Men can reach a common goal without taking the same routes.

Amadou Hampatê Bâ


This activity involves discussion and decision making. Working in small groups, participants decide how they would reallocate money from the global military budget to fill the funding gap for four of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Related rights

• Right to life, liberty and personal security
• Right to development
• Right to an adequate living standard
• Rights to health and education


• To widen knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals
• To develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking
• To cultivate solidarity and a willingness to find solutions to global

  • Compass "money" so you have notes in the following denominations (one set per small group).
    • 8 x 100 Ems
    • 15 x 50 Ems
    • 20 x 10 Ems
  • Cards illustrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2,3,4 and 6 (one set per small group)
  • An envelope (one per small group)
  • A flipchart and 2 different coloured pens
  • A poster of the 17 SDGs
  • Make the poster of the 17 SDGs: use a photocopier to enlarge the chart of the SDGs on page XX
  • Photocopy the logos for SDGs 2, 3, 4 and 6 to make cards approximately 10 x 10 cms.
  • Put the sets of money and cards in envelopes ready to hand out.
Key Date
  • 20 DecemberInternational Human Solidarity Day


1. Explain that this activity is about how the world can find the money to solve some of the most pressing social and economic problems facing us today.

2. Ask participants what they know about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How many can they name?

3. Show the poster and, if necessary, briefly explain about the SDGs and the United Nation's commitment to them.

4. Divide the participants into groups of 5-6, and set the scene: Economists have been working hard on ways to finance the SDGs, but there will still be a shortfall. Now ”you”, one of the many UN working groups, are tasked with estimating whether $1750 billion will be sufficient to meet the annual additional finance (the funding gap) needed to achieve goal 2 (no hunger), goal 3 (good health), goal 4 (quality education) and goal 6 (clean water and sanitation).

To put the figure of $1750 billion into some sort of perspective, tell participants the global GDP in 2014 was $77,000 bn; that of USA was $17,500bn; Germany $3,850bn and Somalia 5.7bn.

5. Hand out the envelopes with the SDG cards and the money. Explain that 1 EM is equal to $1bn.

6. Ask the groups to think about what needs to be done to meet each of the four SDGs and to estimate how they much want to spend to ensure that the goals are met. They should put the money on each goal card. They do not have to spend all the money, after all there are the other 13 SDGs that will also surely have additional financing requirements.

7. Now ask each group to report back on how much they allocated to each SDG and list the figures on a flipchart. There should be no discussion at this stage; reasons for decisions should be left for the general discussion.

8. Now give the estimates that the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) produced for filling the funding gap per year:

  • Goal 2, no hunger: $50bn,
  • Goal 3, good health: $40bn,
  • Goal 4, quality education: $40bn and
  • Goal 6, clean water and sanitation: $30bn.

List them on the flipchart with a different colour pen and ask the groups to allocate their bank notes accordingly and to count how much they have left over.

9. Then tell the group that the figure of $1750bn did not come out of thin air! It is actually the figure for global military spending in 2014.

Debriefing and evaluationGoto top

Start with a review of how the activity went and then go on to talk about what people learned.

  • How did the groups work? Was it easy to agree on the priorities and estimates? How did they resolve any differences of opinion?
  • Are there any comments about the figures for the additional financing requirement for SDGs 2,3,4, and 6? Was the total of $175bn more or less than people thought would be needed?
  • Do you think we should reduce military spending and use the money to meet the SDG funding gap?
  • What about the extra finance that needs to be found for the other 13 goals? Would you spend the remaining $1580bn on them?
  • Security is obviously very important. What are the main threats facing human security today, locally and globally?
  • What would be the best way to spend the $1776bn currently spent on the military world wide?
  • Which human rights are relevant to SDG 16, peace and justice and SDGs 2, 3, 4 and 6?
  • What can the group do at local and national level to promote the SDGs?


Tips for facilitatorsGoto top

The SDGs were only introduced in 2015 and it must be stressed that the figures for the costings for the funding gap (the additional financing requirement) are tentative ( Note, this activity was developed in 2016 and at that time there were no figures for how much it would cost to meet the other SDGs.


At step 4 of the instructions, we have taken three countries as examples. The USA is listed because it has the world's highest GDP, Germany because it has Europe's highest and Somalia because it has one of the world's lowest and has a long history of war and violence. It will make the activity more engaging if you give the participants the GDPs of countries that are relevant to them. You can find this information at


It is not sensible to expect participants to make realistic estimates of the additional financing requirements with little background knowledge. Encourage them to use what knowledge they have and to guess as best they can.


The costings figures and those for the global military budget have been rounded up or down for practical reasons, but they are still close to the actual amounts. For instance, the military budget for 2014 was 1776bn according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ( Those for the funding gap given by for goals 2,3,4 and 6 are respectively: 50.2, 37, 38 and 26.8 billion UD dollars per year.


The point of asking the groups to allocate and reallocate the money is to give them a ”physical picture” and drive home the point about how little money is actually needed.


In the debriefing you can point out that the total annual additional financing required to meet SDGs 2,3,4 and 6 is $175bn; just one tenth of the annual global military budget.


