Instructional / Course Design,  Sustainability

SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth – Embedding the Sustainable Development Goals in Learning

This blog post is part of a series around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each post will dive into one of the goals and how we as educators can strive to embed these into our own courses. It is in the author’s opinion that any course or class can connect with one of the 17 goals or 169 sub-targets. By providing this blog post series, we hope to elicit some ideas of how you might also integrate a global goal into your teaching. Please refer to the USask SDG Teaching & Learning Workbook, review the USask Sustainability in the Curricula website, or scroll down for more information about the SDGs.

SDG 8 aims to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, as well as full and productive employment and decent work for all. Employment can offer us a way to contribute to the economic prosperity of our families and others. Sometimes people can’t find work or are discriminated against because of their identity or ability. In many impoverished areas, adults and children are exploited or forced to do work in dangerous and underpaid situations to support their families. Targets that will help meeting this goal includes generating creative work that motivates people to fulfill their potential, jobs that ensures natural resources are respected and protected, and that work is safe for people of all abilities and origins.

You might also be able to align your teaching to this SDG if you want your students to be able to:

  • Describe concepts of sustainable economic development, productive employment and decent work.
  • Explore the relationship between employment and economic growth.
  • Articulate and address inequalities between labour force and management, owners and stakeholders can lead to poverty and civil unrest.
  • Justify fair wages, equal pay for equal work and labour rights from their employers and government regulators .
  • Reflect on their individual rights and clarify their needs and values related to work.
  • Develop and evaluate ideas for sustainability-driven innovation and entrepreneurship.

You might consider having your students reflect, share, act in some of these ways:

  • Learn about the cycle of poverty within your own community, province, country and internationally and understand the interconnected relationship of the global market and its workforce. Support an aspect of this by campaigning for equal rights, equal pay, smaller wage gaps and more. The Saskatchewan dashboard has current employment statistics for the province and WorkSafe Saskatchewan highlights statistics about safety in the workplace.
  • Vote with your dollar. Support fair working conditions and workers’ rights by supporting companies whose treatment of their workers is fair and just. A way to do this is buying fair trade products. Look for the label and ask the places that you buy from to support them too. Learn how and where products are made and if they use child labour or exploitative working conditions to source their raw materials.
  • Learn the laws. Protect yourself and your community by learning about your rights as a worker. Share what you know with your community and find out more about labour inequalities in your community. Education is key to ensure safe working environments and decent work.

Some curricular connections and questions for students might be:


How are labour issues reported in the media?

Oppression and genocide

In what ways can people exercise their right to work and fair pay?


How can we improve the impacts on our environment through the jobs we have?

Gender politics

How can we improve gender parity in employment?

Poverty, wealth and power

How does wage and employment relate to the poverty cycle?

Social justice and human rights

What are the rights of workers and how can we spread the word?

How did the labour movement form in Saskatchewan and western Canada?

Indigenous Peoples

What are the labour issues impacting Indigenous people and communities?

Health and biotechnology

How can people working in dangerous occupations improve their working conditions?

Peace and conflict

How can we address civil unrest caused by unfair working conditions and low wages?


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals — also known as the SDGs or the Global Goals —came into effect on January 1, 2016 following an historic United Nations Summit in September 2015. 193 governments from around the world agreed to implement the Goals within their own countries in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

These new, interconnected goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, while also identifying new priority areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among others.

Although each country faces specific challenges in pursuit of sustainable development, special attention is given to the most vulnerable countries, in particular, African countries, less developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states. There are also serious challenges within many middle-income countries.

For each of the 17 goals, there is a list of specific targets we aim to reach. The targets discussed in this guide have been summarized for ease of reading. For a more detailed list of all the 169 targets, visit

This content has been adapted from the original by the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning and the University of Saskatchewan from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation. Users are free to download, copy, print and share this resource as needed, and adapt for their classroom or non-commercial use.

If you adapt or build on this work, please let MCIC or USask know!  

Sustainable Foundations: A Guide for Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals by the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.  To view a copy of this license, visit   

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