The important role of human capital in the fight against the Sustainable Development Goals

The important role of human capital in the fight against the Sustainable Development Goals


Education (at all levels and in all forms) and lifelong learning is universally accepted to drive economic development, social development and other forms of development.

Development depends on capital (a resource or asset). Therefore, human capital can be broadly defined as a set of resources (for example, knowledge, skills and creativity) that a person possesses and uses to facilitate the development of other forms of capital, such as economic, social and cultural capital.

Also, the usefulness of physical resources (buildings, machines and vehicles) and financial resources (money) depends on how wisely they are used.

Thus, whatever the type of capital, knowledge is fundamental and necessary for the creation of all other forms of capital. Individuals accumulate human capital primarily through learning – formal, non-formal and informal. Without human capital, the productive capacity of individuals is limited.

Thus, universal education and lifelong learning have become the basic building blocks in the development of modern nations. This fact has important implications for how education is structured and delivered and how lifelong learning opportunities are presented to all people.

In this context, higher education institutions are expanding their focus to include the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – also known as the Sustainable Development Goals. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or the 2030 Agenda for short.

The 2030 Agenda, approved in 2015, consists of 17 goals necessary to help achieve a sustainable future for planet Earth. The 2030 Agenda is by far the most ambitious, far-reaching and potentially the most influential agenda in human history to improve the well-being of the planet for present and future generations.

Broad field of higher education

The 2030 Agenda reflects a collaborative commitment to addressing the world’s toughest challenges such as poverty, hunger, conflict and climate change. The 2030 Agenda embodies a rational and comprehensive framework for enhancing the well-being of all people. as well as animals and the environment.

Since man lives in an interdependent relationship with all living and non-living beings on the planet without protecting animals and the environment, humanity will not be able to protect itself.

The 2030 Agenda represents a clear paradigm shift in humanity’s mentality towards the present and future development of the planet and, as a transformative agenda, represents an important reset point in human history. Working towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda not only helps humanity but also improves animal welfare.

To this end, one of the key steps in implementing the 2030 Agenda is to take the broad objectives of the 2030 Agenda and translate them into effective policies and rules that are contextualized to the specific circumstances of each region, nation, city, community and organisation. .

But what is the role of higher education institutions? The broad set of academic disciplines in higher education is well suited to addressing the broad set of goals contained in the 2030 Agenda.

This is one reason why higher education plays an important role in implementing the 2030 Agenda – higher education institutions are not only uniquely positioned to serve as examples of sustainable organizations, but also have intellectual capital (competences, expertise and problem-solving skills). . they needed to know how to best address the goals expressed in the 2030 Agenda through teaching, research and service.

sustainable mindset

For example, at the American University in the Emirates (AUE), the Sustainable Development Goals are integrated at all levels of the institution to help create a sustainable mindset throughout the institution.

AUE focuses on sustainability education for knowledge transfer and building a workforce with the leadership, hard work, perseverance and creativity essential for a sustainable nation.

As Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates, said: “The real asset of any developed nation is its people, especially the educated, and the well-being and success of the people is measured by the standard they have. Education.”

Considering the magnitude of the change that needs to be made in higher education to refocus on sustainable development, major structural reforms are needed to address sustainability in basic education as well.

Part of the sustainability mindset required in education at all levels requires equipping young people with global values ​​such as justice, tolerance, empathy, peace and lifelong learning, all of which play an important role in achieving sustainability at the national level.

Before anything can be learned, it must first be taught in one way or another. Therefore, these values ​​should be instilled in curricula and teaching practices at all levels and modeled by teachers, professors and educational leaders.

Moreover, the role of women is critical to achieving lasting peace, as they represent more than half of the world’s population. Therefore, the national capacity building needed to create a sustainable future will not be possible without the active participation of women.

Investing in human capital

Human capital is the most valuable of all assets. Without it, a nation cannot grow and develop. Therefore, education at all levels becomes the main mechanism for developing human capital. Higher education institutions have a leading role in developing human capital through a more participatory curriculum, teaching, learning, research and community involvement.

The global challenges addressed by the SDGs are complex, interconnected and interdisciplinary. One way to advance these goals is to progressively break down barriers within and between higher education institutions to promote the inclusion of all in society.

Institutions need to strengthen their role as knowledge creators and focus on producing the highest quality education possible. They also have a social responsibility to collaborate with all stakeholders from different sectors of society to develop ways to create a sustainable future for all.

Patrick Blessinger is an assistant professor at St John’s University in the United States and president of the Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL) Association in the USA; Abhilasha Singh is a professor and vice president of academic affairs at Emirates American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Fareeda Khodabocus, director of quality assurance at the University of Mauritius.

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