SDG 15 - Life on Land

Preserving diverse forms of life on land requires targeted efforts to protect, restore and promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystems. Sustainable development goal fifteen (SDG 15) focuses specifically on managing forests sustainably, halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation, successfully combating desertification and stopping biodiversity loss (UN Statistics Report, 2019).

The facts

Forests cover 30% of the earth’s surface and are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests provide vital habitats for millions of species, and important sources for clean air and water, as well as being crucial for combating climate change. Also humans depend on forests for their livelihoods – an approximate 1.6 billion people (UNDP, 2019).

Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme (2019) lists that:

  • Mountain regions provide 60-80% of the earth’s fresh water
  • Plant life provides 80% of the human diet
  • Humans rely on agriculture as an important economic resource, with 2.6 billion people depending directly on agriculture for a living.
  • The value of ecosystems to human livelihoods and well-being is US$125 trillion per year.
  • Nature-based climate solutions can contribute about a third of CO2 reductions by 2030.

Australia’s progress on SDG 15

“The main pressures affecting the Australian environment today are the same as in 2011, climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation and invasive species.”

State of the Environment Report (2016)

In Australia’s Voluntary National Review into the implementation of the SDGs, the government recognises the links between biodiversity, economic activity, and health and wellbeing.  This requires a multiple-stakeholder approach to addressing SDG 15, including businesses, environmental non-government organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, community groups and individuals. In other words, everyone has an interest in maintaining the health and productivity of the land, but particularly those who derive their income and employment from it or have a cultural connection. However, the most recent State of the Environment Report (2016) found that Australia’s biodiversity is under increased threat and has, overall, continued to decline. More than 1,700 species and ecological communities are known to be threatened and at risk of extinction.

In terms of deforestation, some complexity exists in measuring overall forest area owing both to definitions and technical improvements in methods. Nonetheless, the consensus is that forest area is in decline and this trend is expected to continue in the absence of regulatory change. By one international measure, Australia now ranks among the top nations for deforestation (Transforming Australia Report, 2018). Notwithstanding the deterioration in biodiversity and increased deforestation, there are a number of initiatives under way that aim to address these, including The National Landcare Program, The Australian Business and Biodiversity Initiative, The Responsible Wood Certification Scheme, Digital Earth Australia and legislation including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Agribusiness at La Trobe

The agricultural sector is one of Victoria’s biggest export earners and has been identified as one of the most promising sectors for Australia’s regional economy. Hence, there is strong demand for industry professionals who have skills in areas such as agribusiness and rural banking, export business and government agencies.

La Trobe Business School launched the Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) in 2017 and is taught at all Regional Victorian La Trobe University campuses including Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura. During the degree, students do not only develop skills in financing, marketing and managing agricultural businesses, but also, in line with SDG 15, focuses on creating responsible, engaged and innovative graduates equipped to help farmers improve their food production sustainably and reduce the impact on declining resources (learn more about the degree here).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 15 is produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France.  In the video, Dr Céline Louche discusses the sustainable development goal in depth, explains what terrestrial ecosystems are and what the role of businesses is regarding SDG 15. In the second part of the video, Céline interviews Rémi-Pierre Lapprend – CSR Manager at Maisons du Monde a French furniture and home decor company. The company sees SDG 15 as a framework that provides objectives and a vision regarding sustainable sourcing of wood – the most important natural resource the company uses. Through certification such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest (PECF), traceability programs set with Non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and working with experts on deforestation and biodiversity for the Maisons du Monde Foundation, the company ensures that wood that is used does not contribute to deforestation.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14