The British Council’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The British Council is a key strategic partner delivering the UK’s international development commitments and thus contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through our work in education, English language, arts and culture. Our work supports peace and prosperity globally, and builds connections and trust with the UK.

Our approach is centred around partnership with governments, civil society, academic and cultural institutions, donors and the private sector, to develop sustainable solutions to development challenges. Our evidence shows that our long-standing presence in over 100 countries has created the networks and contextual understanding that result in more sustainable programme outcomes. It also creates a trusted relationship with partner countries, centred around the sharing of knowledge and experience for mutual benefit. 

We believe that the SDGs are closely linked and some are mutually reinforcing, and therefore we make a contribution to a number of them through our programmes across education, English language, arts and culture. Our direct contribution is, however, to Goals 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16 and 17 and below you will find some examples of our programmes. 

The Missing Pillar – Culture’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

Since 2015, the British Council has been taking stock of its contribution to international development, and in 2020 we launched the publication The Missing Pillar – Culture’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (2020). This report provides the rationale for why arts and culture are important in the development context, identifies ways in which arts and cultural programmes and initiatives can and do contribute to the SDGs, and what the key themes and recommendations are to focus and improve on.

Following a series of Missing Pillar Talks, a second phase of the research was commissioned and The Missing Foundation report was launched in October 2023, exploring culture as the foundation for sustainable development beyond the SDGs and UN Agenda 2030. This report is not only a dynamic follow up to our Missing Pillar report, it brings a cultural perspective to the debates about development. It builds on the 2022 UNESCO Mondiacult conference classified culture as a ‘global public good’, reinforcing culture’s position in the global development discourse that is expected to grow as we approach the end of the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Framework.

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