Cover image: The Global Goals through a watery lens

The Global Goals through a watery lens

Amber Robinson delivers Water Explorer in the UK, and explains here how the schools programme can support students in engaging with the Global Goals. There are so many environmental and social issues facing us around the world, sometimes it’s hard to see how to engage young people in these issues, without overwhelming them. Water Explorer was created to help students to take action on water issues, and protect our precious fresh water resources. But, just as importantly, it also offers a watery lens through which students can view many other global issues. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are perhaps the most well-known framework for engaging young people in global issues. These 17 goals designed by the United Nations are ambitious and extensive, and whilst this is great, it can make the task of teaching them, and encouraging students to engage with them, seem pretty daunting. Because of this, I think it’s really important to have schools programmes like Water Explorer that offer busy teachers an easily accessible pathway into the Global Goals. Last year, for example, we had a group of students from a school in Scotland that decided to poll their local community to find out which Global Goal they most wanted to tackle. By picking just one Goal, this was a great way to make working towards the Goals seem more manageable, but still left their teacher wondering what exactly they could do to take action. When Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation – came out on top, the teacher turned to the internet for ideas, and found our programme Water Explorer. By the end of the school year, the group had led some really impressive activities at school including a fundraiser for the Oxfam Haiti Hurricane Appeal, a letter writing campaign to stop the use of microbeads in cosmetics, and a series of water saving workshops for younger year groups. We’ve had several stories like this, and know many teachers are looking for ways to engage with the Global Goals. To maximise the impact of Water Explorer, and to help teachers to use it to build a wider understanding of the SDGs, we’ve updated all our activities to show which of the Global Goals they link to. For instance, you might try:
  • The Water We Eat – this teaches students about the surprisingly huge water footprint of some of our favourite foods (one chocolate bar takes 1,700 litres of water to produce!), whilst also introducing them to Goal 3 (Good health and Wellbeing) and Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption)Water Explorer logo
  • Clean That Water Up – this introduces students to issues around water quality, invites them to create their own water filters, and introduces them to Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure)
If you’re interested in using Water Explorer’s free online resources please visit our website to register your school or send us an email at to find out more about how we can support you. Blog by Amber Robinson. Amber delivers Water Explorer in the UK for Global Action Plan. Image caption: Water Explorers taking on the ‘Clean That Water Up’ challenge. Find Water Explorer on the Global Dimension website.