‘Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss’. (Source: United Nations)

RIVM develops methods and unlocks knowledge related to natural capital, ecosystem services and biodiversity. Its efforts related to SDG Sustainable Development Goal (Sustainable Development Goal) Goal 15 extend to a national and international scale, focusing specifically on the significance of green land and blue waters for health and the human environment. 

Knowledge about ecosystem services and biodiversity, relevant methods, and their significance for society are shared with users, as part of the RIVM approach to SDG15, the global Envision2030 Goal, and the related EU European Union (European Union) Biodiversity Strategy 2020.

Our research contributes to formulating policy measures for sustainable use of ecosystems and natural capital in solving societal challenges, such as climate change, the need for more sustainable farming, and air pollution. One of the ways that RIVM provides such assistance is the Atlas of Natural Capital, a key reference that maps information on natural capital and ecosystem services.  Government authorities and citizens can use this information to facilitate decision-making processes in designing the human environment. Companies can use the data in the Atlas to improve sustainability in their own operations, not least as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. The Telstar tool offers a transparent way to calculate the tangible benefits of greening of a specific district or neighbourhood, such as increased real estate value, improved air quality, lower healthcare costs and reduced energy use. 

We provide information to the Coordination Centre for Effects (CCE) about air pollutant risks to biodiversity, in compliance with the UN United Nations  (United Nations ) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention). For instance, calculations in line with this Convention illustrate that biodiversity is threatened by an excess of nitrogen and other substances in much of Europe and the Netherlands. A range of complementary calculations makes it possible to work out the causes, costs and consequences of air pollution for biodiversity and soil.

The SDGs Sustainable Development Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) and the associated transitions that are currently taking place in the Netherlands (energy, climate adaptation, mobility, sustainable agriculture, circular economy, liveable cities) place increasing pressure on the land and our ecosystem services. In response, this trend demands sustainable use and management of the natural system and the accompanying services, as described in SDG 15.3 on land degradation neutrality. RIVM contributes its system-wide knowledge on land, land use, water and soil management, indicators, quality assessment, and options for restoration of ecosystems and related services.

The SDGs and related transitions also require fundamental changes in paradigms and structures, shifting away from solely economic benefits towards societal returns, from linear thinking to circular thinking, and embracing more network-driven approaches, less centralised management, and initiatives that involve collaboration with users. RIVM supports these innovations by connecting diverse knowledge domains about health and the environment within participative local projects.