The effectiveness and sustainability of the proposed 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) with regard to the huge and still growing demand for resources such as land and biomass is the subject of the working paper, The Role of Biomass in the Sustainable Development Goals: A Reality Check and Governance Implications, prepared by the Renewable Resources and the Sustainable Development Goals Forum, Global Soil Forum, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e. V. (IASS).

Released at the start of the Global Soil Week 2015, the publication highlights the cross-cutting, yet overlooked, role of different types of biomass in the SDGs. Biomass, derived from land-based organic materials, is a core foundation of human societies, in its use as human food, animal feed, biomaterials, or bioenergy. Many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals are reliant on biomass. Producing and consuming the various types of biomass sustainably is therefore essential and should be a central concern of the Post-2015 agenda. The publication concludes that the huge land demand implicit in the individual SDGs will affect the future availability of land and potentially impede the fulfilment of the goals: the land demands made in the SDGs exceed our existing land resources. Twelve of the proposed SDGs relate to the sustainable use of natural resources and several depend on the use of additional land resources, for example, the goals on food security (Goal 2), energy supply (Goal 7), production and consumption (Goal 12) and the sustainable use of ecosystems (Goal 15). The IASS publication emphasises the need to find democratic ways of balancing the demands implied by the SDGs during their implementation on national level. Consumers do have an important role as well. The choices we make are of great importance: not only our decisions on what to consume, but also our decision to buy food in a way that it does not end up being wasted.

The IASS Working Paper “The Role of Biomass in the Sustainable Development Goals: A Reality Check and Governance Implications” can be found here.