Sustainable Development Goal 15 “Life on Land” and Project Management

This installment in our series on the SDGs focuses on #15 of 17, Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”. This SDG has 9 targets which you can read in detail. The short version is to protect all life on land.

For this post, I engaged Dr. Eduard Muller, Rector of the University for Cooperation in Costa Rica. UCI is a world leading institute on this topic and we at GPM can’t emphasize enough that simply creating sustainable products is not going to solve the problems we are facing. We must regenerate what has been lost in the process.

Perspective on Regenerative Development

Joel: “Dr. Muller, can you provide your perspective on Regenerative Development?”

Dr. Muller: “Regenerative Development gives us the most viable solution to a healthy future and human wellbeing. The global movement towards regeneration has begun and is gaining momentum. The time to join and become a leading person or organization is now!”

Joel: “It most certainly has. We are excited about the programs that will launch with the IIPSD and the focus on this topic. Can you share some background from your perspective on how we got to where we are?”

Dr. Muller: “Sure.  First, it is important to understand that humankind has taken a dangerous path with its current global development trends. We are in a time of rapid population growth coupled with overconsumption and massive destruction of Nature. These trends, potentiated by technological developments have resulted in human induced impacts even in the most remote places.”

Joel: “Overconsumption and Population Growth has a direct correlation to climate change.  What do you see as a key driver?”

Dr. Muller: “Climate Change is accelerating and increasing in magnitude and consequences making it impossible to be in denial. Communication has never been better, faster and cheaper. We are flooded with alarming news from around the world yet we are continuing to promote degenerative development.  While population has grown four times in 100 years, consumption per person has increased nine times, that means that we are extracting 36 times more resources than a century ago.”

Joel: What are some concrete things that can be done?

Dr. Muller: In order to reverse the damage and allow for life on the planet to continue – though with changes – we need to implement regenerative development, based on a holistic approach that integrates six layers:

  1. Regeneration of functional landscapes, where we produce and conserve, maximizing ecosystem function;
  2. Social strengthening by community organization and development, to cope with adaptation to climate change and reduce sumptuous consumption patterns;
  3. A new paradigm for economic development where people matter more than markets and money, measured according to the well-being of humans and all life forms;
  4. Conservation and valuation of living culture which is the necessary bond for community life, where local knowledge, values, and traditions are shared within family, friends and the community as a whole, giving meaning to these terms;
  5. Rethinking and redesigning current political structures so they reflect true participatory democracy without the influence of money and power and especially fostering long-term vision and actions that seek increased livelihoods and happiness and not only gross income; and most importantly
  6. Fostering deep spiritual and value structures based on ethics, transparency and global well-being to allow humanity to live in peace with itself and Mother Earth.

Resource Scarcity

As Dr. Muller pointed out, we are at a time where population growth and overconsumption is contributing to global problems regarding resource availability. Unless we place a significant emphasis on regeneration, resource scarcity will become an impediment to our way of life.

It is because of the growing scarcities in resources that the business community must act and project management, a profession that exists to drive change,  take the lead, It was this thinking that drove us to establish the International Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development or IIPSD.

On Project Management

What does all of this have to do with project management?  Maybe the question should be what doesn’t it have to with project management? It was raised in an earlier post by Michael Young that we as project managers have an ethical and moral obligation to safeguard our environment. I would go so far as to say that we must look beyond our standard view of resource constraints to consider constrained resources by enhancing our adaptive capacity.  This means to:
– Understand the total exposure and risk to the business by mapping material risks and opportunities from your projects
– Take into account the total asset lifecycle in our decision making
– Engage project stakeholders and advocate for biodiversity loss prevention and regeneration as KPIs for project success.

A Short Clip

This video provides a sobering view of the importance of carbon emission reduction.  We must understand the reality of what is happening around us and work to regenerate what has been degraded. We don’t have any other option.

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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