UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals reading list

Posted by Becca Parkinson - Thursday, 4 Aug 2022


As part of Manchester University Press’ commitment to UNESCO’s 17 goals for sustainable development, we have put together the following reading list containing our books which fit into the aim of the goals, but also that we believe will help our readers find out more about pressing societal issues such as climate change, gender equality and reduced inequalities.  

At the heart of UNESCO’s sustainability goals is the importance of education and how with something so fundamental we can take on the aims of eradicating poverty and building peace for all, together.

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836 million people, worldwide, still live in extreme poverty. These books explore the root causes within the history of poverty, and challenge or support current methods of eradicating it.

Expecting to hit 2 billion by 2050, 795 million of the current global population are undernourished, the vast majority in developing countries such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These books explore both historical events such as the Irish Potato Famine and contemporary systems of food-aid.

Following the initial global effort against COVID-19, UNESCO’s third sustainable development goal prioritises good health and well-being, meaning a combination of happiness, prosperity and protection from sickness. These books emphasise the importance of worldwide mental and physical health. 

Surrounding the problem of education inequality are fundamental aims to improve the provision of school infrastructure, gender parity, the quality of teaching and sufficient resources. These books address UNESCO’s fourth sustainability goal in relation to globalisation, race, class and inequality and proposes solutions to improve the quality of worldwide education.

Around the world, women and girls are disproportionately represented in the majority of political, social and public spheres. These books tackle traditions and beliefs that continue to damage and diminish the importance of the physical, mental and sexual health of women and girls.

Impacting 40% of the world’s population, lack of access to clean and safe drinking water is an ongoing and life-threatening issue hindered by pollution and climate change. Raising awareness for this global problem, these books emphasises the importance of sustainable access to water and sanitation.

With 1 in 5 people around the world still lacking access to modern electricity and 3 billion relying on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for heating, energy education hopes to teach us about newer methods of preventing waste developing cleaner energy resources. These books discuss how different countries are tackling this issue and how self-sufficiency is becoming an increasingly more accessible way of becoming a greener world.

Decent work is defined as jobs allowing its employees to work in safe and clean conditions while being paid fairly and provided with social and economic protection. These books explore how our economies work and their consequences for future generations.

These books draw attention to the disparity between developing and high-income countries when it comes to industry, innovation and infrastructure, and the range of problems and approaches that are facing both the agricultural and industrial economies today.

Exploring concepts of health, economic and social securities, these books map out the intersectional nature of civil inequalities around the world and challenge the hierarchical nature that we live by.

It is predicted that by 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will be inhabiting urban spaces. Given this rapid expansion, these books explore the challenges that will inevitably come along with this, such as waste management, air quality and further threats to climate change.

Starting at a basic level of learning how to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover, sustainability education is crucial for the world’s population to become more responsible and ethical consumers. These books on topics from liberal consumerism to the ecological crisis will help you explore ways of challenging this ongoing crisis.

Since the industrial revolution, our global temperature has risen at an extremely worrying and unprecedented rate. Exploring the climate crisis, these books consider differences in national strategies and propose cleaner, more effective methods of combating this global threat.

The process of sustainable exploitation has been proposed as a way of meeting current needs of the human population without threatening our waters for future generations. These books explore the relationship between labour at sea and capitalism on land to propose ways of achieving this UNESCO sustainability goal. 

Coming at an annual cost of $1.26 trillion, corruption, theft and tax evasion are seen as the biggest threats to global peace and justice. These titles explore international relations and diplomacy.

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