IUCN SOS and the SDGs

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In an effort to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all people, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

Biodiversity is explicitly featured in 4 SDGs, but many others are directly linked to nature as
biodiversity at the centre of many economic activities
. Furthermore, nearly half of the human
population is directly dependent on biodiversity for their livelihoods and daily sustenance needs.

As such, given their broad and universal nature, IUCN Save Our Species ensures that the SDGs are
effectively implemented into conservation strategies.

Below are the SDGs most relevant to our work, and demonstrate how we are contributing to
tackling urgent issues such as climate change, poverty and food and water security.

SDG 3

Good health and well-being

Good health is a key component of sustainable development. Urbanisation, threats to the climate, as well as the prevalence of infectious diseases and poverty are all important factors that determine the health of a community. Nature and biodiversity are also key components, as many rural and coastal populations use natural resources for essential nutrients and medicinal purposes.

IUCN Save Our Species projects seek to tackle disease management, such as canine distemper in Ethiopian Wolves and African wild dogs. One of our projects in India uses the One Health approach, which is a collaborative effort between different sectors and disciplines that aims to achieve health benefits for humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Following a series of wildlife disease outbreaks in India that originated from domestic animals, several projects are working with veterinarians to immunize livestock, and reduce disease transmission to wild ungulate species that make up the tiger’s prey. Another project in Myanmar is developing a similar livestock vaccination programme with veterinarians and the local government in order to prevent seasonal livestock disease outbreaks from infecting tiger prey species such as pigs and deer.

SDG 6

Clean water and sanitation

40% of people around the world are impacted by water scarcity. However, pollution, deforestation and climate change are having destructive impacts on water supplies. This is causing an increasing number of countries to experience water stress, which may lead to severe conflicts in the future.

In order to reduce human pressures on the environment, reduce habitat degradation and improve the living conditions of local communities, some IUCN Save Our Species projects work closely with communities living close to fresh water ecosystems. In Central India for example, one of our projects provide toilet systems to some communities living in forest corridors.

SDG 7

Affordable and clean energy

Energy is used for many vital daily activities. However, hundreds of millions of people rely on fossil fuels which are responsible for creating drastic changes to our climate. To protect the environment, it is essential to promote and invest in clean and renewable energy. As the population continues to grow, so will the demand for cheap energy, and increasingly relying on fossil fuels will cause irreparable harm.

Projects in the IUCN Save Our Species portfolio improve the lives of different local communities worldwide by providing them with new infrastructures that facilitate their access to clean energy. For example, we have projects that provide LPG energy or biogas as fuel alternatives. Additionally, many other projects also provide efficient stoves that reduces dependence on wood.

SDG 8

Decent work and economic growth

Despite the number of workers living in extreme poverty drastically declining over the past 25 years, 689 million people were still living on less than $1.90 a day in 2018. In 2020, global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in 20 years due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As inequalities widen, job creation and the encouragement of entrepreneurship are essential to promote economic growth.

All IUCN Save Our Species projects extensively work with local communities around the world. Many of our projects provide job opportunities through direct conservation action, or even provide alternative sources of income via specific training meant to diversify and broaden the communities’ capacity. One of our projects in Uganda works with converted poachers, who turn the wire from wire snares into sculptures of the very animals they used to hunt, and which are sold all over the world. Another project in Uganda encourages local farmers to develop sustainable and alternative livelihoods by joining a social enterprise that produces organic coffee in support of threatened gorilla populations. In Tanzania, more than 1’260 women participated in a conservation project that involved bee-keeping, which allowed them to learn entrepreneurial skills and gain financial independence by selling the honey harvested from the beehives. Other projects also provide opportunities for youth employment and help communities develop sustainable tourism activities.

SDG 12

Responsible consumption and production

Unsustainable consumption habits are polluting and degrading the environment at alarming rates. In order to achieve economic growth and sustainable development, our ecological footprint needs to be urgently reduced. This can be achieved by not only changing how we consume goods, but also by how efficiently we manage our shared natural resources.

