Overshoot day 2015 in August and the SDGs in September – A response or mere coincidence?


“Global overshoot occurs when humanity’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide—fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption—exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. Overshoot means we are drawing down the planet’s principal rather than living off its annual interest. This overshoot leads to a depletion of Earth’s life-supporting natural capital and a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

For more details go on their website http://www.overshootday.org/ or read the MedWet article on overshoot day 2015.

Yes, humanity reached the “Overshoot day” 2015 on 13 August. Some 45 days later, the UN General Assembly, meeting in a special Summit, approved by consensus the “New agenda for sustainable development 2016-2030” with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

They are 17 Goals to, inter alia, end poverty; end hunger and achieve food security; ensure healthy lives and equitable education; achieve gender equality; ensure availability and sustainable management of water; ensure energy for all and full and productive employment; ensure sustainable consumption and production patters; take urgent action to combat climate change; conserve and sustainably use the oceans; provide justice for all and build accountable institutions; and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

And where is nature? I left out of the listing, in order to cite it in full, the SDG 15: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”    

And wetlands? Where they forgotten? No! For each SDG there are a number of specific targets. Under SDG 15, target 15.1 reads By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements(emphasis added).

I invite you to familiarise yourself with the other nine targets of SDG 15, all of them relevant for wetlands conservation and sustainable use (visit their website).

Thus, we have now at our disposal a strong instrument to work with, formally adopted by all our governments. They have committed themselves to achieve the targets by 2030. It is up to us to assist governments and societies to do so, by lobbying and by making specific contributions with the development and implementation of concrete projects and initiatives.

MedWet has anticipated this development by drafting an ambitious Framework for Action 2016-2030 (when the SDGs emerged in draft form in 2014). The draft Framework contemplates 81 actions for wetlands in the Mediterranean region. It will be soon distributed to MedWet countries and partners for comments, with a view to have the Framework formally adopted by the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee at its meeting in Paris, France, on 7-11 February 2016.

As soon as the draft Framework for Action has been transmitted to the MedWet Governments, it will be posted here and our readers can send their comments, suggestions and proposals, not only on the proposed actions but also on the ways and means to implement them. We count on you!

Let’s hope that with the effective implementation of the SDGs our only Planet will reach a situation where the “Overshoot day” will no longer be achieved before 31 December of each year!

Delmar Blasco, MedWet Coordinator