4 February 2019

#SDGsinAcademia: SDG Hub for Goal 15

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) carried out by the United Nations, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) series #SDGSinAcademia profiles the new SDG Hubs for each one of the Goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

4 February 2019 - This week our #SDGsinAcademia series features the University of Zanjan (Iran), a member institution of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), that has been chosen as the SDG Hub for Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.

About the Hub:

The University of Zanjan was founded in 1975 as the Agriculture and Animal Sciences Higher Education Institute.  The University of Zanjan is one the top comprehensive public universities in Iran and is committed to contributing to both scientific knowledge and the development of society.

The university has five main faculties, including Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities, Arts and Architecture and Science, and offers 156 undergraduate and postgraduate programs with 400 permanent and full time academic members who are dedicated to teaching, research and consultancies. At present, this university has 10,000 full time students.

What is this Hub doing about Goal 15? 

The University of Zanjan has been ranked among the top 47 greenest university campuses of the world and the greenest university of Iran, which follows sustainability indicators for infrastructure but also energy, research, education, waste management, water management and transportation.

The university is located in a semiarid region and over the last 40 years the university has expanded its tree cultivation to over 72 hectares, and its total vegetation area now covers over 94% of total campus area. The university has also increased and improved its investment in sustainability, smart buildings and water management in both buildings and vegetated areas, and has conducted a third of its research on topics like integrated watershed and management of biodiversity, natural resources and soil.

The institution conducts  research, education and extension activities on protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, and halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss. This research and education is done through departments dealing with agriculture, rural development, animal science, plant biology and other related issues.

The institution plans to restore biodiversity and actively support local wildlife following the ‘green management strategy’ which, in addition to various administrative processes and physical effects, entails a series of cultural engagements and educational activities in order to increase social awareness and common sensitivity. In addition, with a range of partners, the university has hosted national, regional and international events on issues directly connected to biodiversity.

The University of Zanjan is one of the steering committee members of the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking Network and it tries to enhance its scope to play an important role in innovation and technology research and development on different sustainability issues.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 reviews progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has an overview that presents highlights of progress and remaining gaps for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the latest available data, and examines some of the interconnections across Goals and targets.

This is the overview provided in the Report about Goal 15:

Protection of forest and terrestrial ecosystems is on the rise, and forest loss has slowed. That said, other facets of terrestrial conservation continue to demand accelerated action to protect biodiversity, land productivity and genetic resources and to curtail the loss of species.

  • The Earth’s forest areas continue to shrink, down from 4.1 billion hectares in 2000 (or 31.2 per cent of total land area) to about 4 billion hectares (30.7 per cent of total land area) in 2015. However, the rate of forest loss has been cut by 25 per cent since 2000–2005.

  • About one fifth of the Earth’s land surface covered by vegetation showed persistent and declining trends in productivity from 1999 to 2013, threatening the livelihoods of over one billion people. Up to 24 million square kilometers of land were affected, including 19 per cent of cropland, 16 per cent of forest land, 19 per cent of grassland and 28 per cent of rangeland.

  • Since 1993, the global Red List Index of threatened species has fallen from 0.82 to 0.74, indicating an alarming trend in the decline of mammals, birds, amphibians, corals and cycads. The primary drivers of this assault on biodiversity are habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, deforestation, unsustainable harvest and trade, and invasive alien species.

  • Illicit poaching and trafficking of wildlife continues to thwart conservation efforts, with nearly 7,000 species of animals and plants reported in illegal trade involving 120 countries.

  • In 2016, bilateral ODA in support of biodiversity totalled $7 billion, a decrease of 21 per cent in real terms from 2015.

The following resources provide general information about the SDGs:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide from the UN Library in Geneva listing resources 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, geographical regions and by authors, to facilitate searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.

  • This selection of tools is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.

  • This guide, entitled “Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals”, is intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.

  • SDSN also developed this guide, entitled “Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities”, to help universities, institutions of higher education and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs by providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.

You can learn more about the SDG Hubs at the UNAI website.  

Is your institution a member of UNAI and conducting activities and initiatives around Goal 15? Contact us at academicimpact@un.org to tell us about your work and let us connect your university with the SDG Hub! Working together we can make the 2030 Agenda a reality!