WSI EY Accelerating Environmental Sustainability Challenge, SDG 15WSI

The EY Accelerating Environmental Sustainability Challenge winners and finalists are announced! See the Results

Design a solution to help communities, governments, or companies protect, restore or promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

SDG 15: Life on Land is all about preserving Earth's biodiversity, land, and the life that depends on it. Terrestrial ecosystems, or environments on land, play multiple and often important roles in preserving life from providing habitats, purifying our water, guarding against natural disasters, and regulating the climate.

There are many aspects to SDG 15 such as:

  • Combatting desertification and land destroyed from weather events
  • Creating sustainable practices to manage forest and mountain ecosystems
  • Preserving natural habitats and animals and preventing the extinction of threatened species
  • Increases the financial resources of communities to sustainably manage and conserve these ecosystems

Conservation and biodiversity are critical to rebuilding terrestrial ecosystems. We all depend on the environment for food, water, and ecosystem services, such as climate regulation. Diminishing biodiversity, land degradation, and the loss of forests threatens the health of millions. Over 1.3 billion people globally depend on Earth's forests for their livelihood in myriad ways. Communities, governments, academic institutions, philanthropies, and even private sector companies, whether in urban or rural settings, can all play a part in accelerating environmental sustainability for all.

How does SDG 15 affect me?

  • In cities, the growth of urban land area and encroachment on terrestrial ecosystems has directly led to habitat loss for many animals, erosion of soil necessary for plants life, and a loss of natural protection in urban environments. Supporting urban forest projects that advance SDG 15 can help mitigate these impacts by making cities cooler, reducing air pollution, and offering new habitats for animals.
  • In more rural areas, SDG 15 is necessary for the communities that rely on agricultural for food and income. In Afghanistan, where over 80% of the population lives in a rural area, degraded land and biodiversity loss of crops threatens the ability of these communities to sustain themselves.
  • Everywhere, natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and landslides caused by our impact on the environment cost the world over US$300 billion per year.

Your challenge is to come up with an idea for a product or service that can help accelerate environmental sustainability in your community or areas affected by SDG 15. Solutions can range from driving the adoption of urban agriculture and reforestation to dismantling barriers to environmental justice, like the development of green spaces in urban areas.

Not sure how to dig in? Take a closer look at how these changemakers are tackling SDG 15 to secure a sustainable future for all:

  • Idas Valley Community, a community organization near Cape Town, South Africa restores indigenous vegetation and promotes outdoor recreation to uplift its tourist industry and generate employment opportunities.
  • Trees for Cities, transforms urban environments by planting native trees and giving young people the opportunity to access green spaces while also creating climate resilient environments.
  • ElSa (short for elephant savior), is a low-cost software that analyzes movement patterns of humans and elephants to protect elephants threatened by poaching.
  • Forested Foods, operating in three forests within Ethiopia's Southwestern Afromontane Region, works with small farmers and forest communities to grow, process, and market their products.
  • SeriousShea, avoids the use of wood in the production of shea butter by providing innovative processing centers for women and sustainable forestry in Burkina Faso.


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