GOAL 15 – LIFE ON LAND
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.
We are losing wildlife and biodiversity at an alarming rate. A study released earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 83% of wild mammals have been killed, and of all the birds left in the world, 70% are farmed chickens and other poultry. A third of the earth’s land is already severely degraded, and climate-sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs and glaciers are rapidly shrinking. Because of this, it is critical that political leaders address the key drivers of biodiversity loss head on: pollution, over-exploitation, climate change and habitat loss.
In terms of habitat loss, pollution and climate change, 25% percent of the global land surface is dedicated to the production of grain to feed livestock, which is also a key driver of deforestation; a major polluter of air, soil, and waterways; and one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. Solutions must be developed to change consumption patterns towards more environmentally-, biodiversity- and wildlife-friendly methods of production to reduce and reverse these impacts.
In terms of overexploitation, the trade and poaching of wildlife is driving species to extinction in nearly every country. This must be firmly addressed by governments by increasing enforcement efforts and cross-border partnerships to dismantle criminal networks, reducing demand for trafficked products and tackling enablers of wildlife crime like corruption and other related financial crimes.
Lastly, many environmental initiatives refer to wild animals as resources to be utilized. However, science is now illuminating that animals possess sentience: the ability to experience states of well-being. This knowledge carries with it an ethical responsibility to protect the welfare of wild animals to the furthest extent practicable. Programs encouraging consumptive use of nature, without balancing use against actual human need, must be reevaluated, especially the application of “sustainable use” to sentient, living animals.