- National Government Applications
- United Arab Emirates
- European Union
- Community of Andean Nations
- Costa Rica
- National Reviews
- Stiglitz Commission Report
- European Commission
- European Parliament
- Local, Regional and Municipal Applications
- Calgary, Canada
- Ontario, Canada
- San Francisco, USA
- Curitiba, Brazil
- Quito, Ecuador
- Cascais, Portugal
- EPA Victoria, Australia
- Cardiff and regional applications in the UK
- Marin County, California
- Sonoma, California
- State of Utah
- Business Applications
Wales is pursuing an ambitious goal. It has pledged, within the lifetime of a generation, to reduce its per capita Ecological Footprint to the global average biocapacity available. Its One Wales: One Planet campaign strives to match ambition to action. The government has launched programs to reduce the Footprint of transportation and housing, and is working with local authorities to develop low-carbon action plans for every region in Wales. Using the Ecological Footprint as one of five headline sustainability indicators, the government reports back annually to citizens, using the Footprint to both set strategy and chart progress toward its one-planet goals.
- Read the Welsh Assembly Government’s most recent sustainability report detailing its action plan for reducing its Footprint.
- Read the One Planet Wales report, that shows how Wales can reduce its Footprint and transform its economy
- Learn more about the Welsh Assembly Government’s sustainability goals and initiatives
The Ecological Footprint is an indicator in Switzerland’s sustainable development monitoring system, and is officially accepted by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, conducting a scientific review of the Swiss National Footprint Accounts. The Federal Office of Spatial Development is working to broaden the use of the Footprint in national strategy, and using the data to inform policy. Swiss officials are now incorporating Ecological Footprint data into the nation’s Sustainability Development Plan.
After completing an extensive internal review of Japan’s National Footprint accounts research, the Japanese government has adopted the Footprint as part of Japan’s Basic Environmental Plan. In addition to informing environmental policy and goals, Ecological Footprint accounting is being used to inform and educate the wider public about the country’s resource demands and trends. The Japan Ecological Footprint Report 2009, which identified leading areas of ecological demand and offers policy recommendations to address them, reached an audience of well over 8 million people and fueled a growing call to action at both the individual and government levels. The report has been used to engage environment ministers on specific plans of action to more sustainably manage resource demand. Global Footprint Network is inviting Japanese officials to join in roundtables with representatives of other Asia-Pacific countries to share practices and better manage ecological assets.
The government of Luxembourg has recently completed an Ecological Footprint report for the public and a technical assessment of the Footprint methodology as a basis for regular reporting on the country’s Ecological Footprint. The Footprint reports were published by Luxembourg’s Council for Sustainable Development, which is charged with advising the government on policy relating to sustainable development and meeting its commitments with regard to the environment and sustainable development.
The council views a precise assessment of biocapacity and Ecological Footprint as in important step in informing policy on sustainable development and meeting international commitments on the environment and sustainable development. It’s recently completed assessment of the Footprint is intended as a basis for future yearly calculation of Luxembourg’s Footprint by Global Footprint Network in conjunction with national offices and organizations.
Click here for more information and to download reports.
The CAN and its member nations – Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru – began working with Global Footprint Network in early 2009 on an initiative to maintain one of the CAN region’s richest and most important assets: its natural resource base. The initiative seeks to demonstrate the interdependence between a country’s natural wealth, its economic health and, ultimately, the well-being of its people.
As part of the initiative, the CAN launched a video (in Spanish; see below) that explains this lofty concept in terms almost any family can relate to. “It’s as if a family needed to adjust expenditures because of having another child,” the video explains, “yet nevertheless, in spite of these forces, the family continued to spend more money.” Now, however, the video says, the CAN is working to address that situation – in particular Ecuador, which has adopted specific Ecological Footprint reduction goals.
The CAN has also released a preview version of a report on the Ecological Footprint of the CAN countries that it will release with Global Footprint Network in 2010. The teaser, which introduces people to the concept of the Ecological Footprint and provides a snapshot of the data, can be downloaded here in English and Spanish. The longer report will provide an in-depth look at the ecological trends in each of the member countries, along with perspectives and commentary by in-country experts.
