Issue 06/24

Waldorf education and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

Gunter Keller

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is about access to clean water and a functioning and safe drinking water and wastewater system. The sub-goals and indicators differ internationally. While the global focus is generally on access to drinking water - 2.1 billion people have no access to clean and consistently available drinking water - the focus in Germany, for example, is on the purity of the water. For example, excessive levels of nitrate and phosphorus are a problem.

In Waldorf education, when looking at water and nature in general, it is not just about a quantitative level of measurability of quality, but also about a sensory-aesthetic level. Knowledge and measurability are thus expanded through the perception of quality. Looking at water from a quantitative point of view would mean, for example, determining the pH value or the nitrate and phosphorus content. Sensory-aesthetic aspects would be questions such as: Does the water taste good to me? Can I describe the taste? Does the water energize me and can I feel the vitalization in my body? In this context, it is perhaps interesting to note that there are not only quantitative, but also qualitative methods for determining «good» water, such as the so-called drop picture method (see:

This involves dropping drops of water from above into a small, shallow glass bowl filled with the water to be examined, as if you were throwing a stone into a lake. This creates waves and flow patterns that are photographed at certain time intervals. Here you can see three images of drops that are contaminated with tensides, meaning soap residue, from left to right. From left to right: contamination with 0.1 ppm (parts per million), 10 ppm, 100 ppm, thus ascending from a little to a lot. The water samples show very different forms, which allow conclusions to be drawn about the quality and vitality of the water. The quality of the water decreases progressively from left to right.

For a comprehensive understanding of a context or a property, it makes sense to consider aspects that involve experience and perception in addition to what can be measured quantitatively.


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