Iberdrola group protects, restores and promotes sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems in all the countries in which it operates, directly contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: life on land. In this context, the company takes biodiversity conservation into account when planning and developing all its actions.
Goal 15: Life on land. Video voice transcription (Spanish version) [PDF] External link, opens in new window.
SDG 15 seeks to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, halt and reverse land degradation, combat desertification and halt biodiversity loss.
Almost 31 % of the world's surface is covered with forests. Forests provide humans with the essential elements needed for survival: air, food and water. They are home to more than 80 % of all terrestrial species, including animals, plants and insects and more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their subsistence. Yet humankind cuts down 13 million hectares of forest each year.
Despite efforts to achieve the goals for this objective, the report on the progress of fulfilling the UN 2021 SDGs does not offer good prospects and highlights that terrestrial ecosystem conservation does not tend to be sustainable, with species continuing to disappear at an alarming rate and protected species on the way to extinction.
Deforestation and habitat encroachment not only deprive people of essential nutrients, they are the main sources of transmission for emerging infectious diseases, including COVID-19. 75 % of emerging diseases (including bird flu and Ebola) are transmitted from wildlife to people. This occurs when humans invade natural habitats and disrupt ecosystems. Crime against wildlife, poaching, and illegal animal trafficking — such as the pangolin, which is one of the main suspects in transmitting coronavirus from bats to people — not only threaten the health and biodiversity of the ecosystem, they can also disrupt human health, economic development and global security, as is happening now in the current pandemic.
It is estimated that more than two billion hectares of the earth's surface are degraded, directly affecting the well-being of approximately 3.2 billion people, driving species to extinction and intensifying climate change.
The global forest area, as can be seen, continues to decline, although at a slightly slower rate than in previous decades: from 2015 to 2020, the annual deforestation rate was 10 million hectares, compared to 12 million hectares in 2010 to 2015. At the global level, forests went from occupying 31.9 % of the Earth's surface area (2000) to 31.2 % (2020). However, although forest disappearance remains high, the 2020 —the latest available to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)—, data show that forests in protected areas increased or remained stable.Currently, of the 4,060 million hectares of forest in the world, more than half are subject to protection plans.
But biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate and human activity is making ecosystems more fragile and less resilient. The risk of species extinction worsened by 10 % in the last three decades worldwide. Currently, more than 38,500 species are in danger of extinction.
In an attempt to reverse the situation, countries are trying to implement social principles to protect biodiversity and ecosystems, including public awareness work. In early 2020, 123 countries committed to setting voluntary targets to achieve land degradation neutrality.This would improve the diversity and well-being of millions of people and would also support the fight against climate change.
Reversing this reality has become a major international goal. Protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable terrestrial ecosystem use, sustainable forest management, combating desertification and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss is therefore SDG 15 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, approved in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda.
SEE INFOGRAPHIC: Keys to understanding world deforestation [PDF] External link, opens in new window.
The specific targets set for 2030 are: