Main content area

Sustainable Development Goals and the Forest Sector—A Complex Relationship

Baumgartner, Rupert J.
Forests 2019 v.10 no.2
United Nations, forest industries, forestry, forests, issues and policy, politics, sustainable forestry
The United Nations adopted the Agenda 2030 with its core element, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in September 2015. In order to achieve these goals within the coming years, intense efforts are required by all political and societal actors. Although the first definitions of sustainable development referred to the forest sector, the question remains: what contribution can forestry make to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals? Therefore, the direct positive and negative effects of forestry itself on sustainability are analyzed, and it is discussed how sustainable forest management could contribute to achieving other Sustainable Development Goals in addition to SDG 15. This analysis reveals that forestry plays a dual role, i.e., forestry can achieve positive sustainability effects but can also have negative impacts. It is thus recommended to use integrated assessment approaches to analyze whether a specific forest-related policy or strategy is contributing to sustainable development. Beside quantitative integrated assessments, the use of qualitative frameworks like the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development is proposed. It is also suggested to operationalize the concept of second-order sustainability performance for the forest sector in future research.