Upcoming Event: Deepening the Impact of ESD through Happiness & SEL

Published: 12 Sep 2022

This two panel event is taking place on Sunday, September 18, 2022 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and the inaugural Transforming Education Summit, convened in response to the global crisis in education.

Register for Deepening the Impact of ESD through Happiness & SEL.

Full agendas for both panels are available below.

Panel 1: Ministerial Panel contributing to Transforming Education Summit (TES), to highlight efforts and commitment towards making SDG 4.7 a reality

12:00 - 1:00pm EDT

Sustainable development is the most urgent challenge of our time. The current global economy produces tremendous wealth, but it also produces tremendous inequality, social exclusion, and environmental destruction. In 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal and interdisciplinary framework to promote prosperity, people, and planet. It calls for a drastic shift in the way that governments and society pursue economic development, while accounting for development’s effects on social inclusion and the environment. For sustainable development to occur—and it must occur if we are to have a fair and just society for everyone—then everyone must be prepared to play their part in bringing about the necessary reforms.

To achieve the SDGs, every individual must acquire the sustainable development knowledge, global citizenship values, and 21st century skills critical to tackling our shared challenges and to promoting a future of equitable, inclusive, and resilient societies. Education is a crucial enabler of this transformation. It is the basis for cultivating the best in ourselves and our communities, and is the key for learning to live together and work together for a better world.

Transformative Education provides learners of every age with knowledge to promote social inclusion, find peace and cooperation, and raise awareness of how to protect our societies from emerging diseases, human-induced climate change, loss of biodiversity, and large-scale pollution. In the wisdom of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, the entire world has endorsed the concept of building a just world through education. The remarkable SDG Target 4.7 shows us a powerful way forward:

“By 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

Mission 4.7, a multi-partner initiative to advance transform education, was launched to put into global practice this bold vision. It underscores that the world must become more prosperous, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. The world has only until 2030 to fulfill the promise of the SDGs. To do so, current and future generations need to be equipped not just with technical knowledge and skills, but with a deeper understanding of the values needed to forge a peaceful and sustainable future.

Mission 4.7 invites Ministers of Education to join a special Ministerial Panel, a side event of the UN Transforming Education Summit to highlight their work and commitment towards making SDG 4.7 a reality. This Panel will showcase the best practices in countries that are leading the global conversation on transformative education. The Panel will be co-hosted by Mission 4.7 partners UNESCO, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and feature a keynote speech by Mission 4.7 Patron and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Event goals:

  • Promote a more sustainable future for the generations to come from our position as ministers but also as citizens of the countries we come from.
  • Contribute in policy to help learners of all ages have access to resources related to Transformative Education, Global Citizenship Education, Education for Sustainable Development and all that entails reaching target 4.7.
  • Use our influence of power to join the global task of helping achieve the SDGs before 2030.

Final comments and thoughts from the Ministerial Panel will be presented to UNESCO’s ESD-Net 2030 to inform further global strategy on advancing progress towards SDG 4.7.

The event will begin with keynote addresses by Mission 4.7 Patron and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education and Mission 4.7 Co-Chair Stefania Giannini.

Participating ministers include:

  • Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, Minister for Education, Ghana
  • Li Andersson, Minister of Education, Finland
  • Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Belize (TBC)
  • H.E. Niki Kerameus, Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, Greece (TBC)
  • Hon. Agnes NyaLonje, Minister of Education, Malawi

The panel will be moderated by Dina Buchbinder, Founder and President of Education for Sharing, and member of the Mission 4.7 Education Task Force.

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University Professor, SDSN President, and Mission 4.7 Co-Chair, will deliver concluding remarks.

Panel 2: Deepening the Impact of Education for Sustainable Development through Social Emotional Learning and Happiness

1:00 - 2:00pm EDT

The Global Happiness Council Education Policy Briefs give us the space to re-imagine education to support the psychosocial well-being of learners and educators as a foundation for effective teaching and learning.

The panel “Deepening the Impact of ESD through Social Emotional Learning and Happiness” is taking place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and the inaugural Transforming Education Summit, convened in response to the global crisis in education. The panel is co-hosted by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), The Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, The World Happiness Report, Wall’s Ice Cream, and the Blue Chip Foundation.

Panelists will discuss the Education Briefs of the Happiness Council to encourage countries and Ministers of Education to urgently prioritize strategies within education that take a more holistic approach and focus on learner mental health, well-being, and skills for resilience. The discussion will also build on the topics shared in the Ministerial Panel in the previous session as well as recent research produced by the World Happiness Report in partnership with Wall’s Ice Cream, the panel will discuss opportunities and holistic strategies to impact the resilience, mental health and well-being of every child and learner.

By bringing together policy interventions, practical strategies, and evidence-based approaches, the event will explore how social connection is a key driver for happiness and improved well-being and a crucial player in achieving SDG 4.7.


Opening Remarks: Jeffrey D. Sachs – University Professor, Columbia University, and SDG Advocate under U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres

Moderator: Alison Bellwood, Founder and Executive Director, World’s Largest Lesson at Project Everyone


  • Dr. Lara Aknin – Editor, The World Happiness Report; Professor and Lab Director, Helping and Happiness Lab, Simon Fraser University
  • Lisa Vortsman – Marketing Director, Good Humour (Wall’s Ice Cream)
  • Louka Parry – Founder and CEO, The Learning Future & Founding Member, Karanga
  • Rachael Olivia McDonald, Education Specialist

Key panel discussion points will include:

  • What is the role of happiness in development and progress, and why should it be used as an indicator and measure for economic growth?
  • Social & Emotional Learning: why it matters and how it impacts ESD
  • What are some effective Social-Emotional-Learning strategies that you have seen being employed in schools that have impacted the lives of the learners?
  • What is your one key message to the Ministers of Education that they need to consider in their post-pandemic recovery efforts to support children and learners in schools?
  • What are some of your personal COVID-19 lessons on education that you would like to take forward to improve education design and delivery?
  • What is the role of corporate institutions in supporting education for wellbeing and learner needs?