The Philippines is on track to adopt the Ecological Footprint at the national level. In 2011, the government began exploring ways to incorporate the Ecological Footprint into its proposed National Land Use Act for 2012. The legislation, a comprehensive national land-use policy, will protect areas from haphazard development and plan for the country's use and management of the country's physical resources. The government will continue to work with Global Footprint Network in 2012-2013 to make the Philippines the first country in Southeast Asia to adopt the Footprint at the national level. See the recently released Philippines Ecological Footprint Report, "A Measure for Resilience."
The Ecological Footprint and biocapacity data for Costa Rica were included for the first time in the country’s annual State of Nation report, an overview of national social, economic, environmental and political issues. In it, Steffan Gómez, the report’s chief researcher, attributed the country’s growing Footprint to its increased consumption and pollution. The Ecological Footprint was one of several indicators used in the report to provide information relevant to public policy on sustainable human development.
The Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia Industrial (INTI) have created a new interdisciplinary working group: the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity Program Argentina, to validate and provide data to measure the ecological footprint at the national and sub-national (provincial, departmental and/or municipal) levels.
Read more about the working group.
The following countries have conducted National Reviews of the Footprint:
- Stiglitz Commission Report
- European Commission
- European Parliament
The Ecological Footprint is being used as a communication and performance measurement tool by over 100 cities around the world. Following are some highlights of how the Ecological Footprint is informing sustainability policy and campaigns at the local government level.
The City of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, is the first city government to develop concrete Footprint reduction targets. Due to rapid economic and population growth and increasing pressures on the environment, the Mayor and Council of the City of Calgary are utilizing the Ecological Footprint to engage the community and City government in advancing the goals of their 100 year sustainability vision. In 2005, the City of Calgary participated in an Ecological Footprint study, which found that the city’s Footprint exceeded the Canadian average by over 30%, at 9.86 global hectares per person. With the city’s EcoFootprint Program, Calgary plans to reduce its footprint to the national average of 7.25 gha per capita by 2036.
Now, as city leaders make infrastructure and planning choices that will shape the way residents live for years to come, they are using the Ecological Footprint as an important tool in their decision-making. As a direct result of the Footprint projects, officials decided to halt new development on green space for at least a year until they can develop a policy that takes the Footprint and long-term sustainability goals into account. Calgary has become the first city in North America to power its public light rail transit system with 100% emissions-free wind-generated energy. By 2012, The City of Calgary will purchase all of its electricity from renewable sources.
This past year, the Calgary community has joined the EcoFootprint project with a number of new programs. Accomplishments include a personal EcoFootprint Calculator specific to Calgary residents; several collaborative roundtable discussions and a concluding report on Charting Calgary’s Low-Carbon Future Outcomes; the Community Footprint Program to set up two community-initiated environmental projects in each Ward of the city in 2009; and the 20th annual Mayor’s Environment Expo to engage school-age children in sustainability projects, to name a few. Using the Ecological Footprint concept, the city with largest per capita footprint in the country has become a leader in sustainable urban initiatives. Read Calgary's Report "Reducing the Ecological Footprint: A Calgary Approach"
The Ontario Biodiversity Council (OBC), in conjunction with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, released its State of Ontario’s Biodiversity 2010 report, comprised of 29 indicators that provide the most comprehensive overview to date of the province’s natural environment and the pressures on its biodiversity.
More than one-third of the indicators in the Council’s report establish baselines of information for the first time, providing a reliable way to measure progress in the future. One of these indicators is the Ecological Footprint, which indicates pressure on biodiversity by measuring human demand on ecosystems.
In 2005, Ontario’s Ecological Footprint was 8.4 global hectares per person, one of the largest in the world on a per capita basis, the report states. However, the ability of Ontario’s biological resources to support these demands is limited. On a per capita basis, Ontario has much less biocapacity available than Canada overall, though its biocapacity equals its Ecological Footprint on a per capita basis.
