Special Issue: Insects and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Elsevier, 18th September 2020

To simultaneously reduce inequality, limit environmental impact of human activities and secure resilient livelihoods, the scientific research behind SDGs needs to consider not only the ecological integrity of life-supporting systems, but also the underlying socioeconomic stressors that affect their vulnerability in a changing world. Because insects and other invertebrates have profound and well-identified influences on many ecosystem services (e.g. pollination and biological control) and SDGs (e.g. crop pest and disease vectors), insect research and development have a great potential to address current global challenges. 

This special issue, from Current Opinion in Insect Science, makes a case for expanding the breadth of disciplines that are directly involved in new transdisciplinary entomological research and making fundamental changes in the way researchers work with decision makers to co-create knowledge that will address pressing development problems. In other words, insect science needs to promote a sustainability science approach.

The current scale, pace, and practice of science are not keeping up with the changes in Earth and human conditions. The lack of a sustainability science approach is partly the reason why we have hard times fixing global issues such as the COVID-19 or locust swarms. It is more than ever pressing to incorporate SDGs into science to solve some of today’s global socio-environmental challenges. The crises, regardless of whether they concern devastating locust swarms or pandemics, demand it.


Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 24-30, ISSN 2214-5745

Ecosystem services, the benefits nature provides to people, underpin all dimensions of human wellbeing. It is therefore crucial to integrate them into strategies for achieving SDGs, in particular those related to agriculture and health (SDGs 1, 2, 3).

Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 31-38, ISSN 2214-5745

Insects support life on land (SDG 15) and below water (SDG 14) and help to provide clean water (SDG 6). While many studies have quantified the ecological services provided by insects in the temperate zones, we still lack consolidated information in the tropical realm where insects are the most diverse and abundant.

Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 56-61, ISSN 2214-5745, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2020.05.014.

Viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, known as arboviruses, pose a significant threat to human life and are a major burden on many health systems around the world. This article explores how Wolbachia, an invertebrate endosymbiont, can be used as a sustainable strategy for arbovirus control in alignment with many of the SDGs, including goals 3, 8, 9, 10, and 17.

Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 62-70, ISSN 2214-5745, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2020.05.013.

Some of the greatest challenges for today's architecture are multifunctionality, energy saving and sustainability — problems that insects have partially solved during their evolution. From biomimetics in architecture design and materials, to decomposition of waste management and intelligent algorithms to reduce congestion, insects are an unlimited source of inspiration for innovations to advance SDGs 11 and 12.

Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 71-76, ISSN 2214-5745

Termites exert beneficial influences on ecosystem services, such as the development of sustainable agricultural systems in drylands and the resistance to environmental stress. However, this positive role is often overshadowed by their status as pests. This article advances our knowledge of the impact of termites on several sustainable development goals, including SDGs 1, 2, 3, 9, 11, 13 and 15.

Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 77-84, ISSN 2214-5745, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2020.05.012.

As a core component of sustainable intensification, biological control constitutes a tailor-made solution for the long-term management of both endemic and invasive pests, thereby contributing to SDGs 1, 2 and 15.

Current Opinion in Insect Science, 2020, ISSN 2214-5745

The best-documented example of a solution provided by insects to address the SDGs is the value chains of insect farming as feed and food. In countries recovering from conflict, agricultural development should focus on restoring food production by smallholder farmers (SDG 1 and 2), improving their socio-economic position (SDG 8), and contributing to peace (SDG 16).

Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 104-110, ISSN 2214-5745, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2020.05.018.

Contributing to SDGs 4 and 15, this article explores how using games for learning and education can be a viable strategy to advance entomological literacy and support the Global Goals by potentially lowering the barriers to accessibility, inclusion and participation.