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Student SDG training brings broader benefits to Brazilian communities

Imagine what would happen if every university in the world taught the Sustainable Development Goals. And not only as a noble theory, but also as real-life community-building projects. We would probably create a generation of socially responsible young people who would put us well on our way to achieving the SDGs by 2030!

The University of Fortaleza in northern Brazil is doing just this, and it is already seeing the benefits. Its Leaders Who Transform programme offers post-graduates, no matter their field of study, the opportunity to learn about the SDGs and to design a final project that makes an impact on one of the global challenges that the SDGs aim to overcome.

The student-led projects have led to tangible change in Brazil. One of them, called “Eyes That See with the Heart,” brought 11 blind children to Fortaleza’s stadium for a soccer match, providing them with an audio description of what was happening on the pitch. The post‑graduates also invited representatives from health insurance companies, soccer teams, local government and the stadium administration to join. That experience led to new local regulations requiring that some soccer matches be made more accessible to the visually impaired.

Another project, called “Throwback Technology,” equipped a nursing home in Fortaleza with computers and tech gadgets, and the students trained the elderly residents on how to use them. The students even prepared a virtual reality presentation of what the city looked like in the 1960s, linking these new technologies to the nursing home residents’ valuable past experiences.

The Leaders Who Transform programme recognizes that partnerships are key for scaling up solutions for these big global challenges, so the university has partnered with major organizations like the Clinton Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to give students the chance to present their ideas to a broader audience.

What are the inspiring breakthroughs and success stories that illustrate SDG implementation? What are the good practices that can be replicated and scaled up? What are the gaps and constraints and how should we address them? Looking ahead, what steps should we take to accelerate progress? To help answer these and other questions, UN DESA gathered more than 600 good SDG practices in a searchable online database. Be inspired by SDG solutions that work: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnerships/goodpractices

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