How we support the SDGs

We understand the global importance of the SDGs, the impact our work will make to their delivery, and the wider role that the UK has to play in their implementation.

As the UK’s cultural relations agency, the British Council promote cultural understanding and encourage cooperation by influencing people, policy and practice; building lasting partnerships; promoting mobility and exchange; and building capacity.

Here are some of our projects which are actively supporting the SDGs:

Active Citizens

It’s a ripple effect that leads people to become change agents – and challenge themselves and others to think and behave in a different way." - Jill Mann, Together for Peace, UK Active Citizens Delivery Partner Organisation

Intercultural dialogue is a powerful tool that can increase co-operation, improve decision making and leadership skills, as well as effective and sustainable social action. 

Active Citizens connects thousands of like-minded people around the world who want to make a fairer and more inclusive society.

Our social leadership training programme:

  • promotes intercultural dialogue and community-led social development
  • brings together people with different beliefs and perspectives to learn from each other
  • works with our partners around the globe to train participants in the skills and knowledge needed to affect social change in their communities.

Find out more about Active Citizens. 

Civil Society Support Programme

The Civil Society Support Programme’s guiding principles have put humanity back into development.” - Ethiopian civil society organisation

The global partnership commitment of Goal 17 requires a strong and vibrant civil society, working at local, national and international levels, able to engage with governments and the private sector to mobilise.

Through the Civil Society Support Programme we:

  • work collaboratively with our consortium partners and civil society organisations in Ethiopia to strengthen their contribution to the government’s goal of achieving national development and poverty reduction
  • offer grant-funding and capacity development opportunities to 507 civil society organisations from all regions of Ethiopia, with a particular focus on people affected by social marginalisation, geographic remoteness, under resourcing and neglected development issues.

Find out more about our Civil Society Support Programme.

Connecting Classrooms

Students have come into direct contact with other students outside the country... This has allowed the students to actually experience global citizenship - they are interested in talking and learning about other places, people, cultures and religions.” - School Leader, Nigeria

The new Connecting Classrooms programme was launched in 2015 and will run until 2018. It directly contributes to Goal 4 of the SDGs.

The Connecting Classrooms programme aims to:

  • give thousands of teachers and schools worldwide support to integrate a range of core skills into the curriculum
  • provide professional development for teachers and school leaders
  • support international partnerships between the UK and 30 other countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
  • provide professional dialogue opportunities for policymakers. 

Find out more about the Connecting Classrooms programme.

Global Social Enterprise

The British Council's social entrepreneur training was crucial to our development... When I joined the training, we had no service centres, but now we have nearly 100 service centres and serve 200,000 elderly citizens.” - CEO, Golden Sun, a Chinese social enterprise

We cannot solely rely on traditional philanthropic approaches to address the world’s biggest challenges. Mainstreaming social enterprise and social investment in global economic models and aid delivery is essential if we are to meet the ambitious targets of the SDGs.

Through our Global Social Enterprise programme we:

  • promote the development of social enterprise and social investment to help foster a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future for us all
  • draw upon UK expertise to deliver the programme across 26 countries with local and international partners.

Find out more about Global Social Enterprise.

International Skills Partnerships

Our role is to build upon this foundation and create something that brings long-term benefits not just to the partners, but also to young people, employers and the wider community.” - Sanjeev Ohri, Vice Principal, Dudley College

In the last six years, we have delivered over 70 International Skills Partnerships in more than 30 countries.

  • They enable organisations to share knowledge and experience, and work together to develop new and imaginative approaches.
  • Our partnerships bring together experienced organisations in the UK skills sector and counterparts in other countries to develop and deliver project plans that support national policy priorities.

International skills partnerships are recognised by governments and industry as a powerful and cost-effective way of building the skills required to deliver economic prosperity, social cohesion and individual fulfilment.

We believe that education and lifelong learning have the power to change societies, enable people to flourish, support their communities, and engage with the institutions that affect their lives.

Find out more about our International Skills Partnerships.

Justice for All Programme

Our perception, view and vision have changed. It is no longer about laying blame across institutions in the justice sector, but having a unified objective to ensure speedy delivery of justice.’ - Justice Darius Khobo, High Court Judge and Chairperson of the Kaduna Justice Sector Co-ordination Group in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Civil conflict and the use of violence to redress grievances are major threats to global stability, progress and prosperity.

Improved governance and rule of law is fundamental for stability and global security.

Through the Justice for All Programme we are:

  • working with stakeholders across the whole Nigerian justice sector (both formal and informal)
  • improving the capacity, accountability and responsiveness of key institutions
  • supporting stakeholders in working with civil society as part of a co-ordinated and equitable justice sector. 

Find out more about the Justice for All Programme.

