SDG 15: Life On Land
1. EU Programmes likely to be relevant for libraries
Final Circular Economy package
On 4 March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges to shaping our economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimised. In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan, which includes measures that will helpstimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.
The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and a revised legislative proposal on waste.
Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:
- A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2035;
- A common EU target for recycling 70% of packaging waste by 2030
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural development (EAFRD)
The EU’s rural development policy helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Frequently called "the second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it complements the system of direct payments to farmers and measures to manage agricultural markets (the so-called "first pillar"). Rural Development policy shares a number of objectives with other European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
EU priorities are:
1) fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas;
2) enhancing the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promoting innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management;
3) promoting food chain organisation, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture;
4) restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry;
5) promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors;
6) promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas.
Common agricultural policy – market measures. School fruit, vegetables and milk scheme
The scheme supports the distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk to schools across the European Union (EU). It is part of a wider programme of education about European agriculture and the benefits of healthy eating.
EU Forestry Policy
The EU has close to 182 million hectares of forests covering 43% of its land area and these forest areas are one of Europe's most important renewable resources. EU forests are exceptionally diverse, with a large variety of forest types, characteristics and ownership structures. They provide multiple benefits for society and the economy whilst being a major source of biodiversity.
EU Cohesion Policy - Environment and resource efficiency
The EU Structural and Investment Funds help to protect and preserve natural assets such as water, nature and biodiversity, clean air or raw materials. It includes investing in the needed infrastructures for wastewater treatment and waste management (such as recycling), but also measures to monitor the state of the environment or developing green infrastructure. In doing so the environment represents a source of economic growth and new job opportunities.
Regarding water management, the largest share of the available budget goes to wastewater treatment infrastructure in Member States that still need to fulfil basic needs in this area. Further investments contributes to the availability and security of drinking water services, and to water management and conservation including water reuse.
Environment Action Programme
The European Union has put in place a broad range of environmental legislation. As a result, air, water and soil pollution has significantly been reduced. Chemicals legislation has been modernised and the use of many toxic or hazardous substances has been restricted. Today, EU citizens enjoy some of the best water quality in the world and over 18% of EU's territory has been designated as protected areas for nature.
However, many challenges persist and these must be tackled together in a structured way.
The 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) will be guiding European environment policy until 2020. In order to give more long-term direction it sets out a vision: "In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society."
It identifies three key objectives:
- to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital
- to turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy
- to safeguard the Union's citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing
Under the broad theme of information & communication technologies the ERDF and EAFRD invest in a range of investment priorities and union priorities to enhance access to and use and quality of information and communication technologies (ICT). Under other themes the ESF through investment in digital literacy, education and training also contributes to human capital development.
Clean energy for all Europeans
The Commission wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition, not only adapt to it. For this reason the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU's economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. The proposals have three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers.
Consumers are active and central players on the energy markets of the future. Consumers across the EU will in the future have a better choice of supply, access to reliable energy price comparison tools and the possibility to produce and sell their own electricity. Increased transparency and better regulation give more opportunities for civil society to become more involved in the energy system and respond to price signals.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU and help stop global biodiversity loss by 2020. It reflects the commitments taken by the EU in 2010, within the international Convention on Biological Diversity. On 16 December 2015, the Environmental Council adopted Conclusions on the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. On 2 February 2016, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
6 targets are envisaged:
By 2020, the assessments of species and habitats protected by EU nature law show better conservation or a secure status for 100 % more habitats and 50 % more species.
By 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems.
By 2020, the conservation of species and habitats depending on or affected by agriculture and forestry, and the provision of their ecosystem services show measurable improvements.
By 2015, fishing is sustainable. By 2020, fish stocks are healthy and European seas healthier. Fishing has no significant adverse impacts on species and ecosystems.
By 2020, invasive alien species are identified, priority species controlled or eradicated, and pathways managed to prevent new invasive species from disrupting European biodiversity.
By 2020, the EU has stepped up its contribution to avert global biodiversity loss.
The EU Ecolabel is a label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their life-cycle: from raw material extraction, to production, distribution and disposal. The EU Ecolabel promotes the circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and CO2 during the manufacturing process. The EU Ecolabel criteria also encourages companies to develop products that are durable, easy to repair and recycle.
European Research Area
The European Research Area (ERA) is a unified research area open to the world and based on the internal market. The ERA enables free circulation of researchers, scientific knowledge and technology.
Six priorities of ERA:
- more effective national research systems
- optimal transnational cooperation and competition, including optimal transnational cooperation and competition and research infrastructures
- an open labour market for researchers
- gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
- optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge including knowledge circulation and open access
- international cooperation
2. SDG15 - oriented projects and Best Practices
Activities in libraries on biodiversity should start with the promotion of the Convention on Biological Diversity dedicated to promoting sustainable development, which was signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
It is a common practice in libraries to set up collections dedicated to biodiversity. Workshops on gardens, nature ecology and sustainable development are being associated. In France, this has been the case, for instance, at the Médiathèque in Pézilla-la-Rivière (Perpignan region).
Another project - “Ernte Deine Stadt” (Harvest your city) – clearly illustrates the more advanced concept of Green Library at the Stadtbibliothek Bad Oldesloe, with the local library becoming a urban garden and library rooms transformed into spaces for reflection and creativity about Sustainability (meeting SD Goals 4, 11, 12, 15, 17).
The project “Wildlife around us: get to know and protect”, implemented by the Zachary Kniazheski Library, aims to make people aware of the wildlife around them and targets students, teachers, parents and the public as a whole with a view to creating awareness about the benefits of living together with our wild friends.
3. Opportunities for library funding
This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).
In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link, https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/managing-authorities/.
In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.
Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?
More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries - First European Report.
4. Main Eurostat Indicators
Key trends in “Life on Land” in Europe show the following evidence :
- Nitrate and phosphate pollution in European rivers has decreased since 2000;
- Europe’s share of forest area has continued to improve gradually;
- The area of sealed soil has increased in the EU, but the rate of change is slowing;
- Settlement area per capita has increased since 2009, spurred by the exploitation of natural areas for more housing and recreational sites;
- Estimates for soil erosion by water indicate a potential decline in the area at risk of soil erosion in the EU;
- The organic carbon content of topsoil has been declining in croplands in most EU Member States, but the picture is rather mixed for grassland;
- Despite being protected, many terrestrial habitats and species have not reached ‘favourable conservation status’ under the Habitats Directive;
- Common bird species and grassland butterfly species continue to decline in Europe.
Goal 15’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:
5. Library Indicators
Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.
A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: "Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries"
"Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss"
Along with SDG 14, SDG 15 is one of the key goals at international level that incorporates environmental considerations for UN member countries. In the EU, this goal ensures that ecosystem health and functioning, with the delivery of ecosystem services, remain a priority, especially in the face of global trends such as population growth, accelerating urbanisation and the increasing need for natural resources. Human activities that damage ecosystems and increase land degradation threaten the provision of these services and diminish biodiversity. Thus, the EU endeavours to ensure healthy and sustainably used and managed ecosystems.
The 7th Environment Action Programme (2014-2020) sets the protection, conservation and enhancement of the Union’s natural capital as one of its priorities. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 outlines targets and actions to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services by 2020. The EU Cohesion Policy allocates EUR 35 billion to environmental protection in 2014-2020.
Targets and Indicators: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg15
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