Instructional Strategies,  Sustainability

SDG 13 Climate Action – 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.

“It’s Grim” is the title of a recent article from the Atlantic summarizing the findings of the Sixth Assessment Report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate change is the biggest threat to our development and well-being, impacting all life on the planet. The poorest and most vulnerable populations face the undue burden of adapting to climate change while dealing with economic impacts. Increases in drought, flooding, and high temperatures have made agriculture one of the most susceptible sectors to climate change. Farmers play an important role in increasing food security, so building resilience is key to ensure they can handle the changes ahead. Due to the global nature of this problem, we need global cooperation to find solutions, adapt to its effects and develop low-carbon pathways to a cleaner future. We need to align our attitudes, behaviours, and activities with sustainable principles to change our climate course. Students need to understand the realities of climate change so that they may better address the needs of the planet and humanity tomorrow. Being what the world needs has never been so critical for our graduates and their future.

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

  • Describe the greenhouse effect as both natural and anthropogenic phenomena caused by insulating layers of greenhouse gases.
  • Articulate the impact of human activities—on a global, national, local and individual level—on climate change.
  • Identify social, environmental, economic, and ethical impacts of climate change.
  • Create strategies for climate change mitigation or climate adaptation.
  • Identify and promote climate-friendly policies and economic activities.

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

  • A number of resources and methods have been collected by Learning For Sustainable Futures (LSF). Targeted toward educators, LSF helps educators engage their students in addressing the increasingly complex economic, social and environmental challenges of today’s world.
  • Explore UNICEF’s Get Real on Climate page for a number of lesson plans and activities addressing climate change and exploring possible solutions.
  • Use Development and Peace’s Climate Balloons activity with a group of 10-30 people. Students will critically analyze the local human causes of climate change while exploring their negative global impacts.
  • Try out some of the climate-focused games and activities on the NASA website or take on the Games for Change Student Challenge, and play or create a climate change game.
  • Track your ecological footprint using Footprint Calculator, understand Country Trends, and discover case studies from Global Footprint Network. These resources allow users to track how natural resources are used and how consumption, populations and more combine to affect our planet.

Some curricular connections and questions for students might be:


How does the media portray climate change?

Oppression and genocide

How is climate change linked to oppression?


What are ways we as citizens can protect the rights of our environment?

Gender politics

How is climate change a gendered issue?

Poverty, wealth and power

How does climate change relate to the poverty cycle?


How does climate change uniquely affect the poor?

Social justice and human rights

How are human rights affected by climate change?

Indigenous Peoples

How are Indigenous communities being impacted by climate change?

Health and biotechnology

What are the biggest impacts of climate change on our health?

Peace and conflict

How does climate change impact war and conflict around the world?


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   

Original document


Comments Off on SDG 13 Climate Action – Embedding the Sustainable Development Goals in Learning