With about one-fifth of the world’s population, China has the ability to significantly contribute to the success of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country made impressive strides in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in poverty alleviation, and is well-positioned to build on that progress in the post-2015 development agenda despite the challenges it will undoubtedly face.
To raise public awareness, engage stakeholders and help China reach the new ambitious targets outlined by the Goals, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) focused on the SDGs developed in cooperation with NetEase Media. The MOOC became available on NetEase’s open course platform earlier this month, with both Chinese and English subtitles.
The interactive and free online course introduces the 17 SDGs and the situation of each Goal in China through 19 modules. The modules also explore the opportunities and challenges of the Goals in China and provide initial recommendations for policymakers, the private sector and the public on the roles they can take to help achieve them. Participants who complete the course and pass a test at the end will obtain a certificate from the UNDP.
Speakers from a variety of prominent institutions are featured in the course, from UNDP experts and development practitioners to influential experts from Peking University, Tsinghua University, Ministry of Environmental Protection, The Energy Research Institute of NDRC, and the China Youth & Children Research Association, among others.
“It is very important that as many people as possible get familiar with and learn about the SDGs and its benefits so that they can gain an understanding of how achieving the SDGs can improve society and their lives,” Patrick Haverman, the Deputy Country Director of UNDP China said during the MOOC’s launch event.
“We hope this platform can be a useful tool in spreading awareness of the SDGs to online audiences,” added Li An, Marketing General Manager at NetEase Media. “Public engagement is important and NetEase is glad to contribute its platform to facilitate engagement from public. We are proud supporters of the SDGs.”
The size of China’s population alone means its actions could have significant impact on the entire international community, but it has further demonstrated leadership through the degree of its commitments. For instance, the Chinese government plans to reduce its citizens’ meat consumption from an average of 63 kilograms of meat per year to between 14 and 27 kilograms per year based on new dietary guidelines. China currently consumes the most meat in absolute terms (albeit roughly half as much meat per person as the average American or Australian), and given the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, this initiative alone caries significant implications. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is continuing to launch pilot projects related to the circular economy, transportation, and other areas to identify effective means of increasing efficiency and cutting back the amount of waste it creates and energy it consumes. For their part, advocacy groups are encouraging behavior change among consumers.