In 1972, Jack Schmitt, a 37-year-old from New Mexico in the US, pointed a 70mm Hasselblad camera through his window, clicked the shutter, and changed history.

That’s because Schmitt was an astronaut on board the Apollo 17 spacecraft 29,000km above the surface of the Earth, and the image he captured – known as the Blue Marble – is perhaps the most famous and most widely viewed photograph of all time.

The photograph of our planet from space had a profound effect in its day on the way humanity viewed our home. For the first time, people all over the world had a clear sense of the Earth’s fragile perfection and its insignificance in the immensity of the universe, and it inspired a deep sense that we all had a duty to share it and care for it.

I think of our Blue Marble now because it is used as a symbol of Earth Day, 22 April, with ACCA joining with organisations and individuals all around the world to mark the occasion this year. As part of our contribution, we’ve made a film about how and why ACCA has included the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our corporate strategy.


Orla Collins, ACCA president

Good quality education is the means of lifting people out of poverty – poverty in terms of wealth and aspiration

For the recording, I joined ACCA chief executive Helen Brand and ACCA deputy president Joseph Owolabi in selecting one of the goals that is especially significant for us – and we also invite you to share your choice. Helen picks No 5, gender equality. Joseph speaks about No 11, sustainable cities and communities. And I chose No 4, quality education.

This cause is close to my heart because good education for all is the key to unlocking progress in so many of the other SDGs. Extending access to learning, skills and qualification to all people can deal a hammer blow to wealth inequality, gender unfairness, and the economic imbalance between the developed and underdeveloped worlds. Good quality education is the means of lifting people out of poverty – not just poverty in terms of wealth, but of aspiration too.

I am so proud that ACCA is dedicated to opening up the opportunity of a good finance education to people everywhere, and I am delighted that we have adopted the UN SDG on the issue as part of our plans. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I found my way to ACCA when I was young, and got the chance to qualify as an accountant and start out on the path to a good career. More than anything else, I love to encourage more people to seize educational opportunities whenever they can, at whatever stage of their career they find themselves.

With a good education, everybody gets the chance to reach for the stars. And that’s a prize worth aiming for, as Jack Schmitt would no doubt agree.

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