Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People

Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People

the Netherlands - 09 December, 2019

Forests provide vital ecosystem services crucial to human well-being and sustainable development, and have an important role to play in achieving the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Little attention, however, has yet focused on how efforts to achieve the SDGs will impact forests and forest-related livelihoods, and how these impacts may, in turn, enhance or undermine the contributions of forests to climate and development.

Understanding the potential impacts of SDGs on forests and forest-related livelihoods and development as well as the related trade-offs and synergies is crucial for the efforts undertaken to reach these goals. It is especially important for reducing potential negative impacts and to leverage opportunities to create synergies that will ultimately determine whether comprehensive progress towards the SDGs will be made.

IUFRO-WFSE_julkaisun-kansi-278x400.jpgA recent publication by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations’ Special Project World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO WFSE) discusses the conditions that influence how SDGs are implemented and prioritized, and provides a systematic, multidisciplinary global assessment of interlinkages among the SDGs and their targets, increasing understanding of potential synergies and unavoidable trade-offs between goals from the point of view of forests and people.

Read also: Policy Brief Harnessing forests for the Sustainable Development Goals: Building synergies and mitigating trade-offs

The assessment was undertaken by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations’ Special Project World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO WFSE). It involved 120 scientists and experts from 60 different universities and research and development institutions as well as 38 scientists who acted as peer reviewers of the different SDG chapters. The development and publication of the book and policy brief were made possible by the financial contributions of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Natural Resources Institute Finland.

Bas Louman from Tropenbos International was the lead author of Chapter 13 - SDG 13: Climate Action – Impacts on Forests and People. Climate change causes changes in forests, their ecological functions and ecosystem services. Many of these changes will negatively impact people, plants, animals and micro-organisms that depend on forests. SDG 13 aims to contribute to the Paris Agreement goals of restricting warming to less than 2oC and increasing resilience of vulnerable communities, thus potentially having positive impacts on forests and people. Current commitments, however, are insufficient to reach these goals. Better forest and land management can contribute up to 20 per cent of the Paris goals, while increasing community and ecosystem resilience, and help bridge this gap. Strong synergies between SDG 13 and forests can drive investment in sustainable forest management, forest restoration and forest conservation. However, achieving these synergies is challenged by unsustainable forest exploitation and pressures to develop land for agriculture, urban areas and infrastructure. Maximising potential synergies between forests and SDG 13 requires long-term finance and local collaboration, but currently only 3 per cent of climate finance is dedicated to forest actions, and much less is used for local implementation. Improved forest management and conservation can be achieved through more efficient use of the finance, increased investment from public and private sectors and stronger commitment to local actions.

The book is published by Cambridge University Press and available as Open Access via Cambridge Core

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