Celebrating UN Day

Since 1948, October 24 has been celebrated as United Nations Day, a chance to focus on global cooperation, peace and now, sustainability. For this anniversary, the UN is focusing on “concrete actions people can take to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious set of 17 goals adopted last year to improve the lives of people around the globe and protect our shared ecosystems.

The UN Charter was adopted in 1945 at the conclusion of World War II. The hope was that the world’s nations would then come together to prevent future atrocities and establish rules to aid international relations. Over the years, a number of specialized UN agencies have been established to oversee international development work (e.g. World Health Organization, World Bank), protect cultural institutions (UNESCO), share data and safeguard human rights.

In this 71st year, the UN is promoting “UN at 71 – 17 Goals.” The SDGs are described as “the world’s to-do list to end poverty, reduce inequalities and tackle climate change.” To engage the general public, the UN has introduced a new app, SDGs in Action, which includes detailed information on each of the 17 goals, explanatory videos, key facts and figures, events and the latest news from around the world. This would be a great engagement tool for the high school social studies or environmental science classroom.

Population Education curricula incorporates a number of UN themes and initiatives into its secondary lesson plans. For ideas, click on the “Curriculum” tab at the top of our site and go to “Find a Lesson.” There you can search for activities and student readings in the “Topic” menu for “United Nations.” You’ll find resources on a range of topics from global oceans and climate change, to world health and girls’ education. All of the activities lead to thoughtful discussion – the first step in students helping to transform our world.