The Newton Fund

I have not only gained in new knowledge, but also established more collaboration with young researchers like me... Back home, Dor Boa and I have successfully proposed two projects towards diagnostics and herbal traditional medicine in neuroblastoma, a common cancer in Vietnamese children." My Vu, Researcher Links participant 

Science and research must be integrated into post-2015 actions to ensure an evidence-informed agenda. To ensure this integration happens at the policy formulation stage, the critical engagement point for the science community is now.

The Newton Fund aims to strengthen science and innovation capacity and unlock further funding to support poverty alleviation.

The Newton Fund is a £375 million fund, managed by the UK government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which uses science and innovation to promote economic development and welfare. It is delivered through 15 UK delivery partners with 15 partner countries with projects ranging from combatting Dengue fever in Mexico to recycling electronic waste in Vietnam. 

Find out more about the Newton Fund.

Premier Skills

When the programme began in Mount Elgon, boys would harass, intimidate and even bully girls when they first met.  But...boys no longer bully the girls, and there is a sense of respect. The girls have become more aware of their rights and are more empowered..." (Jacklyn Mwetuny, a community coach, Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls Through Football programme, Kenya)

Sport has global appeal and inspirational power.

Sport brings young people from diverse countries and backgrounds together, helping to build their skills and confidence, and enabling them to meet and engage with peers in their school, community and the wider world.

  • Premier Skills uses football to develop a brighter future for young people around the world.  
  • Building on this partnership, the British Council and Premier League, with UK and Kenyan partners, are delivering an innovative pilot programme using football to tackle issues of violence against women and girls in Kenya. The programme works with young people in Mount Elgon and Kisumu to address the behaviours and attitudes that give rise to high levels of violence against women and girls.   

Find out more about Premier Skills.

Promoting Gender Equality in Education

It’s not about being a man or a woman. It’s all about being a human.” (Turkish student)

There are many more girls out of school than boys and in many countries girls face enormous challenges in even getting to school. 

Equity is written into Goal 4 and contains a specific target around eliminating gender disparities. But this is also about ensuring that  girls and boys have access to the same quality of learning and can achieve the same outcomes.

Girls have the right to a safe learning space – safe routes to school, safe classrooms and access to toilets and washing facilities.

In Turkey the project Promoting Gender Equality in Education is promoting gender equality for girls and boys throughout the education system by helping teachers, schools and the ministry of education to understand gender equality, assess their schools’ capability and capacity to deliver on this and to ensure the curriculum and textbooks are free from gender bias. 

Find out more about our work in gender equality.

‘Teach India’ partnership

Teach India is a small ray of light which gives us an opportunity to brighten our future.” (Arpit, Teach India learner and Café Coffee Day employee)

Access to English as an additional language provides skills for engagement in trade, exchange and education.

The development of models to improve access to English at all stages of life is at the heart of Goal 4. It is essential for personal development and access to meaningful employment leading to sustained economic growth.

Our work in English aims to provide this key skill to everyone who needs it, regardless of economic or social status.

‘Teach India’ is a partnership between the British Council, the Times of India and over 120 Indian NGOs. Working with 18-30 year olds from disadvantaged urban backgrounds, the initiative aims to develop their English language skills which can help lead to sustainable employment in fields including IT, media, hospitality, and retail.

Since 2010, this model has trained more than 35,000 learners with over 60 per cent of them receiving job offers after their course.

Find out more about our work in raising English standards in India.

Culture and Development

Like many Syrians out there who are scattered, I simply wish to stitch my Syria back through an act of art..." Mohamad Khayata, artist 

Artistic and cultural approaches are an effective way to empower diverse groups to participate in cross-cultural dialogue, creative and collective problem-solving, and capacity building.

The British Council is expanding its Culture and Development work globally, responding to SDGs 4, 8, 11 and 16.

Culture acts as both an enabler and driver of sustainable development by engaging communities more effectively in shaping their own outcomes and supporting open, transparent and stable societies.

  • The Voices and Spaces for Social Change programme strengthens social wellbeing through innovative arts and cultural approaches to sustainable development.
  • British Council also supports Artists in Recovery in Syria and beyond, encouraging free expression and creativity to build more inclusive and dynamic communities.
  • Our work enables us to generate innovative programmes globally, connecting socially-engaged artists and UK organisations with international development initiatives, demonstrating impact at individual, community, organisational and policy levels.

Find out more about our work supporting displaced Syrian artists for recovery and resilience.

Young Arab Voices

I felt like I mattered, like my voice combined with others can bring change to this world that seems so bleak and grey but which can actually be full of colours if I am just courageous enough to paint it.” Hella, YAV participant

We believe resilience to conflict can be increased by developing an individual’s skills and capacity to think creatively, to challenge received wisdom, argue alternative explanations, and negotiate a different future.

The Young Arab Voices programme creates opportunities

The programme develops young people’s skills and creates opportunities for debating and advocacy.

A partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Anna Lindh Foundation,  the programme (launched in 2011) has led to the establishment of debating clubs in schools, universities, NGOs and youth centres and has involved 100,000 people from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Find out more about Young Arab Voices.