“To the extent human pressure exceeds what nature can renew or takes land out of use altogether by paving it over, biodiversity will face continued threats,” said Global Footprint Network Applications Manager Meredith Stechbart.
In 2005, Ontario released a biodiversity strategy, which laid out a series of recommendations on improving the protection of the province’s natural wealth. The creation of the Ontario Biodiversity Council fulfilled a recommendation of the Strategy.
“The work of the Ontario Biodiversity Council shows that the government has taken significant steps to address the goals of the biodiversity strategy,” said Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources. “Measuring and documenting our biodiversity will enable Ontarians to make informed conservation and planning decisions.”
“This report shows where the threats to Ontario’s biodiversity are,” says Jon Grant, Chair of the Ontario Biodiversity Council. “We now have a clear picture of where we need to concentrate more efforts and where more research is required. We may not like all of the findings of the report, but we can certainly use the knowledge we’ve gained to strengthen Ontario’s conservation agenda.”
Download the State of Ontario's Biodiversity 2010
Download the State of Ontario's Biodiversity 2010 -- Highlights
Download the Ontario Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Report
In 2010 Global Footprint Network joined forces with the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) to calculate the Ecological Footprint of San Francisco residents and the city as a whole. With urban design and infrastructure having a major influence on its residents’ Ecological Footprints, the goal of the project was to expand the thinking and knowledge around urban living and sustainability. The completed footprint study (download the PDF) found that the average San Franciscan’s overall footprint was about 6 percent higher than the average American’s. The study revealed one of the paradoxes of Footprint trends in modern cities: while density and public transportation options significantly reduce per capita Footprint, the increased affluence of city residents correlates with increased consumption. A $1000 increase in expenditure is expected, on average, to correlate with a 0.09 gha per capita increase in Ecological Footprint. A 100 people per square mile increase in population density is associated with a 0.06 gha per capita decrease in the Ecological Footprint. (Read more about the study.)
The report showed food and beverage consumption as the biggest contributor to the city’s Footprint. To address this (in part), SPUR has just launched a new program on food systems and urban agriculture. (Read more about the initiative.)
In June 2010, Global Footprint Network completed its joint project with Federação das Indústrias do Estado do Paraná (FIEP) and Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial (SENAI) on a report on the Ecological Footprint of the city of Curitiba. The report included the biocapacity of Paraná state, with additional detail on the government's Ecological Footprint. The project was two-fold: to complement CICI 2010 (conferência internacional de cidades inovadoras), a forum hosted by FIEP, which showcased innovative cities, and to be used as part of FIEP’s public outreach after Curitiba won the Globe Sustainable City Award 2010. The report was created with the residents of Curitiba in mind, but was also intended to serve as a best practices model that other cities could emulate.Download the report (in Portuguese)
Global Footprint Network has also completed a study of the Ecological Footprint of Quito, one of the largest cities in Ecuador, in partnership with CORPAIRE, a local agency specializing in air quality that is looking to influence city policy to address air pollution and other environmental challenges. The study provided a benchmark Ecological Footprint for the city of Quito, with a detailed breakdown of consumption patterns, and basic evaluations around possible future scenarios for the city based on population, energy, GDP and other factors. CORPAIRE plans to release the study to city government officials in 2011.
In 2009, the Portuguese city of Cascais completed a study of its Ecological Footprint to better understand its major areas of ecological pressure. The study, conducted by Agenda Cascais 21 in collaboration with the Center for Sustainability Studies and Strategies, found that Cascais has a footprint of 5.2 global hectares, 18 per cent greater than the national average for Portugal. It also identified the Footprint of various sectors such as food, mobility, transport, housing, goods and services, and the extent to which each of these contributed to the Footprint. While Cascais still has a signficantly lower Footprint than cities such as Victoria, Australia; Marin, California and London, providing the ecological services for its 187,000 residents requires an area 79 times that of the city itself.
Read Público's article about the project (in Portuguese).
The Environmental Protection Authority in Victoria, Australia is a partner of Global Footprint Network and actively uses the Ecological Footprint as an engagement and resource accounting tool. Highlights of their applications are described in a mini-report they produced for Footprint Forum 2006 in Siena, Italy and in more detail on their website.
