Sustainable Development Goals for Nature

We, the people, are nature and need plants and animals to survive and thrive on this planet.

A healthy biodiversity and balanced ecosystems secure an abundant life on Earth for all. 
Can we create this balance without compromising our luxurious lifestyle?

Yes! Learn about the goals
Written by Jess Lohmann and Harkiran Bharij

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

A total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be reached by 2030 were created by the United Nations and adopted by all 193 member states in 2015.

These goals are an urgent call-to-action for all humanity to work together so that we can solve the pressing issues of our time.

According to the World Bank, there are about one billion people that live in extreme poverty and now with COVID-19, an additional 150 million are expected to fall into this category in 2021.

The 17 goals range from solving the challenges of poverty and hunger to improving healthcare, providing quality education, combating inequalities, tackling climate change to establishing world peace and protecting plants and animals.

Goals to inspire action for:
People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership!


How well do we know the SDGs?

A World Economic Forum study in 2019 asked almost 20,000 people aged 16 – 74 from 28 countries how familiar they were with the Sustainable Development Goals. An amazing 74% of adults worldwide claimed to be aware of the SDGs. This is a huge improvement from the OECD study done in 2017, which found that between 28 and 45 percent of people globally had heard of the goals.

There were some disparities between countries:

  • Great Britain and Japan ranked lowest in terms of familiarity.
  • Over half (51%) of respondents in the United States had not heard of them, despite the country being the home of the UN.
  • 92% of those in Turkey had heard of them.
  • In China, 90% had heard of the SDGs.

There were also some demographic differences:

  • Respondents under the age of 35 were the most aware of the SDGs, with 9.6 reporting that they were familiar with them.
  • Contrastingly, only 6.3% of that aged 35 to 49 and 2% of those aged 50 to 74 had heard of them.
  • Only 23% of under 35 said that they had never heard of the goals.

Awareness is being spread each and every day!


Which goals have priority?

Respondents were also asked which ones they felt were the most / least important.

Most Important

Linked to immediate human needs:

  • SDG 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 4: Good Health and Wellbeing
  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Least Important

Compared to:

  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequality
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Did you notice anything?

 What about Animals and our Planet?

Unfortunately — and unsurprisingly — none of the nature-related SDGs were mentioned (SDGs 13, 14 and 15) in either category. SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy does affect #13: Climate Action and all 17 SDGs are interconnected in many ways.

Still, fact remains: Nature is just not on everyone’s minds even though it’s what secures our survival on Earth.

Without climate action and the protection of marine life and life on land, we will drive our own species into extinction. Not today or tomorrow, but perhaps sooner than we wish if we don’t act.

And even IF #13, #14 or #15 were mentioned, there is still one major oversight. Each goal was developed with an anthropocentric viewpoint, meaning, from a perspective that puts humans above all else.

The goals do not consider the actual wellbeing of non-humans’, however, if we reach them, they will positively affect non-human animals and I’ll take anything at this point, but in order to survive on this planet, we humans must understand that we are nature and have the huge responsibility to protect our biodiversity by respecting all living organisms.

Remove just one link in the circle of life and an entire ecosystem breaks down.

In this article, Jamie Woodhouse wrote about how to improve the SDGs with so-called “Sentientist Development Goals”, so please keep that in mind while reading about each of the ‘Goals for Nature’ below and on the following pages.

Because if we don’t get these three SDGs right, nothing else matters!

UN Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action
UN Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life below water
UN Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on land

A closer look at the SDGs for Nature

SDG 13: Climate Action

Climate change is a result of global warming and refers to a broad range of changes that we have been witnessing for decades but hasn’t been on everyone’s mind since just recently.

2019 was the warmest year to date on a global scale and the end of the warmest decade. What happened? Massive wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, floods and other climate disasters.

Global temperatures are expected to rise as much as 3.2°C by the end of the century. To help lessen the threat of climate change, the Paris Agreement calls for limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2030, meaning that greenhouse gases must fall by 7.6% each year!

However, what we’re seeing now is 100% attention from our governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, fully ignoring the actual crisis of our time.

SDG 14: Life below Water

Oceans heal and provide life. They support the global population’s economic, social and environmental needs.

If we continue to destroy the marine biodiversity in the current rate, we will witness the massive extinction of many different species, including our own.

Current efforts to protect marine environments are being made, however, they are not yet meeting the urgent need to safeguard these places.

What if we put as much care and compassion into ocean conservation efforts as we are in combating the pandemic?

SDG 15: Life on Land

There are several human activities that are negatively impacting land wildlife:

Wildlife crimes such as poaching, trophy/illegal hunting, stealing, etc., endangers both animal species and humans, including new deadly diseases. 75% of emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and the avian flu are zoonotic, meaning these infections are transmitted from wildlife to people.

Land degradation such as mining, pollution, non-sustainable agriculture, construction, war, etc. is undermining the wellbeing of 3.2 billion people, driving species to extinction and intensifying climate change.

Deforestation remains high due to similar activities as land degradation. Out of 4.06 billion hectares of forest, more than half are subject to management plans.

An unhealthy biodiversity challenges our survival on this planet as well as drives other species into extinction. There’s been an increase of extinct species of about 10% over the past three decades.

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