Goal 15: Life on land

Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods. Plant life provides 80 percent of our human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 percent of the earth’s surface, providing vital habitats for millions of species and important sources for clean air and water; as well as being crucial for combating climate change.

Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.

The SDGs aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Halting deforestation is also vital to mitigating the impact of climate change. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage.

Facts and figures

1.6 billion

Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods.

80%

Forests are home to more than 80 percent of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

2.6 billion

2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture for their livelihoods.

33%

Nature-based climate solutions can contribution about a third of the CO2 reductions needed by 2030.

$US125 trillion

The value of ecosystems to human livelihoods and well-being is $US125 trillion per year.

60-80%

Mountain regions provide 60-80 percent of the earth's fresh water.

  • By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

  • By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

  • By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

  • By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

  • Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

  • Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

  • Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

  • By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

  • By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts

  • Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems

  • Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation

  • Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities
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Goals in action
SDG 1 SDG 5 SDG 6 SDG 8 SDG 10 SDG 15

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The Cook Islands prepare for climate change

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For Phub Zem Doya who lives in the remote village of Singye in southwest Bhutan, water is precious, and not to be taken for granted.

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Voices with identity

Deyanira Mishari has an unusual job for an indigenous Peruvian woman—she’s Head of the San Matias-San Carlos Protection Forest.

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"Where my carpet is, there is my house."

UNDP support encourages an ancient and revered tradition to thrive in Azerbaijan.

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SDG 1 SDG 3 SDG 6 SDG 11 SDG 13 SDG 15 SDG 17

Wetlands give life

Uganda's wetlands are the jewels in the country's ecosystem. Preserving them is critically important.

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"The marrow of Nature"

World Wetlands Day celebrates the often-unheralded role that wetlands play in protecting the earth.

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SDG 15 SDG 17

Jamaica's 'Jurassic Park' moment

In 1990, Edwin Duffus, a pig hunter, walked into the Hope Zoo in Kingston, Jamaica and handed over a large lizard his dog had retrieved while hunting…

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SDG 3 SDG 13 SDG 15

Reclaiming the sands of a dead sea

Cleaning up an environmental catastrophe after decades of misuse.

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UNDP Around the world