Some of the projects in our portfolio help local and indigenous communities effectively manage their natural resources in a sustainable way. This not only reduces human pressures on the environment, but also involves them in the conservation process, helps them build capacity and directly involve them in the maintenance of their own resources. It also helps us to capture traditional resource management practises and skills that would otherwise be lost.

SDG 13

Climate action

All countries are experiencing the drastic effects of climate change and if we do not act, global warming is going to cause irreversible harm. Ecosystems play a critical role, as they function as “natural carbon sinks” and regulate the world’s climate. For example, naturally evolved forests store between 30 and 50% more carbon than degraded forests. Furthermore, in terms of carbon-capture, one whale is worth thousands of trees. This is because each of them accumulates 33 tons of CO 2 throughout their lives and send it to the bottom of the ocean for centuries after they die.

All projects in our portfolio directly respond to the risks species and ecosystems face, many of which are directly related to climate change. Almost all projects under the SOS Lemurs initiative are involved in afforestation, reforestation and the creation or restauration of forest corridors. They also engage with local communities via awareness raising sessions, sometimes even using satellite images to show the damage being done to the forests in Madagascar. Some projects under the SOS Gibbons initiative are actively working with local communities to stop deforestation as much as possible. Alternatively, some grantees even conduct their own research into the current state of their local biodiversity, and engage with government and relevant stakeholders in order to incite policy change. In the long term, this helps further reduce habitat fragmentation and helps with the rehabilitation and protection of wild animals.

SDG 14

Life below water

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for food and income. However, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change are severely affecting marine, coastal and polar ecosystems. Many species living in these ecosystems are threatened, and how we manage this vital resource is essential to counterbalance the effects of climate change. Indeed, approximately 83% of global carbon cycle circulates through the oceans, and they have absorbed a third of CO 2 emissions produced by humans over the last 200 years.

A range of IUCN Save Our Species projects help species, habitats and people when it comes to marine life. They help with the implementation of new protected areas, as well as improving the management of already existing ones. This is achieved by ensuring the sustainability of marine
ecosystems, preventing overfishing and improving the law enforcement protection of coastal and marine wildlife. Ultimately, these efforts reduce the losses of wild animals from human killing, reduce habitat degradation and fragmentation, and reduce the pressure humans put on natural resources.

SDG 15

Life on land

13 million hectares of forests are lost every year, which is the equivalent of more than 24 million football fields. Furthermore, 3.6 billion hectares have already suffered from desertification that disproportionately affects poor communities. Out of more than 130’000 species in the IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species, 28% are threatened with extinction
, and species are becoming extinct one thousand times faster than the natural rate. In order to alleviate the damage caused by climate change and to support the livelihoods and well-being of people everywhere, the sustainable
management of terrestrial ecosystems has to be a priority. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity.

All IUCN Save Our Species projects directly and positively impact threatened species and seek to restore as much of their ecosystems as possible. We do so by improving law enforcement, disease management and the management of protected areas as well as by reducing human-wildlife conflict and over-exploitation of natural resources. We lead many activities, ranging from surveys and increased patrols using high end equipment, to afforestation, rewilding and raising awareness within local communities. Our projects operate in varied landscapes such as deserts, forests and mountains.

SDG 16

Peace, justice and strong institutions

Stability and peace are essential for sustainable development, and we cannot tackle environmental challenges without upstanding governance. Government institutions are directly involved in the management of natural resources, and their effective management has been directly linked to the
peace and prosperity of many regions all around. In order to reduce crime and conflict, public institutions at the local and the national level must be engaged with as much as possible.

Through our grantees, IUCN Save Our Species works in tandem with local governance: they provide technical advice on how to upgrade and strengthen environmental laws and policies that have an effect on biodiversity, which may result in newly established protected areas. They also help increase awareness among local communities about the urgent need for conservation in certain areas.