Sustainable Development Goal 15

Life on Land

Nearly a third of the globe is covered by forests, which are home to 80 per cent of all land species of animals, plants, and insects. Forests and agricultural systems sustain our air, water, and food, but extreme deforestation and land degradation are threatening vital biodiversity and the billions of people who depend on the land for their livelihoods.

UNU’s terrestrial research examines the intersections of ecosystem change and resource use to find sustainable human–environment solutions. Our work in the Mekong River Delta, for example, is guiding agricultural innovation for local farmers in response to the impacts of climate change and saltwater intrusion. Our land restoration training programme provides students from developing countries with practical education on degradation and desertification, land restoration, and sustainable land management.


Maiko Nishi


“Our life depends on land for subsistence and quality of life. Humans living in harmony with nature on land is a critical step forward for a sustainable world. My research at UNU explores how people act on their subjectivities associated with land, and how land-use planning helps improve human well-being.”

Juan Pastor-Ivars


“Human domination over nature crystallizes in cities, where nature is a catalyst for achieving the SDGs. My research aims to find evidence of environmental and human benefits of urban nature, providing inclusive, educational, and citizen practices to conserve and create urban nature. These new green commons pursue to restore kinship with nature — a world where biocultural diversity coexists peacefully.”

Gerald Forkuor


“Land is a critical resource that provides food, fresh water, and other ecosystem services to millions of vulnerable populations. But human and climatic impacts are increasingly rendering land unproductive. I am passionate about producing knowledge that assists rural populations to enhance land productivity in a sustainable manner for improved food security and livelihoods.”


International Satoyama Initiative

This project furthers understanding of landscape approaches to biodiversity and human well-being. It hosts the secretariat of the 258-member International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative and draws on the partnership's diverse evidence base in contributing to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and related global policy agendas.


The VALE project supports countries in implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) and is developing an innovative method to derive earth observation-based information products for selected indicators and validate them based on an existing database on flood loss and damage in Ecuador.


The CLIMAFRI project is reducing current and future flood risk and developing adaptation strategies for the transboundary water catchment of Togo and Benin. The project is considering climate change through an integration of science-based data and knowledge from local stakeholders and communities.