The sustainable development goals are for people and planet and June is all about the planet. The Earth sustains us through maintaining a fragile and delicate balance between life on land, below water, and human activity. We talked about #13 Climate Action and #15 Life on Land before, but what about the conjunction of these and marine ecosystems?

SDGs #13 Climate Action, #14 Life below Water, and #15 Life on Land: Action needed now

70% of Planet Earth is covered by water, and we rely heavily on oceans and seas for energy, food, and a cleaner atmosphere. Our marine ecosystems are disrupted by ocean pollution and overfishing. Similarly, tremendous damage has been done to soil quality and to forests through deforestation endangering species and further disrupting food chains. We must conserve and allow for the rehabilitation of marine and terrestrial resources and species to preserve our largest carbon sinks - our oceans, and forests. The phenomena of marine pollution or soil degradation are caused by human activity and contribute to worsening climatic conditions through impacting the ability of oceans and forests to balance the CO2 emissions.

As such, climate action - among other things - should involve the protection, restoration, and the sustainable utilisation of forests, and agricultural land as well as marine resources and aquatic wildlife. We must combat desertification, reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss both on land, and under water. We must realise the unsustainability of our way of life and adapt to the changing climate and resulting conditions in a way that benefits both people, and planet.

If the life of any ecosystem is disrupted, the ripple effect extends to that of the whole planet’s. This is where climate action comes in the picture: Anthropogenic causes require anthropogenic responses, and we are here to showcase some fantastic organisations supporting life on land, below water, and taking climate action.

UCL and the Planet

UCL and Climate Action

Climate change penetrates every aspect of life, and so should climate action. UCL is involved in various interdisciplinary projects to combat emissions and improve the health of our planet. Some areas are more in the mainstream like fast fashion, or an eco-friendly diet, while other large polluters hide in the background. Industry is one of these lesser-talked-about albeit important actors of climate action. For example, the manufacture of cement is responsible for approximately 8% of all human activity related CO2 emissions. Researchers from UCL Centre for Nanotechnology are engaged in a project attempting to alter cement’s crystal build-up to reduce its impact on the environment thereby making construction more sustainable.

Manufacture of cement worldwide accounts for approximately eight per cent of all human-produced carbon dioxide

Professor Ian Robinson (UCL Centre for Nanotechnology). 

UCL and Life below Water

Marine Protected Areas are vital for preserving the health of our oceans, rapidly deteriorating due to waste, exploitative fishing, and unsustainable tourism activity. UCL’s Marine Protected Area Governance project underpinned the UN’s 2019 guidance published on the matter. Researchers engaged in proposing ways to manage these areas effectively and equitably, and to transform them into a contributor to sustainable economic growth.

UCL and Life on Land

Beyond prevention and protection, UCL’s scholars also work on initiatives that rehabilitate already destroyed ecosystems on land, and below water. In Norfolk, a team of UCL geographers together with local farmers and conservation groups have made strides at restoring ancient ponds supporting a plethora of wildlife. Alongside restorative work, the team also engaged with locals to promote sustainable management and biodiversity conservation measures among them. This project meaningfully contributed to the resurrection of the area’s ancient flora and fauna including pollinators.

Support a Goal-relevant charity

Support a Goal#13 charity

Climate action is preserving nature, but it is also making sure that everyone else does too. Through becoming a Climate Ed Climate Change Workshop Facilitator you can have a direct impact on how the next generation perceives and understands climate change and in turn, climate action. Children can be a huge driving force for change as what they learn from you will inspire not only them but their family and extended households too fostering a more eco-friendly lifestyle across generations.

Support a Goal#14 charity

If you are looking to contribute to the restoration and maintenance of the aquatic ecosystems of London long-term, Cody Dock is looking for citizen scientists who will help protect the biodiversity of the river that houses the organisation. You will engage in river safaris, waterway habitat protection and wildlife surveying as well as community river clean-ups. Cody Dock also protect the terrestrial ecosystem surrounding the river demonstrating the interconnectedness of SDG#14 and #15.

Support a Goal#15 charity

Urban farming and green spaces play an important role in the fight against climate change. We have many partners that use their position to develop and maintain urban greenery and they need you! With the Castlehaven Community Association in Camden, the Surrey Docks Farm in South Wharf, or the Share Community in Tooting, there will be a local green space to nurture for everyone. Looking to have a direct impact on both people and planet? Develop green spaces for Thames Reach Hostels housing vulnerable and homeless individuals with Student-Led Open Space Redevelopment Project and improve the wellbeing of both the residents, and the city.

Climate Action is preserving life on land and below water, but it is also much more: It is fundamentally changing the way we operate and integrating sustainable behaviour into our everyday lives. It is about assessing our impact on the environment and minimising it to the largest extent possible. All mundane actions as well as planned development should be done with the impact on life on land and below water in mind. Through volunteering you can contribute to raising awareness of the issue as well as you can assume an active role of transforming our everyday ways of life in favour of people, and planet.