Population increases, industry, urbanisation, infrastructure development and agricultural expansion influence landscapes, lowering total habitat size and quality and resulting in ecological degradation. Overall, the pace of extinction caused by human activities is so high that even conservative estimates suggest humankind has entered the sixth major extinction event (Bradshaw et al. 2021). Earth had had a non-aquatic environment throughout its geological history, except when its entire surface was covered with water. Non-aquatic generally means terrestrial environments. Nevertheless, even an entirely aquatic environment like lakes encompasses a broad range of mixed habitats where aquatic and terrestrial areas evolve and interact throughout time (Beraldi-Campesi 2013). Terrestrial ecosystems provide goods and various ecosystem services such as carbon capturing, preserving soil quality, protecting biodiversity, decreasing the risk of natural disasters by regulating water flow, controlling erosion and preserving agricultural systems. Therefore, protecting terrestrial ecosystems significantly contributes to tackling the climate crisis and adaptation efforts. In 2015 United Nations established SDG-15, which is about “Life on Land” to maintain, restore and enhance the utilisation of the terrestrial environment and forest management sustainably, struggle with desertification and stop and reverse land degradation, as well as the loss of biodiversity (Ishtiaque et al. 2020). These initiatives aim to ensure that the advantages of land-based ecosystems, such as sustainable livelihoods, are maintained for future generations (UNEP 2021). The notion that the management of terrestrial ecosystems, especially forests and varied biodiversity, is critical for long-term development has gained widespread acceptance. However, the demands of population expansion, development of the economy and greater consumption will only exacerbate the difficulties of maintaining life on land (Sayer et al. 2019). SDG-15 has a vital role in dealing with these problems. As shown in Fig. 17.1, there are 12 targets within the context of SDG-15, and they are measured with 14 indicators.

Fig. 17.1
figure 1

SDG-15 targets and indicators. (UNEP 2021, p. 15)

As explained earlier, SDG-15 targets preserving, restoring and encouraging the use of terrestrial ecosystems in a sustainable manner, sustainably managing forests, fighting desertification and preventing the loss of biodiversity and soil deterioration. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the ecological impact of agriculture has grown substantially. As a result, food production is a major contributor to these problems: Expanding agriculture has resulted in habitat loss for 80% of endangered animals (Måren 2019). More than 80% of the human diet is made up of plants, and up to 80% of people in developing nations’ rural regions depend on traditional plant-based medicines for basic healthcare. Approximately 2.6 billion people rely directly on agriculture for their livelihoods, and about 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods; forests occupy around 30% of the Earth’s surface, and they are home to nearly 80% of all terrestrial animals, plants and insect species (UNEP 2021).

Forests assist in preventing climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere; supporting the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the atmosphere; and conserving watersheds, which provide 75% of the world’s freshwater. Natural catastrophes, such as floods, droughts, landslides and other severe occurrences, are also reduced (Kleymann and Mitlacher 2018). The loss of forested areas has a detrimental impact on rural populations’ lives since it leads to increased carbon emissions, land degradation (which affects 74% of the world’s poor) and biodiversity loss (“SDG 15” 2021). Forests are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, supporting more than 80% of all terrestrial animal, plant and insect species. Forests have a crucial role in people’s livelihoods and well-being, particularly among the rural poor, young and women. Forests support roughly 1.6 billion people, including over 2000 indigenous cultures, in addition to providing shelter, income and security for forest-dependent communities (Kleymann and Mitlacher 2018).

Member States of the United Nations stated at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 that they recognise the social and economic importance of good land use planning, including soil, especially its help to economic growth, biodiversity, sustainable agricultural production, poverty eradication, women’s empowerment, climate change mitigation and enhanced water accessibility. They highlight that desertification, land degradation and drought are worldwide concerns that continue to pose major threats to all nations’ sustainable development, particularly developing ones. They also underlined the need of taking immediate action to reverse land degradation. In light of this, we shall work to build a land degradation-free world in the context of long-term development. This should operate as a catalyst for mobilising financial resources from both public and private sources (The future we want, 2012).

