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SDG 15 – Life on Land

How KfW is committed to biodiversity

Nature is both the origin and habitat of people, animals and plants. Healthy, diverse ecosystems provide us with air, water and raw materials of all types. They form the basis of our existence and are a prerequisite for economic development. This is why the SDGs are not just directed at people; the relationship between people, animals and nature must be symbiotic to ensure quality of life for all. It is now known that the two SDGs, Life on Land (SDG15) and Life Below Water (SDG14), are considered particularly important levers. They act as a catalyst – or vice versa, as an obstacle – for the remaining SDGs and are therefore considered the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole.

Keeping nature intact to the greatest extent possible or restoring it is also very important for food security, for example, because birds and insects are needed for pollination of plants. But it’s not just the pollinators that are disappearing; farmland diversity is also declining. Nine species, including rice, maize and wheat, now dominate global agriculture. However, diversity in farmland is important; it can make agriculture more resilient to pests and help to develop new varieties that may be better able to cope with the changing conditions caused by climate change.

Nature also plays a decisive role in climate protection. Forests, peatlands and soils are natural carbon sinks that can help to effectively reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPCC and IPBES), plants and oceans naturally absorb around half of the carbon emitted by humans. When forests are cleared, not only are species and ecosystem services lost, but vast amounts of climate-damaging greenhouse gases are also released. Preserving biodiversity, protecting endangered animal species and terrestrial ecosystems, and no longer destroying forests, but managing them sustainably, therefore also have a vital benefit for the climate.

After all, nature is important for our health – the coronavirus pandemic clearly demonstrated that. The outbreak of the pandemic was also a consequence of the global exploitation of nature. Around 70% of all emerging infectious diseases like Ebola, Zika and influenza are zoonoses (diseases that are transmitted from animal to human and vice versa). According to IPBES figures, there are still around 1.7 million unidentified viruses in mammals and birds, of which a significant proportion could be transmissible to humans. As more intact ecosystems are destroyed, there are more opportunities for closer contact with these pathogens, which increases the likelihood of transmission.

Biodiversity is therefore vital (to survival) in many respects and must be preserved as a matter of urgency. At the moment, however, the opposite is true. Species loss is accelerating rapidly; today it is at least 100 times faster than it would be without human intervention. Experts are already speaking of a new mass extinction. Between 1970 and 2016, the world's population of wild animals – mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles – decreased by 68% on average. And this loss continues unabated. According to IPBES projections, of an estimated eight million species, one million face extinction in the coming decades.

KfW is committed to reversing this trend, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the new “Global Biodiversity Framework”. Conserving nature and protecting biodiversity is an issue of central importance for the future for humanity. Specifically, three inter-related crises need to be resolved all at once: limiting climate change to a tolerable level, combating hunger and achieving security of food supply, preventing and containing pandemics, and preserving biodiversity.

Germany is strongly committed to the conservation of biological diversity, and, through the work of KfW, is now one of the largest donors worldwide. It takes care to include indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC), as their livelihoods depend heavily on nature. At the same time, they are often also particularly good “guardians” of nature. This involvement is done, for example, through active participation in local decisions or through complaint mechanisms so that they can contact someone if their concerns are not sufficiently taken into account.

In 2021, KfW almost doubled its commitment volume for projects that contribute to achieving SDG 15 compared to the previous year. With over EUR 1.3 billion, 125 terrestrial protected areas with an area of close to 105 million hectares are protected or sustainably managed, which will benefit around 750,000 people. A good 2.2 million hectares of forest can be reforested and sustainably used; this benefits around 490,000 people. KfW also supports agricultural resource management measures, which facilitate more sustainable use of more than 415,000 hectares of agricultural land. More than 1.5 million people benefit from these and other measures to improve agriculture. KfW cooperates not only with partner countries in this work, but also with major nature conservation organisations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and with non-governmental organisations like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (ZGF). They all jointly pursue the goal of protecting and preserving natural habitats as extensively as possible.

“Our rights should be respected”

Indigenous populations are safeguarding a large part of the essential biodiversity on Earth but very often have no land titles. The Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Joan Carling from the Philippines, says her peoples should finally be recognized as partners.

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„Two crises, one solution“

Short film about climate change and biodiversity loss using the example of Madidi National Park in Bolivia.

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KfW's contribution to SDG 15

  • Lioness

    Nature conservation

    How local communities care for protected areas

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  • Natural rainforest

    Forest monitoring

    Forest conservation in Indonesia

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  • coffee beans

    Sustainable resource use

    One fund - two continents

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  • Presenation at DFF


    Development Finance Forum 2022 on the twofold crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change

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"We need personalities and a narrative"

Interview with former Minister and Vice President of the Banque de France, Sylvie Goulard

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Cocoa farming or forest conservation?

Cocoa farmer Don Albino in the Colombian Amazon shows that both are possible

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"We permanently miss the red light".

Interview with marine biologist and co-chair of an IPCC working group, Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner

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