SDG 15: Life on Land

Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.

SDG15 targets the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of land and inland freshwater ecosystems, including sustainable forest management and combatting desertification, as well as the prevention of further loss of biodiversity.

From 2000 to 2015, more than a fifth of the planet’s total land area was degraded, largely as a result of human activity. This is threatening food security, with arable land loss estimated at 30-35 times the historical rate, and nearly half of the productive soil disappearing in the last 150 years. This threatens crop yields and contributes to nutrient pollution, dead zones, and erosion.

Forests cover nearly 31% of the planet’s land area. They are integral to life on earth: they provide oxygen, food and shelter, and rich natural habitats; about 1.6 billion people depend on them for their livelihoods; and they are vital in the fight against climate change. Yet they are under threat: 13 million hectares of forests are lost every year.

Meanwhile, 22% of known animal species are at risk of extinction – 8% are already extinct – and much plant life remains understudied, particularly micro-organisms and invertebrates.

How the cement and concrete industry is making a positive difference

The production of both cement and concrete relies on the extraction of raw materials, particularly limestone. This inevitably has an impact on the surrounding natural environment – but these impacts can be successfully addressed and mitigated through effective, well-designed, and progressive quarry rehabilitation plans. It is also worth noting that the land area taken by the sector is very small.

The GCCA is committed to supporting its members to minimise impacts and – where possible – to enhance biodiversity, publishing guidelines, standards and best practices for quarry rehabilitation and biodiversity management. GCCA members are similarly committed, setting targets, adhering to guidelines that aim to prevent adverse environmental incidents, and reporting performance based on key performance indicators found in the GCCA guidelines.

The GCCA is also a partner of the Business for Nature coalition, which brings together influential organisations and forward-thinking businesses seeking to reverse nature loss, and a member of the Concrete Sustainability Council (CSC), supporting the only worldwide industry-specific system to certify the sustainability performance of concrete plants and their supply chains. The responsible sourcing of construction materials is an increasingly important priority in high-profile construction projects and in public procurement. Concrete has an important role to play and its short supply chains and local production lend themselves to demonstrably high levels of responsibility in environmental, social, and economic sourcing.

At the operational level, the industry supports the development of a circular economy in a number of ways, which helps to reduce the need to extract virgin raw materials: for example, the use of alternative raw materials and fuels, as well as supplementary cementitious materials, in the cement manufacturing process, and the use of recycled and synthetic aggregates in the production of concrete.

Case studies

Haven for orchids – protecting and restoring biodiversity in quarries

Quarry Life Award

CEMEX Biodiversity Scoping Study and Action Plan

Buzzi Unicem: Environmental recovery of extraction sites

Titan: Preserving Local Flora in Turkey

Titan: Collaborations for the protection of Biodiversity