Magazine article UN Chronicle

Goal 15: Protect, Restore and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, and Halt and Reverse Land Degradation and Halt Biodiversity Loss

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Goal 15: Protect, Restore and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, and Halt and Reverse Land Degradation and Halt Biodiversity Loss

Article excerpt

The proposed 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) are the result of extensive negotiations undertaken by United Nations Member States in order to agree on the world we want by 2030. The 17 goals span a number of economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Achieving these goals will require an unprecedented level of cooperation necessary to leverage available financing and knowledge resources as well as implementation modalities. An integrated, interdisciplinary approach within and across goals is required.

A case in point is SDG 15 which aims to "protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss". It is accompanied by 10 targets, which include integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, and poverty reduction strategies and accounts, and a target to mobilize and significantly increase from all sources financial resources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems.

Tackling deforestation, land degradation, desertification and the protection of biodiversity cannot be treated in isolation: healthy ecosystems are the bedrock of poverty reduction efforts, resilient and productive farming, and water systems that underpin development and growth. Many agriculture, health and water experts are aware that deforestation and suboptimal land use could seriously impair plans to ensure healthy lives (SDG 3), end hunger (SDG 2) and supply water (SDG 6). If narrow sectoral approaches remain the norm, and negative spillover effects remain unchecked, the space for longterm development will become increasingly constrained. Intersectoral approaches, on the other hand, can help deliver on multiple goals in a more far-sighted and effective manner.

Governments will be committing to meet the SDGs at a time when resources around the globe are already severely depleted, threatening their ability to deliver on social and economic opportunities. It is estimated that close to 50 per cent of all jobs worldwide are linked to agriculture, fisheries and forests. Three quarters of the world's 115 top crops depend on animal pollination, and more than 50 per cent of all medications are based on medicinal plants, yet animal and plant biodiversity is receding fast in the wake of deforestation and forest fragmentation. About 1 billion people rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein, yet major fish stocks are in decline. Mangroves are being lost at the alarming rate of 2 to 7 per cent annually, and with them key habitats for fisheries and storm protection.

In this context, the post-2015 agenda also has significant implications for the World Bank Group. Its goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the bottom 40 per cent of the population in a sustainable manner are well aligned with the SDGs. Because SDG 15 proposes to protect, restore and enhance natural ecosystems, it is central to the Bank's work in rural areas where 78 per cent of the world's extreme poor still live, and to the longterm economic growth prospects on behalf of future generations. It proposes no less than to safeguard the planet for tomorrow.

Results from local reforestation efforts to full-fledged green growth strategies show that win-wins are possible and within reach. For example, the experience of the Republic of Korea following the 2008 financial crisis demonstrated that it is possible to both boost jobs and gross domestic product (GDP), while also reducing pollution and carbon emissions. …

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