Following the list of the SDGs, the fifteenth goal is 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”. (1)
Human life is dependent on the land in the same way it is from the oceans to survive. Plantlife impacts almost 80% of the human diet, and agriculture is a crucial economic resource. Forests cover 30% of the Earth’s surface, provide vital habitats for a huge number of animal species, while also being sources of air and water beyond the positive impact they have on climate change. (2)
However, life on land is seriously in danger: every year 13 million hectares of forests are lost and land degradation has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares. (2)
Even though 15% of the land is protected, biodiversity is still in danger. Around 7000 species of animals and plants are marketed illegally. This problem affects animal life, but also creates conflicts and increases corruption. (2)
To help you understand the magnitude of the correlation between human life and ecosystems, almost 1.6 billion humans depend on forests to survive, and 2.6 billion humans depend directly on agriculture. Forests are home to 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants, and insects in addition to the supply of freshwater by mountainous regions that lies between 60% and 80%. (2)
IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species is an inventory covering the global conservation status of plant and animal species. Several quantitative criteria are used to assess the risk of extinction of thousands of species. Each criterion is relevant for most species in every region of the world. (3)
The IUCN red list is used by various entities such as national and international government agencies, wildlife departments, non-governmental organizations (ONGs), natural resource planners, educational organizations, zoos and aquariums, students, the media, and the business community to understand which species are endangered and how they can contribute to their preservation. (3)
What are the biggest threats?
More than 25% of the species recorded on the IUCN Red List are close to extinction. Of these species 41% are amphibians, 34% are conifers, 33% are reef-building corals, 26% are mammals and 14% are birds. Of the 134,400 species on the IUCN red list, 37400 are in danger of extinction. (1)
What is done to fight this issue?
Even though over the years, governments have made progress to increase sustainability and forest management, the world has lost more than 100 million hectares of forest in the last 2 decades (2000-2020). (1)
A lot of effort has been put into protecting the key areas of biodiversity, but progress has been still in the last 5 years. (1)
Almost all countries have adopted legislation for preventing or controlling invasive alien species that negatively affect biodiversity and cost the global economy billions of dollars annually. (1)
Global Impact Game
We share with you this game, related to SDG 15 that consists in “planting a tree” in a figurative way by placing balls over cones. You can play it with your friends or colleagues and the more people the more fun! (4)
How can companies help the achievement of SDG 15?
Increase financial resources to conserve and sustainably use ecosystem and biodiversity
Each company should make an effort to significantly mobilize and increase its financial resources directed to conserve and use biodiversity and ecosystems correctly. (5)
Finance and incentivize sustainable forest management
Companies should mobilize their financial resources to finance sustainable forest management and seek to provide positive and appropriate incentives to developing countries to contribute to the conservation of ecosystems and reforestation. (5)
Combat global poaching and trafficking
Companies that are affected by the animal-dependent sector should increase support to fight against poaching and the traffic of protected species, increasing the possibilities for local communities to find sustainable livelihoods. (5)
The SDG Compass website suggests 9 more solutions that companies can adopt to help fight SDG 15 (6):
- Measure, manage and mitigate impacts on ecosystems and natural resources.
- Scale-up best practices for land use planning and management.
- Invest in natural infrastructure as a cost-competitive alternative to grey infrastructure.
- Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes.
- Support and apply landscape approaches, based on multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaborative action, to overcome social and environmental fracture lines in landscapes facing deforestation, land and ecosystem degradation.
- Commit to and implement responsible sourcing practices beyond compliance – applying environmental and social safeguards for all raw materials and commodities.
- Expand markets for responsible forest products and thereby support sustainable forest management.
- Foster product and technology innovation to optimize resource efficiency, reduce impacts on ecosystems and lower carbon emissions.
- Scale-up industrial reuse of water and support watershed protection programs.
Companies to take inspiration from
If you are looking for inspiration, here is a list of companies that make a difference with their sustainable initiative towards the achievement of SDG 15.
Hong Kong-based startup EcoMatcher provides solutions to plant trees transparently. The startup’s provides an app called TreeCorder which allows tree-planting organizations to document and track the growth of newly planted trees. (7)
The app assigns a tracking number to each tree, and tags it with GPS coordinates, so that who planted the tree can track its progress from everywhere in the world. (7)
Bees play a crucial role in agricultural systems, as well as local biodiversity. Despite that, beekeepers generally lack functional information on hives. (7)
UBEES is a US-based startup focused on precision beekeeping. Their product provides sensors for non-intrusive and remote monitoring of the hives’ health, monitoring the levels of parasites, pathogens, exposure to pesticides, and bee nutrition to facilitate data-driven decision-making. (7)
Wildfires can quickly destroy large tracts of forests and are increasing in frequency due to climate change. Preventing and tracking them is becoming always more important. (7)
OroraTech is a German startup that detects wildfires and provides detailed maps of wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity, forest cover, terrain and slope and fire risk. With the help of multiple satellite data sources, the startup sends instant email notifications for new hotspots in areas of interest allowing real-time monitoring of fires as they are burdening. (7)
Actions you can take in your daily life to achieve SDG 15
To achieve the objectives of SDG 15, each one of us should do our part. In addition to companies, organizations, and governments, we have to take actions in our personal lives that can help achieve the goal.
Here is a list of actions, suggested by the United Nations, everyone can do to contribute to SDG 15. (5)
- Conserve and restore terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems
- End deforestation and restore degraded forests
- End deforestation and restore degraded land
- Ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems
- Protect biodiversity and natural habits
- Promote access to genetic resources and fair sharing of the benefits
- Eliminate poaching and trafficking of protected species
- Prevent invasive alien species on land and in water ecosystems
- Integrate ecosystem and biodiversity in governmental planning
GründerAtelier’s Impact Accelerator
This was the fifteenth article of our SDGs series, which aims to make the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals easy to put into practice for start-ups and entrepreneurs, in general.
If you are in charge or work for an impact-related start-up that supports one or multiple SDGs you can apply to our Impact Accelerator where we will guide you through the journey to become investment-ready and then, introduce you to our VC partners.
(1) Goal 15: Life on land. (n.d.). Retrieved from United Nations website. Accessed on 01/02/2022
(2) Goal 15: Life on land. (n.d.). Retrieved from UNDP website. Accessed on 01/02/2022
(3) Goal 15: Life on land. (n.d.). Retrieved from IUCN website. Accessed on 01/02/2022
(4) Goal 15: Life on land. (n.d.). Retrieved from GG Impact Games website. Accessed on 01/02/2022
(5) Goal 15: Life on land. (n.d.). Retrieved from Global Goals website. Accessed on 01/02/2022
(6) Goal 15: Life on land. (n.d.). Retrieved from SDG Compass website. Accessed on 01/02/2022
(7) Goal 15: Life on Land. (n.d.). Retrieved from Startus Insights website. Accessed on 08/02/2022.