SDG 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

Photo: UN Photo/Logan Abassi


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.
  • Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • 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.
  • 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.
SDG 15: Life on land

Globally, forests have been cut at devastatingly fast rates, often for profits that bypass local communities. The felling of trees reduces carbon dioxide absorption and biodiversity, cutting links in the intricate web of life. Land use practices have led to land degradation and desertification, as have droughts, including those linked to climate change.

Credit: IUCN, EGI and UN Women

All of these patterns undercut resources that sustain environmental health and human well-being. Women can be among the first and most affected, often charged with making up shortfalls in food and fuel. Their limited ownership of land reduces their capacity to adapt to losses or make decisions about how land is used—for the benefit of themselves and the environment.

Despite these constraints, women play a critical role as stewards of the land, comprising much of the agricultural labour force in developing countries [1]. They may be primary collectors of resources such as wood for fuel, as well as wild foods and herbs for medicines. Their knowledge about traditional practices that are inherently sustainable, however, is often excluded from decisions about sustainable ecosystems.

This is a loss in terms of prospects for sustainable ecosystem use, which also depends on gender equality in all other dimensions—access to land, livelihoods and natural resources, and a say in how they are shared. Women, and indigenous women in particular, need to be included in decision-making on ecosystem use at all levels, as essential players in preserving our planet.


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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) SDG 15: Life on land SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions SDG 14: Life below water SDG 13: Climate action SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities SDG 10: Reduced inequalities SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation SDG 5: Gender equality SDG 4: Quality education SDG 3: Good health and well-being SDG 2: Zero hunger SDG 1: No poverty Women and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
From where I stand

Souhad Azennoud

“In our mountain village here in Kissane, in Morocco's Taounate Province, we can see the impact of climate change. People notice it and say, ‘Before, the wheat was higher and didn't need to be sprayed’...”

SDG 15: Life on land

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Maria Judite da Silva Ballerio, of the Guajajajara community, Maranhão, Brazil, spoke to UN Women about the role indigenous women have to play in achieving SDG 15, on preserving the environment, forests and ecosystems: "Given our traditional knowledge and the mother-daughter relationship that indigenous women have with land, women have a key role to play. They preserve and know how to treat Mother Earth; they know how to extract what we need from her in a sustainable way, be it for health, culture or survival. The SDGs have a direct impact on these women, just as they have so much to offer, through their traditional knowledge, to help achieve the SDGs."

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