Linking fire and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Science of the Total Environment



Fire is a ubiquitous natural disturbance that affects 3–4% of the Earth's surface each year. It is a tool used by humans for land clearing and burning of agricultural wastes. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do not explicitly mention fire, though many of the Goals are affected by the beneficial and adverse consequences of fires on ecosystem services. There are at least three compelling reasons to include a fire perspective in the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The first reason relates to the stated vision of the United Nations 2030 Agenda to protect the environment. In order to achieve environmental protection during sustainable development activities, it is necessary to understand and plan for the effects of disturbances, in this case fire, on ecosystem services. The second reason is that fires produce emissions with regional and global impacts on air quality and rainfall patterns. Fires contribute to global warming though the release greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, and black carbon, identified as a SLCP (short-lived climate pollutant). The third reason is that fire is one of several complex processes that lead to land degradation across the globe. Opportunities exist to incorporate a fire perspective into sustainable development projects or approaches. Two examples are highlighted here. Transdisciplinary communication and collaboration are needed to address the complex issues related to fire, and to climate and land use change.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Linking fire and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.393
Volume 662
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) WMA - Earth System Processes Division
Description 12 p.
First page 547
Last page 558