The City of London used extensive Footprint analyses to determine target areas for Footprint reductions. The Ecological Footprint was assessed in terms of key impact areas: goods, services and waste management; food; direct energy consumption (except transport); personal mobility; provision of housing, and pollution abatement. This analysis was then used by local governments and business for further policy planning:
- London First and London Remade conducted a follow-up study to investigate how London's public and private sector might work together to reduce London's Ecological Footprint.
- The City of London used the analysis to develop an agenda for change, which sets out the key agenda areas in which action will need to be concentrated in order to make London a more sustainable city and offers proposed action items for Footprint reduction for business, public authorities and the central government.
- A sustainable policy strategy for the Mayor of London was developed based on high Footprint reduction potential areas indicated by the study.
Read about City Limits London, a resource flow and Ecological Footprint analysis of Greater London.
Taking Italy’s national Ecological Footprint as a baseline, Ambienteitalia, one of Global Footprint Network Partners in Italy, worked to calculate the Province of Milan Ecological Footprint based on both land and consumption. The results of the study show that the Ecological Footprint of the Province of Milan is 4.17 gha per inhabitant, a figure slightly above the national average of 4.15 gha.
Many other cities and regions throughout the U.K. have since conducted Footprint Analyses. The Sustainable Consumption Group of the Stockholm Environment Institute at York has led a number of studies of cities and regions. Read more about the Footprint and regional sustainability in the U.K. here.
The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) used the Ecological Footprint to choose focus areas, set targets for reducing the county’s Footprint by 15 percent, and measure the success of an update to the Marin Countywide Plan, a legal document that guides the county’s conservation and development strategy. The Footprint analysis allowed policymakers to determine the extent to which the implementation of these programs and targets and actually reduce Marin’s pressure on ecosystems. The Footprint is also being used by the county and local NGOs as a public communications tool.
Under a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Sustainable Sonoma County, a local NGO, used the Ecological Footprint as the foundation of a 2002 campaign. The county's Footprint campaign,“Time to Lighten Up”, inspired every city in the county to sign up for ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability's Climate Saver Initiative, with a commitment to reduce their CO2 output by 20 percent.
In 2007, in an effort to bring Utah’s population growth and increasing Ecological Footprint into public conversation and policy, the Utah Population and Environment Coalition (UPEC) spearheaded the first effort to calculate the Ecological Footprint of a US state. With support from Global Footprint Network, UPEC prepared the Footprint study as part of their Utah Vital Signs project on sustainability indicators. The final report, Utah Vital Signs 2007: the Ecological Footprint of Utah, has provided a means for Utah inhabitants to understand the pressure they place on their own and the world’s biologically productive land and water areas. It has opened public dialogue on overshoot and how citizens, legislators, and planners can make better decisions for their and their state’s future. UPEC’s pioneering project has sparked interest in similar state-level projects around the country.
The WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), an organization that represents many of the world’s most influential corporations, has launched Vision 2050 to identify the pathways toward a one-planet economy in the next four decades. Global Footprint Network participated in the year-long process in order to provide a framework for thinking about resource constraints as well as to quantify whether the proposed pathways and scenarios are robust enough to achieve a one planet economy by 2050.
In collaboration with companies such as Boeing, Syngenta and Weyerhaeuser (which are providing data on energy, cropland efficiency and forest productivity, respectively) Global Footprint Network developed a calculator to test whether the solutions and innovations proposed by the group of 35 participating companies are up to scale with the level of change needed.
The emerging consensus was that the pathways toward a sustainable world will require fundamental changes in governance structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior. The companies found that not only are these changes necessary, they are feasible and offer tremendous business opportunities for those companies that incorporate sustainability into their strategies. For example, companies can develop new green products and energy technologies that humanity will need in the future.