Forests and biodiversity will almost certainly face challenges in the future years. As a result of this issue, additional protective and long-term strategies should be developed – all efforts to achieve long-term sustainability influence land-based life. The solution-oriented issues discussed will be a big step towards these challenges. There will be a decline in the use of wood for livelihoods, especially if the economy continues to expand, and therefore the problem of poverty may be reduced to a minimum. Health and education level will be positively affected by this situation. As long as forests and wetlands are protected, the services and opportunities offered will also result from these sustainable development goals. If plans progress as intended, the following will occur (Sayer et al. 2019):

  • There will be a greater displacement from rural to urban regions.

  • By emphasising agriculture, more mechanised farms will be developed. Industrial agriculture will increase trees and forests and improve efficiency (Laurance et al. 2013).

  • As the purchasing power increases, the demand for agricultural products will decrease, and the consumption of meat and dairy products will increase.

  • To access mineral resources, infrastructure will be expanded into forest regions.

  • The desire to be near nature and forest regions will raise the value of biodiversity and the ecosystem it supports (Tyrväinen et al. 2005).

  • Countries will transition to a green economy, and expanding forest lands will be added as a result.

  • Timber harvests from natural forests will be reduced.

  • Forest monitoring with remote sensing and “Internet of things” applications will become more common as new technologies emerge.

  • Initiatives to address climate issues will increase as forests are protected and restored.

  • There will be solutions developed to address the issue of forest fires induced by climate change.

By 2030, significant progress will be made, even if these targets are not finished. Ongoing studies and practices will ensure that life on land is protected (Sayer et al. 2019). When conducting these applications, an integrated and systematic strategy is necessary (Tremblay et al. 2020). The working principle of integration is used horizontally across policy domains, vertically from the global to the national and local levels and regionally across local governments (Kanuri et al. 2016). Localisation refers to the implementation of SDG practices at the local level. The methods adopted to accomplish global, national and subnational objectives and the process of monitoring these strategies are referred to as SDG localisation (Losada 2014). Although scientific research on cities and SDGs is growing (Barnett and Parnell 2016; Bibri and Krogstie 2017; Graute 2016), there is still a knowledge vacuum about how to best apply them at the local level (Fenton and Gustafsson 2017; Krellenberg et al. 2019).

Together with SDG-15, it is aimed to integrate the international conventions and agreements made for the continuation of life on land with other targets (Sayer et al. 2019). Ecosystems and forests are important from an economic point of view. SDG-15.1 aims to protect ecosystems and their economic values (Dempsey 2016). Payments for ecosystem services (PES), an economic and environmental approach, aim to protect biodiversity by internalising the real value of biodiversity (Pirard 2011). With this approach, the protected ecosystem will provide more services and be good for both the economy and biodiversity in the long run (Pirard 2011). To sustain the business world fed by natural resources, it is necessary to protect the ecosystem. Since institutions take over ecosystems, the focus is on generating income from biodiversity rather than protecting it. The forestry sector is a good example of this situation. The environmental standards determined to protect the ecosystem in public institutions and companies have been stretched under the name of economic incentives (Lovera 2017). Current business models and economic approaches are not sustainable. Evaluating, optimising and minimising the effect and dependency of businesses on the land and ecosystems is a direct way for businesses to support life on land (“SDG 15” 2021). Integrating socio-economic development activities into protection plans as a method of ensuring long-term resource utilisation necessitates a thorough knowledge of the interconnections between humans and natural processes (Bridgewater et al. 2015).

17.1 Companies and Use Cases

Table 17.1 presents the business models of 45 companies and use cases that employ emerging technologies and create value in SDG-15. We should highlight that one use case can be related to more than one SDG and it can make use of multiple emerging technologies. In the left column, we present the company name, the origin country, related SDGs and emerging technologies that are included. The companies and use cases are listed alphabeticallyFootnote 1.

Table 17.1 Companies and use cases in SDG-15