for you, or take a look at them all:

Sustainable Development Goals

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change


Or watch the UN’s short video here

So now we know a little more about them, how do School in a Bag and the SDGs go together?

Well, through our work, we fit primarily into FOUR of the SDGs:

No. 2 – Zero Hunger
No. 4 – Quality Education
No. 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
No. 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure


Zero hunger:

End hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

In our very first SchoolBag project in Swaziland, the provision of eating utensils was paramount to the children being able to receive lunch – for so many, this was their only meal of the day. Tragically, if children had nothing to eat with, they were turned away from the dinner queue and went without. our SchoolBags have always had lunchboxes in them for this very reason.

In Nepal, the inclusion of a tiffin box in the SchoolBags mean that children can take their lunch to school – prior to this, children would go home at lunchtime and not return for afternoon classes.

The LunchBoxes and sporks provided by Light My Fire in our UK-packed SchoolBags do nine things: knife, fork, spoon, plate, bowl, LunchBox, learning resources – colour, shape and a stencil to trace around!


Quality Education:

Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education. By 2030, build and upgrade education facilities and substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers.

We know that SchoolBags make up a crucial part of the educational jigsaw and without the basic resources our contents provide, learning is minimised to children trying to remember information. Yet, the provision of resources is not included in the targets mapped out bu the UN. Our aim in the delivery decade from 2020 – 2030, is to champion the large agencies into working with is so that we can collectively provide education alongside building schools and training teachers.


Clean water and sanitation:

Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.

Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

The water bottle in our SchoolBags are crucial for children staying hydrated, not only during the school hours but also on the lengthy journeys to and from school, that many of our children undertake.

Prior to receiving our SchoolBags, the children in The Gambia would crouch under the school stand pipe and collect water in their mouths before sitting off on their walk home in high temperatures. This caused litres of spillage, leaving standing water that became a breeding ground for insects and diseases. The children were shown how to fill up their bottles, which created less waste, and gave the children water for the lengthy walk home!

The recent addition of LifeStraws into some of our UK-packed SchoolBags adds to this, too. The clever invention of a simple, easy-to-use ‘straw’ means even the dirtiest water can be sucked up through the membrane micro filter, that cleanses the water before it enters the mouth clean. This opens up clean water everywhere – and the straws themselves, will do its job for 4,000 litres – if our beneficiaries consumed one litre a day, the LifeStraw will last them almost 11 years!


Industry, innovation and infrastructure:

Increase the access to small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets.

By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean environmentally-sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

SchoolBags for some of our projects in Ghana, are made in association with Trashy Bags – an enterprising company that makes bags out of rubbish and recycled materials. The Trashy Bag SchoolBag rucksack is made from recycled water sachets collected from the storm drains by a handful of the TrashyBag employees. The sachets are cleaned, cup open on three sides to form strips, sewn into sheets and transformed into rucksacks by a team of seamstresses. the projects in a win, win, win – Ghanians are employed, the environment becomes cleaner and the children get a fantastic re-purposed SchoolBag…that’s very waterproof!

These are the main four SDGs our work fits into, but we also touch on some others too, including:

No. 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing – through the recent inclusion of our hygiene kits
No. 5 – Gender Equality – we never specify who our SchoolBags are for and they’re never made ‘gender-specific’ as we believe everyone has the right to go to school.

So, these are what the Sustainable Development goals are about, in a nut shell. It’s great that even though we’re only a small organisation, we can have a big impact on key global partnerships that all the UN countries are adhering to. It’s now less than nine years until the goals set need to be met, we’re in the ‘Delivery Decade’, and so far change is happening…We as a team will continue our efforts, and whenever we can make improvements to what we deliver, will do that too.If you would like to read about the SDG agenda in more detail, take a look at this link

Thanks for reading,
Team School in a Bag – Transforming lives through education

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 121,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 47 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website: