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Supported by Save the Children

Debate the Sustainable Development Goals

Which goal should people focus on to help refugees and displaced children? Make your choice then defend your decision.

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
Afghanistan crisis FAQs
PDF – 507.5KB
Rohingya crisis FAQs
PDF – 636.9KB
Syria crisis FAQs
PDF – 496.6KB
Yemen crisis FAQs
PDF – 546.7KB

Before you begin

  • Remind yourself of everything people have done for their project: how did they identify the need, plan action, and take action?
  • If you have resources people made, or photos and videos of them taking action, bring them to show everyone.
  • Write the Questions to ask on six pieces of paper and display them around your meeting space.
  • Get to know the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Make sure you’re aware of the different crises currently affecting children and how Save the Children have been making a difference by reading the Save the Children website.
  • Print the symbols that represent the Sustainable Development Goals and display them around your meeting place. If you don’t have access to a printer, you could copy the symbols instead.

Remember, remember

  1. The person leading the activity should help everyone remember the main details about their project so far. They should use any resources, photos, or videos to help jog people’s memories.
  2. Everyone should move around the room, visiting each of the six pieces of paper. They should think about each question, chat with their friends, then jot down their ideas.
  1. Everyone should share their ideas.

Narrow it down

  1. The person leading the activity should read the name of one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Everyone should run to the symbol they think goes with the goal, then the person leading the activity should reveal the answer.
  2. The person leading the activity should keep reading the goals, and everyone should keep finding the symbols until they’ve matched them all.
  3. Everyone should stand by the goal they’d prioritise if they were in charge of choosing one. People should take it in turns to explain why they chose their goal.
  4. Everyone should gather in a circle, bringing the goals with them.
  5. The person leading the activity should help everyone understand the different crises affecting children.
  1. Everyone should work together to decide which goals won’t directly help solve the crises affecting children. They should put these goals face down in a pile.
  2. Everyone should chat about Save the Children’s work with refugees and displayed children. If they want to make any changes to the pile of less-relevant goals, they can.

Prepare to debate

  1. Everyone should split into small teams. The person leading the activity should give each team two or three goals.
  2. Each team should decide which one of their goals would be the most useful to support the refugees and displaced children. They should add the other goals to the face down pile.
  3. Each team should prepare to persuade the other teams that their goal is the best way to support refugees and displaced children. They could think about what difference the goal would make in the short-term and in the future, and how they goal could be achieved.
  4. Each team should choose one person to represent them in a debate. They should get ready to explain why their choice is the best option by speaking for one minute.
  5. Everyone else should get ready to be a reporter who’ll record all the important discussions. They should think of some questions they could ask each person debating, for example, ‘What does your choice do to address the issues that cause people to become refugees?’ or ‘How will your choice help people to return home?’.

Time to debate

  1. The first representative should spend one minute explaining why their goal is the most useful to support refugees and displaced children.
  2. All of the reporters should take it in turns to ask questions.
  3. The other teams should take it in turns to present their arguments and answer questions.
  4. Once all of the teams have had a turn, everyone should work together to agree on a single goal they think would be the most beneficial.
  5. Everyone should create posters to share their ideas about how this goal could help refugees and displaced children.
  1. The person leading the activity should share pictures of the posters with Save the Children by emailing It’ll help them spread the word and a group may even have thought of a new idea.

This activity helps contribute towards some of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more about the SDGs, and how Scouts across the world are getting involved.


This activity needed everyone to communicate. Was it easy to match the goals to the symbols? When else are symbols helpful for communication? People could think about overcoming language barriers (for example, signs for fire exits and toilets) or explaining complex information (for example, diagrams for putting things together). How did everyone help the representatives prepare to argue their case? Was it easy to answer questions, or were some unexpected? How did everyone communicate with each other when they were making the final decision?

This activity was also about being a local, national, and international citizen. Why is it important to have shared goals like the SDGs? Who benefits from the SDGs? People could think about how everyone would benefit from a world that’s more equal and combatting climate change. Whose responsibility is it to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality? People could think about the roles of individuals as well as businesses and governments. How can individual people influence businesses and governments to make a positive difference?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.