8 August 2018

#SDGsinAcademia: Goal 15

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals carried out by the United Nations, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is presenting a weekly series of articles on #SDGSinAcademia that highlights the importance of higher education in achieving the Goals. Featuring additional sources for use by faculty and students alike, this series is intended to inspire action on the SDGs and showcase activities and initiatives of UNAI member institutions.

8 August 2018 - This week we are featuring in our #SDGsinAcademia series Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss


  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements 
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • 15.3 By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
  • 15.4 By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development 
  • 15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species 
  • 15.6 Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed 
  • 15.7 Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products
  • 15.8 By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species 
  • 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts 
  • 15.A Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems 
  • 15.B Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation 
  • 15.C Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

What are UNAI member institutions doing about Goal 15? Here are some examples:

George Mason University (United States) hosts the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center devoted to understanding the links among terrorism, transnational crime and corruption, and to teach, research, train and help formulate policy on these critical issues. One of its major projects was a research aimed at analyzing the transnational criminal networks that are responsible for the surge in rhino poaching from South Africa in recent years, and to support South African authorities and law enforcement globally in directing their efforts against transnational horn smuggling networks.

The Universidad Autónoma Chapingo (Mexico) organizes an annual reforestation campaign in areas affected by wildfires at the local level. The institution actively uses social media and partnerships with civil society and community organizations to attract participants, mainly college students even from other Mexican universities. Experts from the Division of Forest Sciences of the institution advice on how and when the reforestation activities must take place. The university has also recently developed the Programme of Plots in Natural Resources Management for the Eco-Development of Communities.

The University of Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago) as part of the activities to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification, hosted a lecture on sustainable development, given by the Capacity-Building Officer of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification's Secretariat, Richard Byron-Cox. The expert also facilitated the following discussion for students from around the country on issues of land degradation, climate change and biodiversity protection. In the Caribbean, unsustainable land management practices are causing soil degradation and damage of natural habitats.

The University of Barcelona (Spain) offers a Master's programme in Biodiversity for graduates in the areas of bio-sciences, environmental sciences and related areas but also environmental consultants and the general public. It has two specializations, one on Evolutionary Biology and another one on Conservation Biology and Biodiversity Management. The goal of the programme is to have an advanced training of multidisciplinary nature towards research on biodiversity, conservation and management. The programme also offers the students a wide range of highly specific optional subjects.

The University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) hosts the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research which aims to provide fundamental science, social science and also cultural research of direct relevance to forested landscapes anywhere in the world. It has been set up among other things to provide a step-change in the understanding on how forests will respond to future increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Two fundamental and interrelated challenges that the institute addresses are the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands and the resilience of trees to invasive pests and diseases. 

The University of Pretoria (South Africa) hosts the Centre for Wildlife Management being its mission to do effective postgraduate training and research, so as to provide competent manpower for the conservation, sustainable utilization and management of wildlife, especially that of southern Africa. Members of the Centre are committed to developing a greater understanding of wildlife and its management and conservation through the training of scientists and the pursuit of primary research in aspects of wildlife biology. It offers a Master's programme and also a PhD programme on Wildlife Management.

The University of Zanjan (Iran) has conducted almost a third of its research on sustainabilty topics such as integrated biodiversity management, integrated watershed and natural resources management, and, soil management. The institution has also plans to restore biodiversity and support local wildlife within the framework of the concept of "green management strategy" which, in addition to administrative process and physical effects, covers a whole range of cultural engagements and educational activities to increase social awareness and common sensitivity, including faculty, staff and students.

Seoul National University (Republic of Korea) has a Department of Forest Scieces aimed to identify and resolve important problems in biology, conservation, management, and utilization of forest resources and to disseminate research results to the scientific community, resource user-grouhe goal of the department is to identify and resolve important problems in biology, conservation, management, and utilization of forest resources and to disseminate research results to the scientific community, resource user-groups, and the general public. It offers training as well as research opportunities.

The University of Tokyo (Japan) established the University of Tokyo Forests programme in order to contribute to education and research of forest science and forestry in Japan. The programme owns seven forests in various parts in Japan covering an area of 32,300ha ranging from the subarctic zone to the warm temperate zone. Research of the University of Tokyo is not only carried out to elucidate the mechanisms of forest ecosystems and public functions, but also to evaluate the social and cultural relationship between forest and human being. The education programme is designed for graduate students.

Southern Cross University (Australia) hosts the Forest Research Centre aimed to investigate the ecology of native forests both in Australia and overseas, as well as studying how native forests and plantations can sustainably produce wood products, environmental services and carbon. The research staff in the Centre have broad and varied interests but are particularly focused, among others on: Tropical and subtropical forestry and agroforestry; domestication of native tree species; computer modelling for forest management and decision-support systems; ecology and management of forest birds, marsupials and amphibians.

Here you can take a look to a selection of the Activity Reports submitted by UNAI member institutions.


The following resources can help improving your knowledge and understanding about Goal 15 in particular and also about the SDGs in general:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide made by the United Nations Library in Geneva listing resources about the SDGs in general and about each one of the Goals, including books and articles (some of which are fully available on line free of charge), UN documents such as resolutions and reports and additional resources.
  • The SDG Fund has created this online library featuring over 1,000 online publications. The publications are categorized by the Goals they represent, by geographical regions they relate to and by authors, to facilitate easy searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.
  • This is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers a selection of tools such as concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.
  • This is a guide entitled Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.
  • This guide entitled Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities was also developed by the SDSN to help universities, higher education institutions and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs highlighting the important role universities have in implementing the SDGs through their teaching, research, operations and leadership, and providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.
  • This guide entitled Sustainable Development Goals - Human Response Alignments features the human element of change and the human response corresponding to each of the SDGs in order to quicken the global conversation about vital issues and to encourage the movement that supports the vision of the SDGs.

Land Degradation Neutral World

Land Degradation Neutral World
SDG 15: Life on Land. On 25 September 2015, 193 countries came together in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. SDG 15 calls for the protection, restoration and sustainable management of land-based ecosystems.