SDG 15 Life on Land: Urgency is Growing, Progress Remains Bleak

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Every two years, SustainAbility with GlobeScan, tracks progress, according to the world’s leading experts on sustainable development, on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our 2019 Survey results reveals some positive developments with regard to increased awareness by non-profit, government and private sector organizations of the urgency to address biodiversity issues but also recognition that so far progress has been slow and inadequate.

More than 450 experienced professionals from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa responded to our 2019 survey. The report draws comparisons between findings and data we collected in our 2017 SDG survey. Progress made since 2005, when we first asked our pool of expert respondents to comment on global progress on sustainable development, is also examined.

The survey asked 450 leading international sustainable development experts from NGOs, governments, businesses and other organizations to rank progress made on each SDG so far. Only 4 percent believe that the global community is making good progress on SDG 15: Life on Land, a number which has not changed in the last two years. From the seventeen SDGs, Life on Land remains among the three goals that are making the slowest progress, along with SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities and SDG 14: Life Below Water

On the positive side, there has been growing recognition of the urgency to tackle biodiversity loss and improve conservation efforts. Life on Land is seen as the third most urgent SDG for the global community to address. It is particularly encouraging that SDG 15 is perceived as the second-most urgent goal by governments (after Climate Action) and the third-most urgent SDG by the private sector. Especially in the Asia-Pacific region, experts recognize the magnitude of threats to biodiversity, where Life on Land is seen as the second-most urgent goal to address.

How would you rate society’s performance to date in having achieved progress toward each one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The trend of growing awareness is also supported by data on the attention that Life on Land is receiving within organizations. More than 13 percent of our polled organizations said that they are working to advance Life on Land, an increase from 7 percent two years ago. Among government respondents, SDG 15 was the second most frequently mentioned SDG after Climate Action.

Which three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do you think require the most urgent action? 

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