Goal 18 in the 2030 Agenda

Goal 18 in the 2030 Agenda

17+1 Sustainable Development Goals for Agenda 2030

What is the 17+1 or 18 Goal?

This is the goal that aims to claim and guarantee the presence and recognition of all languages and cultures in the 2030 Agenda for the development of people and societies.
The United Nations launched the 2030 Agenda in 2015, following the Millennium Development Goals agreed in 2000. The 2030 Agenda has 17 goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with their respective targets. However, among the 169 challenges formulated to achieve it, the cultural and linguistic characteristics of individuals and ethno-linguistic groups are barely mentioned (García-Azkoaga & Idiazabal, 2021). Culture is mentioned indirectly and languages are not even mentioned. The agenda is therefore unfinished without mentioning cultural and linguistic diversity, which is a fundamental pillar if we take into account that language runs through each and every one of the goals, and even more so when we are talking about minority languages.

Here you can see the video of the Goal 18.


17+1 Goal: to guarantee linguistic and cultural diversity

Doctrine and experience have shown us time and time again that languages are an economic driving force, a key factor for peace and social cohesion, and ultimately a matter of human rights. For all these reasons, sustainable development must necessarily take languages into account.

We know that the places most affected by poverty and the effects of climate change in the world are places that are culturally and linguistically very diverse. In these areas we often witness development models based on exploitation by multinationals and this in turn influences the levels of violence that occur, especially against women. In addition, the knowledge generated and accumulated over centuries by local communities that enables them to relate to each other and to the environment around them is being lost forever. If, as the Agenda states, poverty is the most serious problem we face, we will not be able to end it adequately if we do not take into account the particularities of local languages and cultures. It is essential to recognise the importance that people attach to their language in order to curb poverty and hunger. In the field of education, if we are to achieve inclusive education, it will be necessary to promote models that encourage the use of one's own language and culture.

On the other hand, we must promote the learning of all children in the hegemonic languages so that they have the same opportunities to be educated and to relate to the outside world. This will be the way to achieve a quality education: one that looks at the world from its own identity but which is necessarily integrated into an interconnected global society.

Based on our experience in the Basque Country, the importance of languages and cultures in the development of communities is clear to us. For this reason, we believe that we must share with society the path we have taken and highlight the link between human beings and their language and the importance of these elements in the integral development of communities.


Lines of development of Goal 18 targets

Guarantee the presence and recognition of all languages and cultures as an essential factor for personal and social development.

  1. Empower and give visibility to minoritised language communities in order to strengthen different identities.
  2. Promote appropriate legislation and effective policy strategies that take into account different peoples and cultures.
  3. Ensure that all languages are present in the respective education systems, at least at the primary and secondary level.
  4. Promote bi-plurilingual education models that guarantee the practical use of at least two languages, always ensuring that the minority language is taught effectively.
  5. Reduce the digital divide, guaranteeing access to new technologies in all languages, especially minority languages.
  6. Ensure the presence of these languages in all written and audiovisual media and in the field of new technologies.
  7. Promote the provision of public services, especially in the field of health and justice, in the languages of the different linguistic communities, especially indigenous ones.
  8. In third country programmes, take into account the language criterion in all the planned phases: identification, diagnosis, design, development and evaluation.


Creation of the Goal 18

At the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic year at the EASO Polytechnic School of Donostia, the teacher and member of the Chair of World Linguistic Heritage Mikel Mendizabal, in the higher degree course of Education and Environmental Control, began to work on the 2030 Agenda with the students. On reading and studying the Agenda and its 17 goals in depth, he realised that the Agenda barely mentioned languages and cultures. For this reason, she proposed adding a new goal to the 17 goals: linguistic and cultural diversity.
The source of this idea was the reflection carried out in the Chair on linguistic ecology and development. In addition, Mendizabal, thanks to the contact he had with indigenous peoples, analysed that the connection between linguistic diversity and Mother Earth also affected the issue.
Once the new goals was "created", he made a constructive criticism of the UN proposal, and, at the same time, started to open the way to work on the relationship between languages-culture, sustainability-nature and development. From the outset, Miguel Angel Elkoroberezibar, head of strategy and head of system management at EASO Polytechnic, was clear about the value of SDG 18, and on behalf of the school's management, he defended the reflections carried out at the school.

As soon as the observatory was launched, Mendizabal shared the details of the work of the EASO centre with the other members of the Chair, and made the connection between the two to continue working on the 17+1 Goal.


Historical overview

2017: At the EASO Polytechnic School, the reflection is launched and shared with the Chair.

6 November 2017: in Zestoa, at the meeting of the Unesco Network of the Basque Country, when UN Etxea launches the Agenda 2030 exhibition, Itziar Idiazabal criticises the lack of languages and culture on behalf of the Chair.

18 January 2018: The presentation of the new goal took place at the Easo Polytechnic School, where the image that would appear on panel 18, the work of Maia Etxebarria, was selected. The press was also invited. In addition to the school delegation, the Itziar Idiazabal Chair and the director of UN Etxea, Arantxa Acha, took part in the presentation.

February 2018: An exhibition is launched to vindicate the 17+1 goal, called "17+1 goals to transform the world".

2019: The UPV/EHU includes Sustainable Development Goal 18 on Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in its Agenda 2030.

2023: Contrasting sessions are held in Lehendakaritza. The Chair participated in the "Contrasting Group" convened by the General Secretariat for Social Transition and Agenda 2030 of the Presidency of the Basque Government to reflect on the materialisation of Goal 18, together with other agents from the world of the Basque language. Elhuyar acted as technical secretariat.

October 2023: The Basque Government began to draw up the monitoring report on Goal 18 (Incorporation of Goal 18 into the Euskadi Basque Country 2030 agenda) to gather its contributions to the agenda. Among other things, it commissioned UN Etxea to process the participatory process to include Goal 18 in the agenda.

Likewise, since 2017, the Chair and its members have participated in various conferences and initiatives to demand the presence of Goal 18 in the 2030 Agenda.