Biodiversity and ecosystems

Biodiversity and ecosystems, encompassing the vast variety of life on Earth and the natural systems they inhabit, are fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their importance is acknowledged explicitly in several SDGs due to their critical role in maintaining environmental balance and supporting human life and well-being.

SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land) are directly focused on the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, respectively. These goals recognize the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the vital services ecosystems provide, such as habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and soil formation. The preservation and restoration of ecosystems like forests, wetlands, and coral reefs are essential for maintaining biodiversity, which in turn supports ecological resilience and the sustenance of human life.

The role of biodiversity and ecosystems in achieving SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) is significant. The variety of life forms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, underpins agricultural productivity. Pollinators, soil organisms, and genetic diversity of crops are all crucial for food production and agricultural resilience. Ecosystems support agriculture not just in terms of crop yield but also in sustaining the natural resources like soil and water, upon which agriculture depends.

Similarly, SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) is closely tied to the health of ecosystems. Natural habitats such as forests and wetlands play a key role in filtering and purifying water, maintaining the water cycle, and regulating water flow. This natural filtration process is vital for providing clean drinking water and supporting sanitation systems.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are also crucial for SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being). Natural environments regulate diseases by supporting a balance among species that, in turn, can control pest and disease outbreaks. Additionally, a vast number of medical discoveries, including medicines and treatments, have their origins in biological resources, underscoring the potential of biodiversity in contributing to human health and well-being.

Moreover, biodiversity and ecosystems play a significant role in addressing climate change, linking to SDG 13 (Climate Action). Ecosystems such as forests and oceans are major carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Protecting and restoring these ecosystems are vital strategies for climate change mitigation. Additionally, healthy ecosystems provide crucial services for climate change adaptation, such as protecting against extreme weather events and helping communities adjust to changing environmental conditions.

However, achieving these goals requires addressing threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, such as habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, and invasive species. It also involves balancing the needs of human development with environmental conservation, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are integral to achieving multiple SDGs. Their conservation and sustainable use not only benefit the environment but are essential for food security, water purity, human health, and combating climate change. The protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems are therefore crucial steps towards sustainable development and ensuring the well-being of current and future generations.

This Health Policy paper supports SDG 3, 15, and 16 by highlighting how climate change and other human-induced environmental changes, such as loss of biodiversity and air pollution, disproportionately affect the health of minoritised people globally.
Show effects of wildfires on the vocal communcication of an iconic threatened species
Solar panels in a field
Recognising our customers' exceptional work to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals
This study supports SDG 14 by uncovering how biotas responded to global change during the early Paleocene greenhouse mode.
This paper explores perceived barriers and enablers for engagement in a new aquaculture activity, using an example of ‘technology-push’ towards seaweed farming in coastal villages in Samoa.
This freely accessible Special collection highlights journal articles and book chapters focussing on nature and biodiversity in celebration of the 2023 RELX SDG Inspiration Day on June 13th where thought leaders, corporate representatives, investors, government and NGOs explore issues, practical engagement and ideas in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
In this episode of the “World We Want” podcast series, the editors of the new book Oceans and Human Health: Opportunities and Impacts talk to Márcia Balisciano about about the fascinating connections between the ocean and human health, spanning from wellbeing and mental health, to medicinal resources, plastics, food and nutrition, and the health risks of polluted oceans.
To mark the 50th Anniversary of World Environment Day on 5 June 2023, Elsevier proudly presents a curated list of publicly available journal articles and book chapters in support of this year's theme “Solutions to Plastics Pollution”. Please share and download.
This article advances SDG # 13, 14, and 15 by arguing that ecosystem integrity is neglected but important for climate adaptation goals, and shows how linking ecosystem integrity to climate, biodiversity and sustainable development goals is crucial for optimal outcomes.
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