The GPT Group is a multinational and multi-billion dollar commercial real estate development company that owns and manages retail shopping malls in Australia. The company was interested in adopting a standardized method of measuring the environmental impact of its properties to meet operational sustainability targets of 20 percent impact reduction by 2009 for its retail division. Specifically, GPT wanted to be able to compare the impact of different building and interior design choices during remodeling.
To meet this need, Global Footprint Network worked with the company to develop a calculator that GPT’s tenants use as a required part of the leasing process. Using detailed raw materials data for different categories of stores (fashion retailers, restaurants/food vendors, etc.), Global Footprint Network developed specific and easy-to-use questionnaires that calculate the Footprint implications of different design choices and encourages tenants to select low-Footprint elements for their shops.
The retail calculator developed for GPT provides a tangible, standardized metric by which the impact of different design possibilities can be compared. It translates commercial design elements into detailed accounts of material use and generation of CO2 emissions, and often identifies cost and impact saving options. The calculator allows GPT to identify target areas for major ecological performance improvement and has allowed the company to measure progress towards its sustainability goal in terms of Footprint reductions.
Swiss investment firm Pictet Asset Management has developed a new type of country bond fund: one which rates countries based on their ability to provide a high quality of life at a minimal ecological cost.
While typical bond ratings tend to favor those countries with the highest income levels (and, often, the highest Ecological Footprints) Pictet’s rating system flows investment to countries that are developing along a more sustainable path. Using a ratio of Ecological Footprint to U.N. Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of human well-being, the bonds evaluate countries based upon how high a standard of living is provided per unit of nature.
Over the last several years, there has been a growing interest in “Socially Responsible Investment” (SRI) as people think not only about their financial legacy but also about the type of world they will leave to future generations, according to Pictet Sustainability Expert Christoph Butz. Yet, while interest in SRI has grown, there are a limited number of SRI bond and fixed-income products on the market.
The new sustainable bond rating has been already fully implemented in client portfolios, for instance for Geneva-based Ethos, an investment foundation that regroups over eighty small and large Swiss pension funds.
See our newsletter article “Which Government Bonds Have the Highest Ecological Return-on-Investment?”
One of Switzerland’s leading private banking institutions, Bank Sarasin has developed a unique way of evaluating sovereign bonds using ecological performance as a key factor. Sarasin has developed a “Sustainability Matrix for Countries,” which, in addition to traditional means of evaluating bonds, rates countries in two additional areas: resource efficiency and resource availability. Those countries that meet a certain sustainability threshold – including many Northern European and Latin American countries – can be considered for inclusion in the bank’s investment portfolios, while those that do not, including countries like the U.S. and many oil-rich Gulf states, are excluded.
As ecological pressures intensify, the bank says, resource-scarcity will emerge as a growing risk factor for government stability and bond performance. The sustainability ratings will seek to improve bond funds performance or, at a minimum, minimize resource-related risk.
Learn more about Sarasin's sustainability ratings. Read more about the innovative "Sustainable fulfilment of sovereign obligations" study.
Download the presentation on the bond funds given by Sarasin Bank representative Balacz Magyar at the Footprint Forum 2010 conference.
Read our blog: Footprint-influenced Bond Ratings Win Key Finance Award
SITA, a part of the SUEZ Group, is one of largest waste management companies in France. The waste collection business in the Europe Union has become highly competitive and companies like SITA are seeking new ways to provide greater customer satisfaction at lower cost. SITA was looking for a tool to use as an internal operations indicator that could also be used as a tool to communicate with stakeholders – from citizens to policymakers to businesses.
Global Footprint Network, in partnership with Angenius and Médiation & Environnement, created an interactive tool for calculating the Footprint of the waste collection portion of SITA’s operations. SITA uses the Footprint calculator to analyze their operation systems and determine how to lower their Footprint and increase their operations efficiency (and reduce costs, especially in waste transport). SITA also uses the Ecological Footprint as a conceptual tool to help them and their customers understand the ecological value of waste as an opportunity for creating Footprint savings and recovering resources. By creating and actively marketing their Footprint calculator (see an online version here, in French) and embracing the Footprint conceptual framework, SITA has successfully marketed themselves as green waste managers and can better compete for waste management bids in their industry.