Points that may emerge in the discussion about security include:

  • Old style military and defence thinking does not address the new threats we face today, such as HIV, Ebola and Ziki, transnational crime, cyberterrorism, organised crime, terrorism and climate change.
  • There are many more civil wars than the used to be. Strong national defence is no security.
  • The 1994 UN Human Development Report considered threats to human security under seven headings: political, economic, health, food, environmental, personal and community security. In many ways meeting the SDGs will make us more secure.
  • Discrimination and violations of social and economic rights function as underlying causes of conflict, creating the deep grievances and group identities that may, under some circumstances, motivate collective violence.
  • Violations of civil and political rights are often conflict triggers. Denial of political participation rights is associated with internal conflict
  • Abuse of personal integrity rights, especially in repressive regimes leads to conflict.
  • Full democracies experience less conflict than countries without democracy and a tradition of respecting human rights.
  • Surveillance by drones, video cameras in public places, phone and Internet interception is done in the name of security. How necessary is surveillance and which rights does it violate and which rights does it protect?

The linkages between SDG 16 and human rights can be found in the background information on Peace and Violence. 

VariationsGoto top

You could develop the activity into a role play about negotiating budgets for the military and the SDGs. Divide people into small groups and give them roles such as government delegates, NGOs working on poverty, HIV, education, a general from the military, a spokesman for the weapons industries, a representative of the workers in an armaments factory, soldiers, and other interest groups. For each role, you will need to give some guidelines, for example: 

  • Governments: Your priority is to improve the quality of life for your citizens but also to maintain the security of your country.
  • NGOs: Your priority is to reduce drastically the military expenditure and to end the debt of the poorest countries.
  • Military industries representative: Your priority is that you don't want to lose markets and money but you are ready to negotiate.
  • Trade union official of the military workers: Your priority is to live better and in peace, but you are also afraid of losing your jobs.

Suggestions for follow-upGoto top

Promote a discussion about what would increase global security; make sets of cards with the 10 targets for SDG 16 and ask small groups to diamond rank them. (Instructions for diamond ranking are on page 65). Follow on by asking people how effective they think each of these targets would be in increasing global security; giving reasons. Which human rights do the targets relate to?

Ask participants to compare either the GNP (gross national product) and HDI (human de- velopment index) of their own country (or Europe as a whole) with a developing country (or Africa as a whole) and then explore the reasons for the inequalities, historically and at present. Should the rich countries be taking more responsibility for the lack of development elsewhere?

The activities "Access to medicaments", "Can I come in?" about migrants or "The scramble for wealth and power" can be used to complement and deepen participants' understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and lack of development.

You could also ask participants to research the MDGs and to find out what their country is doing to contribute to meeting the goals.
Ask participants to compare either the GNP (gross national product) and HDI (human development index) of their own country (or Europe as a whole) with a developing country (or Africa as a whole) and then explore the reasons for the inequalities, historically and at present. Should the rich countries be taking more responsibility for the lack of development elsewhere?

Ideas for actionGoto top

As part of a school, or other event, turn the activity into a quiz. Make your own quiz or use one of the ones on the Internet, for instance at or Alternatively, reproduce the logos and the list of goals as a large poster and ask visitors to comment on their reactions.

You could also ask participants to find out what plans their country has to implement the SDGs. If you don't think your government is doing enough, you could write to your local Member of Parliament. Find out what is happening at the European level and write to your MEP (Member of the European Parliament).

Further informationGoto top

Useful information

Human Development Reports:

Stockholm International Peace
Research Institute – SIPRI: http://

The Third World Institute:

Further information about the
MDGs can be found at http://


The MDG icons were originally
developed by the MDGs Campaign
in Brazil

The Sustainable Development Goals were agreed by the UN in September 2015. They follow on from where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off, with the aim of ensuring - as the name suggests – sustainable development for all by 2030; a world with no poverty, no hunger, quality education for all, peace and justice – a world where human rights are respected and enjoyed by all. Where there were 8 MDGs there are now 17 SDGs which reflect the reality that human development issues are complex and cross cutting.


One of the very important differences between the MDGs and the SDGs is the understanding of the role that insecurity or violence plays in constraining development and, concomitantly, the enabling role that peace and stability play in promoting it.

SDG 16, Peace and Justice has 10 targets:

  • 16.1 Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
  • 16.2 End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children
  • 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
  • 16.4 By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime
  • 16.5 Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms
  • 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
  • 16.8 Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance
  • 16.9 By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration
  • 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements


The following papers provide more in-depth information:

  • Opportunity costs and the UN's development agenda, International Peace Bureau,
  • Paying for progress: how will emerging post-2015 goals be financed in the new aid landscape?
  • Do Human Rights Violations Cause Internal Conflict? Oskar N.T. Thoms & James Ron in Human Rights Quarterly 29 (2007)
  • Financing an end to poverty by 2030, an infographic from
  • Security: The missing bottom of the Millennium Development Goals?

HandoutsGoto top

PDFDownload as PDF


  • Poverty - End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Food - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Health - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
  • Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Women – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Water - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Economy - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
  • Inequality – Reduce inequality within and among countries]
  • Habitation - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Consumption - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Climate - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Marine-ecosystems - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Ecosystems - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Sustainability - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development