June SDG: Life Below the Water, Life on Land
This month’s Sustainable Development Goal the Local Peace Economy is working on are threes: Goal 13 Climate change to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts on the other two SDGs; 14 Life Below Water, to conserve and sustainably use the world’s ocean, seas and marine resources and 15 Life on Land, to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss. The oceans and the forest make the Earth habitable for humankind. Human activities: overfishing, deforestation, pollution, and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Investing in sustainable management practices is critical for improving livelihoods and reducing risks for the economy.
Oceans and forests are our planet’s life support by regulating the global climate system. Climate change with it shifting weather patterns and intensity of hurricanes – poses major challenges to life in the water and on land; including human beings and their mammal cousins, and all life, who inhabit the earth’s oceans and forests.
Goal 14 is about conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. Healthy oceans and seas are essential to human existence and life on Earth. They cover 70 per cent of the planet and provide food, energy and water. The ocean absorbs around one quarter of the world’s annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, thereby mitigating climate change and alleviating its impacts.
It is essential to conserve and sustainably use them. Yet, human activity is endangering the oceans and seas – the planet’s largest ecosystem – and affecting the livelihoods of billions of people.
Facts and Figures
- In 2021, more than 17 million metric tons of plastic entered the world’s ocean, making up 85 per cent of marine litter. The volume of plastic pollution entering the ocean each year is expected to double or triple by 2040.
- Continuing ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures are threatening marine species and negatively affecting marine ecosystem services. Between 2009 and 2018, the world lost about 14 per cent of coral reefs.
- The global coverage of marine protected areas stood at 8 per cent of global coastal waters and oceans in 2021.
- More than a third (35.4 per cent) of global fish stocks were overfished in 2019, up from 34.2 per cent in 2017 and 10 per cent in 1974. However, the rate of decline has recently slowed.
- Almost half a billion people depend at least partially on small-scale fisheries, which account for 90 per cent of employment in fisheries worldwide.
Despite the critical importance of conserving oceans, decades of irresponsible exploitation have led to an alarming level of degradation. Current efforts to protect key marine environments and small-scale fisheries, and to invest in ocean science are not yet meeting the urgent
need to safeguard this vast, yet fragile, resource. Yet there is a chance for oceans to recuperate, if we act now to protect oceans and fisheries so they can continue to support the global population’s economic, social and environmental needs.
Goal 15 is about conserving life on land. It is to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and stop biodiversity loss. Healthy ecosystems and the biological diversity they support are a source of food, water, medicine, shelter and other material goods. They also provide ecosystem services – the cleaning of air and water – which sustain life and increase resiliency in the face of mounting pressures.
Nevertheless, human activities have profoundly altered most terrestrial ecosystems: around 40,000 species are documented to be at risk of extinction over the coming decades, 10 million hectares of forest (an area the size of Iceland) are being destroyed each year, and more than half of key biodiversity areas remain unprotected.
Facts and Figures
- Forest cover fell from 31.9 per cent of total land area in 2000 to 31.2 per cent in 2020, a net loss of almost 100 million hectares.
- Agricultural expansion is driving almost 90 per cent of global deforestation, including 49.6 per cent from expansion for cropland and 38.5 per cent for livestock grazing.
- Between 2010 and 2021, the area of forest land under certification schemes increased by 35 per cent. The proportion of forests under a long-term management plan increased from 54 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2020.
- More than 700 million hectares of forest (18 per cent) were in legally established protected areas in 2020.
- Human activities such as logging and farming are encroaching upon habitats, putting about 20 per cent of reptile species at risk.
- Globally, the mean percentage coverage of key biodiversity areas increased from over one quarter in 2000 to nearly one half in 2021.
- More and more countries are establishing national targets for incorporating ecosystem and biodiversity values into their accounting and reporting systems. By January 2022, 37 per cent of countries assessed are on track to achieve or exceed their national targets.
While forest loss remains high, 2020 data show that the proportion of forests in protected areas and under long-term management plans increased or remained stable at the global level and in most regions of the world. Stable well-managed protected areas support healthy ecosystems, which in turn keep people healthy. Investing in sustainable management practices is critical for improving livelihoods and reducing risks for the economy. The involvement of the local communities is critical in the development and management of these protected areas to ensure a sustainable future and income for local people in the face of climate change.
Oceans and forests are linked together in a global climate system that sustains life on earth and underpins the basis for climate change adaptation and deliver benefits that will increase the resilience of people to the impacts of climate change. It is time to chart a sustainable recovery path that will ensure livelihoods for decades to come in harmony with the natural environment.
What we can do at International and National Level.
For open ocean and deep-sea areas, sustainability can be achieved only through increased international cooperation to
protect vulnerable habitats. Establishing comprehensive, effective and equitably managed systems of government-protected areas should be pursued to conserve biodiversity and ensure a sustainable future for the fishing industry.
Vote for measures that protect, restore and promote sustainable local forests and coastal area. And that begin to integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into local and national planning and development processes.
What can we do on the local level?
We can make ocean/forest-friendly choices when buying products or eating food derived from oceans or forests by selecting certified products and consume only what we need.
We must be respectful toward wildlife and only take part in ecotourism opportunities that are responsibly and ethically run in order to prevent
We should eliminate plastic usage as much as possible and organize and participate in beach clean-ups.
Reduce our carbon footprint.
Most importantly, we can spread the message about how important oceans and forests are and why we need to protect them.
The Local Peace Economy joins the United Nations in its call for a Decade of Action to transform the world by 2030. The 2030 Agenda for 17 Sustainable Development goals, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The spirit of human endeavor has demonstrated our shared ability to deliver the extraordinary. The Global Goals are our best hope-for people, for planet, for prosperity, for peace and for partnerships.
The Local Peace Economy calls on everyone everywhere to join us the UN and pledge: “We are resolved to a Decade of Action to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are necessary. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”
So, join us as we pledge to work urgently to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path of peace, that leaves no one behind.
To find out more about Goal #13, #14, #15 and the other Sustainable Development Goals, visit: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment