THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: PORTUGUESE CITIZENS LITERACY AND EMERGING QUESTIONS FOR RESEARCH
In September 2000, the United Nations adopted the United Nations “Millennium Development Goals”, a document that first stated principles to meet freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, the respect for nature and shared responsibility. Different indicators related to social, economic and environmental issues were developed so as to monitor the achievement of these 8 goals, which were to be met by the year 2015. Several of the objectives showed a very positive development, but others revealed a low improvement and claimed for a renewed and more accurate intervention. In this context, in September 2015, the United Nations presented the new agenda for 2030. The 17 goals and 169 targets of this new 2030 Agenda seek to strengthen universal peace and wider freedom. The achievement of these new targets depends not only on public policies but also and foremost on the commitment of all citizens.
In order to evaluate the Portuguese Citizens’ literacy regarding the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an interview script was elaborated and validated by three experts in Science Education. The interview was designed so as to be answered in one minute and a half and comprised two questions, after identifying the age and gender of the respondents: (i) Do you know what 2030 Agenda (of United Nations to Sustainable Development with the aim of changing the world) is?; (ii) Taking into account the aims of Agenda 2030 (which we provided in a sheet of paper), which research questions do you consider to be a priority in Portugal? Two members of the research team conducted the interviews. These took place in a public space (the citizens’ bureau) located in an urban city area in the North of Portugal, where Portuguese citizens were approached and asked to participate.
The 124 interviews (69 males and 55 females) were audiotaped for a better and more reliable transcription. Content analysis was subsequently performed with the help of the Q.S.R. N Vivo 11 qualitative data analysis package. All the members of the research team independently performed content analysis. They subsequently compared and improved their analysis, until a consensus was reached. The main evidence shows that only a small number of Portuguese citizens are aware of the new aims and targets for Sustainable Development (n=9). Also, they recognized a specific relevance in the development of research in the areas of education, equality of gender and environmental issues. Nonetheless, research concerning the eradication of poverty was one of the most referred, while no one mentioned the need to enhance global partnership for sustainable development, a target that lays the foundation for all the others. Given the relevance of the citizens aware and commitment to achieve the targets of Agenda 2030, more attention should be given to these aspects in schools, in a way that contributes to students and public awareness.