31 July 2018
WWF Report Considers Forests in Delivering the 2030 Agenda
Photo courtesy of Graciela Metternicht
story highlights

A report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) identifies the linkages between SDG 15 and the other Goals that were reviewed at the 2018 HLPF.

The report highlights the urgency of SDG targets with a 2020 time horizon, and notes that the conversion of natural habitats to agricultural land accounts for approximately 70% of projected terrestrial biodiversity loss.

11 July 2018: A paper launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) examines the role that forests play in delivering the SDGs. Emphasizing that the Goals and targets interlink with each other and can have synergies or trade-offs, the paper features case studies on how SDG 15 (life on land) can help achieve the other five Goals that were reviewed at the Forum and vice versa.

The report titled, ‘Forests and Sustainable Development: The role of SDG 15 in delivering the 2030 Agenda,’ highlights that some of the SDG targets—particularly those under Goal 15—have a 2020 time horizon, and calls for a redoubling of collective efforts to meet this “first wave,” while also looking ahead to 2030. Doing so, the report notes demands for embedding the core elements of those targets into other policy areas and production sectors. The paper offers SDG target 15.2 (by 2020 protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss) as an example, underscoring the need for policymakers in all fields to consider biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Forests, the report notes, are key to preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, the pace of tree cover loss is accelerating, with 51% more loss in 2016 than in 2015, as highlighted by a related guest article on the SDG Knowledge Hub. Reduced forests can negatively impact on clean water provisioning and downstream availability, and the report’s case study on SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) highlights how WWF has been working with local authorities in the Pantanal region of Brazil to guarantee water quality, in part by eradicating deforestation.

On SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), the report identifies the negative impact that the use of wood for energy has on forests and biodiversity. It notes that although clean energy has a positive impact, large scale renewable energy systems, such as hydroelectric infrastructure or land-use change from bioenergy, can still cause problems.

Connecting to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), the report highlights that urban green spaces and forests can improve air quality, contribute to flood management and boost the mental and physical health and well-being (SDG 3) of residents.

In the section on SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), WWF identifies connections to land use change, noting that the conversion of natural habitats to agricultural land accounts for approximately 70% of projected terrestrial biodiversity loss. The report notes that an inclusive approach to stakeholder engagement is needed to protect forests in this regard, as roughly 90% of farms worldwide are managed by a single individual or family. Proper management techniques, WWF underscores, can increase production efficiency and reduce pollution and other detrimental outputs from agricultural systems. SDG 12 and the links to agriculture and land use were also the subjects of a side event organized by WWF in the margins of the HLPF.

Concluding with SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), the report emphasizes the importance of collaboration at all levels, and that “a global perspective is essential.” While many implementation challenges are faced by the poorest countries and stakeholders, WWF highlights that debt relief and other financial mechanisms can enable more coherent, effective forest management and protection. [Publication: Forests and Sustainable Development: The role of SDG 15 in delivering the 2030 Agenda] [SDG Knowledge Hub Guest Article: An Open Goal: Why Forests and Nature Need to be at the Center of the Sustainable Development Agenda] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Bending the Curve on Forest Loss]

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