Rilli Lappalainen

For the next 10 days, about 3,000 people are attending the UN’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) to review our global, collective effort to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year is especially important to Bridge 47, because SDG 4 ‘Quality Education’ is being reviewed.


Education is a fundamental tool to work towards a more sustainable future. But we have to be clear about how education forms contribute to this foundation. The Bridge 47 network advocates for transformative learning that is lifelong. This means looking and investing beyond formal education systems, recognising the importance of non-formal, informal and adult education. It is important that we do this in order for a transformative process to restore our environment and re-think current economic and governance systems. We need to start now with enabling citizens everywhere to experience transforming education journeys; changing themselves and their pockets of the world.


The Bridge 47 Global Network works to bring together practitioners and policy makers from all types of value-based educations listed in SDG Target 4.7. Through this global network, we have learned that there is a huge capacity to change systems and practices, when educations, actors and actions are joined together. For example, partnerships between civil society organisations and Slovakian Government have begun to develop more holistic cooperation, including new funding streams for global citizenship education. Discussions in Finland and Scotland centre around policy coherence for sustainable development, with education as the centre block.


Given the discussions between civil society actors that lead up to this years’ HLPF, I am convinced more than ever that it is time to join forces in a meaningful way. It is my hope that conversations that have already begun through Bridge 47 project about building partnerships between civil society actors, academia and decision makers can further contribute to a new way of working.


Bridge 47 Global Network is attending HLPF 2019 to ensure that lifelong learning is a key element of the debate about SDG 4, as well as discussions about how member states and civil society actors should move forward to further advance SDG 4 and other 16 SDGs. Through SDG Target 4.7, we have an opportunity to truly interlink all of the SDGs, because nothing short of a serious step change will enable us to reach the vision of agenda 2030.


I'm looking forward for hearing more about progress in different places in world, and also to building new coalitions to deepen and strengthen cooperation between different actors.


If you are interested in attending some of Bridge 47's events at HLPF, you can learn more about those events here in our news section.

About the Author

Rilli Lappalainen

Rilli Lappalainen is founder and chair of Bridge 47 which is a global network to bring people together to share and learn with the help of global citizenship education. Bridge 47 ( works by networking, doing advocacy, building partnerships and creating innovations. Global citizenship education has been the redline of Rilli´s work and life from local scouts to global networking. Currently, Rilli is also Director of Advocacy and Policy in Fingo, Finnish Development NGOs. Before, he worked, for example, for  several years with European external policies in civil society and European commission and in development cooperation in Senegal, Nepal and Zambia. Rilli is passionate about always finding better ways to integrate learning and education in politics and practice and mixing things up to find new solutions for all.