Global decadal assessment of life below water and on land

Elsevier, iScience Volume 26, Issue 4, 21 April 2023, 106420
Yuqian Zhang, Yingjie Li, Jianguo Liu

The United Nations (UN) has adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aiming to provide human welfare and conserve the planet, now and into the future. Two of the SDGs directly address biodiversity conservation and sustainable development – SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land). Although the UN has issued annual reports on SDGs, the reports did not consistently reveal the progress over time, because of inconsistent methods such as estimation based on different indicators across years. Our research examined the dynamics of the same 10 indicators for SDGs 14 and 15 between 2010 and 2020. Results indicate that the overall SDG 14 scores had a small growth between 2010 and 2020, whereas the substantial increase in SDG 15 scores spotlighted the conservation efforts and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem services, especially in countries with biodiversity hotspots. Globally, there was more progress in terms of SDG 15 scores during 2015–2020 than during 2010–2015 (before the UN adopted SDGs in 2015). Surprisingly, SDG 14 score had smaller progress during 2015–2020 than during 2010–2015. Special attention should be given to low-income countries lagging in sustainable development performance when implementing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.