SDG 15

There are some encouraging global trends in protecting terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity. Forest loss is slowing down, more key biodiversity areas are protected and more financial assistance is flowing towards biodiversity protection. Yet, the 2020 targets of Sustainable Development Goal 15 are unlikely to be met, land degradation continues, biodiversity loss is occurring at an alarming rate, and invasive species and the illicit poaching and trafficking of wildlife continue to thwart efforts to protect and restore vital ecosystems and species.

Recent research at the School of Global Policy and Strategy

The Big Pixel Initiative is developing geospatial capacity to address our world’s greatest challenges at scale. Founded in partnership at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute and School of Global Policy and Strategy, we have partnered with the DigitalGlobe Foundation to grow a living, learning laboratory related to everything spatial, to investigate and design best practices in geospatial data visualization, user experience interfaces, and design techniques for scientific discovery and decision-making. Resources The Big Pixel Team has partnered with the…
Technological transformations open new opportunities and disrupt old patterns. Founded in 2006, Center on Global Transformation (CGT) provides a new framework for vanguard exploration of topics critical to analyzing and shaping the forces of economic change in a deeply interconnected, thoroughly dynamic world. CGT and its Pacific Leadership Fellows program focus on academic inquiry and policy analysis of international issues. CGT’s core mission is to: Foster and disseminate research that addresses global economic and technology transformation Develop and maintain a network…
Today’s global food and land-use systems are not meeting the needs of food security, healthy diets, adequate incomes for farmers,  zero emissions, protection of biodiversity, chemical pollution and sustainable use of water resources. The goal of FABLE is to develop consistent global and national pathways towards sustainable land use and food systems by 2050. The FABLE Consortium has released its 2020 Report on Pathways to Sustainable Land-Use and Food Systems. Explore the latest trends in food and land-use with the…


Teevrat Garg

There is a long-standing debate over whether new roads unavoidably lead to environmental damage, especially forest loss, but causal identification has been elusive. Using multiple causal identification strategies, we study the construction of new rural roads to over 100,000 villages and the upgrading of 10,000 kilometers of national highways in India. The new rural roads had precisely zero effect on local deforestation. In contrast, the highway upgrades caused substantial forest loss, which appears to be driven by increased timber demand along the transportation corridors. In terms of forests, last mile connectivity had a negligible environmental cost, while expansion of major corridors had important environmental impacts.


David Victor

One of the most significant impacts of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been the establishment of a participatory process for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). We analyse the case of Brazil, the country whose land-use emissions from deforestation and forest degradation have declined the most. Through semi-structured interviews with 29 country policy experts – analysed in full text around 7 categories of activities that existing literature identifies as central elements of an effective governance system – we find weak links between the international REDD+ system and what actually happens on the ground inside Brazil.


Peter Cowhey

Many researchers around the world are working to apply gene editing technologies with the hope of safely and effectively engineering populations of insects and other pest arthropods in the wild either to reduce diseases, such as malaria or dengue fever, or to control agricultural pests, such as those that transmit the bacterium that causes citrus greening disease. Important benefits could be realized if these research efforts are successful, but realizing these benefits requires sustained, open, and inclusive attention to potential environmental and social impacts and regulatory and implementation challenges.