The purpose of SDG 15 is to highlight, act on and reverse the damage we have done to our planet. The statistics on the toll that human activity is taking on our planet are astonishing: between 1990 and 2016 the world lost over 500,000 square miles of forest; we have also contributed to what is being referred to as the sixth mass extinction, with a total reduction in the animal population of up to 60% since 1970.
To reverse the current trend, and to restore a more harmonious balance with our world, requires a joint global effort. All sections of international society need to come together and take a more holistic view on the damage that each of us is contributing to our planet. Below are some of the ways that we can work to achieve this objective.
Many of the devastating actions that humans are taking is in the pursuit of business and is the effect of consumer demand in wealthier countries. For example, mass deforestation is the product of a huge demand for timber, and for agricultural land to rear livestock and to grow crops such as oil palm. These products are then sent through a complex, and opaque supply chain before ending up on supermarket shelves with the consumer often completely unaware of the damage their bought products have caused. By making supply chains transparent companies can be sure that their business activities are not contributing towards the destruction of our planet, and consumers can make more informed decisions about the products they buy.
Supporting Innovative Climate Initiatives
Reversing the damage that has already been caused by human activity requires people to come together to repair, and fight back, against the destructive forces that are destroying individual climates across the world. One example of this joint effort is the Great Green Wall that is being grown across the Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sahara. In recent years the increase in the temperatures experienced in the Sahel region have caused accelerated desertification. This means that habitats are dying out, crops can’t grow and the people who live there are struggling for adequate resources. To fight back against this desertification Sahel inhabitants, with support from international organisations and businesses, have been planting a wall of trees across the southern border between the Sahara and the Sahel regions. This joint effort means that desertification will be slowed, and the ground will be able to hold more water, bringing life back to the region.
Protecting our Wildlife
Since 1970, it is thought that the number of animals on Earth has reduced by up to 60%. This decrease is the result of actions such as over-fishing, climate destruction and hunting many species to, or to the brink of, extinction. To preserve the magnificent, and diverse, range of life on our planet we need to take action now and ensure that we protect species from destructive human activity, and restore the habitats that they have lost.
Find out more about SDG 15 here