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Issue 44, September 2, 2015  

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About Global Footprint Network
Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.

Advisory Council
E.O. Wilson
Manfred Max-Neef
Rhodri Morgan
David Suzuki
Emil Salim
Julia Marton-Lefèvre
William E. Rees
Lester Brown
Jorgen Randers
M S Swaminathan
Daniel Pauly
Eric Garcetti
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Michael Meacher
Karl-Henrik Robèrt
Will Steffen
Dominique Voynet
Fabio Feldman
Oscar Arias
Peter Raven
Mick Bourke
Norman Myers
Gus Speth
Stephen Groff
Thomas E. Lovejoy

Earth Overshoot Day, a year-long conversation

In 2015 Earth Overshoot Day raised global public awareness of natural resource constraints to new heights. More than 30 organizations joined our efforts to spread the word about natural resource constraints on the new website, helping raise Earth Overshoot Day-related page views by 18 percent over last year.

This year’s message on the drastic impact of carbon on the Ecological Footprint afforded the campaign its biggest U.S. mainstream media coverage to date. It made its way into National Geographic, Newsweek, TIME and Discovery News, among others. For the first time ever, USA Today devoted its front cover’s daily snapshot to Earth Overshoot Day, while The Washington Post finally gave the campaign a nod. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t resist giving his signature outraged opinion in a long rant targeted at eco-conscious Millennials.

In India, leading daily The Hindu published a joint op-ed of Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network, and Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati, the former Chairman of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA).

Word traveled to Chile and Australia, and many places in between, including Brazil, Argentina, Africa and the United Arab Emirates (a nation who has had a long commitment to sustainable development, enjoying the support of the Global Footprint Network.)

Once again, Earth Overshoot Day found its most receptive audience in Europe. In the UK, The Guardian’s article was shared by some 35,000 people on social media and received more than 460 comments. Italy’s leading national newspapers La Repubblica and La Stampa joined the chorus. In France, where local media has been anticipating COP21, the U.N. Climate Summit scheduled to take place in Paris this December, the carbon focus of Earth Overshoot Day 2015 was widely received. Coverage in flagship national dailies Le Monde and Les Echos, as well as a dispatch by newswire Agence France Presse, helped create a flurry of more than 160 new items—including on a primetime national radio news program where Dr. Wackernagel was interviewed.

In Russia, Earth Overshoot Day caused a media buzz thanks to an original event that was conceived and executed by WWF-Russia. On August 13, readers of free daily Metro and patrons at various restaurants and shops in Moscow were handed a "bill from the planet Earth." The initiative drew camera crews and photographers.

Stay tuned as grows as the platform that nurtures and expands the global conversation about natural resource constraints leading up to COP21 and beyond. And please keep supporting our effort by sharing on your social media as much as you are able. Two other items also worth sharing:

1) This short Earth Overshoot Day animation video by Alex Magnin: At more than 28,000 views (and counting), it is by far the most viewed of all videos produced by Sustainability Illustrated, and we believe it holds the potential to reach a much bigger audience;

2) This wonderful online exhibit of artwork curated by partner Art Works for Change just for Earth Overshoot Day.

Finally, please check out our new Ecological Footprint infographics, which let you explore our data in many different, engaging ways.

"Celebrating" U.S. Ecological Deficit Day

The global Earth Overshoot Day campaign came on the heels of a similar initiative focused on just the United States in July, when we released our first-ever State of the States report detailing the Ecological Footprint of the 50 state and the District of Columbia. Overall, the population of the United States is using twice the renewable natural resources and services that can be regenerated within its borders. The carbon footprint of the average American is substantially higher than that of citizens in many other countries, including Germany, Russia and China.

As could be expected, however, resource consumption and availability varies dramatically state by state. For instance, the states with the largest per-person Ecological Footprints are Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Alaska, Texas and Michigan are the most resource-abundant states based on biocapacity, a measure of bioproductive land. California, Texas and Florida have the highest ecological deficits, while Alaska, South Dakota and Montana have the greatest ecological reserves. You may find these colorful maps by National Geographic helpful. More media coverage is here. Our full report is here.

Ecological Footprint in Action

We were very pleased to collaborate with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Collaborating Center on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), incorporating metrics from the State of the States report into WBCSD’s Sustainable Lifestyles USA workshop. The State of the States Report was sent out as a background document to participants, and metrics from Global Footprint Network and CSCP were used to demonstrate the impacts of US lifestyles in the presentation materials. Hosted by Whirlpool at its ReNEWW House at Purdue University in Indiana, the event gathered executives from member companies of WBCSD’s Sustainable Lifestyles working group including 3M, Brisa, ERM, Firmenich, Havas, Novozymes, P&G and PwC.

Footprinting in China’s most biodiversity-rich province

Earlier this summer Global Footprint Network and the Environmental Protection Department of the province of Guizhou kicked off Phase I of a program funded by the Swiss government to foster sustainable development through resource efficiency in China’s poorest and most biodiversity-rich province. Guizhou is a mountainous region where urban development, transportation and agriculture are challenging. Its government is looking to position the province as a model of the Eco-Civilization vision that was introduced in November 2013 at the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. It is relying on the recent Sino-Swiss free trade agreement to learn from its partner’s development successes. Switzerland has found ways to produce high value on limited resources, taking advantage of the mountains that cover 65 percent of its territory. Examples are high-end tourism, specialty foods, health and wellness, hydro-power, and transportation technology such as cable cars. The Ecological Footprint assessment report is expected by early 2016. Phase II will focus on development strategy and policy-making designed around natural resource constraints.

Guiding sustainable tourism in Montenegro

Montenegro, a popular tourist destination rich in forests and biodiversity, is using 45 percent more renewable natural resources than the nation's ecosystems can regenerate, according to 2015 data calculated by Global Footprint Network using recently implemented "nowcasting" methodology. However, Montenegrins’ consumption of natural resources and services is better matched to the nation’s capacity to supply them than most other European countries.

Those are some of the preliminary findings that Global Footprint Network’s Dr. Alessandro Galli presented at a press conference with the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro in July in Podgoria. The results of Global Footprint Network’s analysis will contribute to the revision of Montenegro’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development, which the government will complete in December.

"We see the Ecological Footprint study of Montenegro as an important element in ensuring socio-economic development succeeds without putting additional pressure on our fragile ecosystems, thus supporting Montenegro in its path to sustainability," said Jelena Knezevic, Head of the Division for Sustainable Development and Integrated Management of Sea and Coastal Area, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro.

A Footprint training for government officials and data experts from MONSTAT (the Montenegrin Statistical Institute) is to be held in mid-September to build local capacity on the Ecological Footprint methodology. The final report on the Ecological Footprint of Montenegro is expected by early October.

From the Publications Department

Our 2014 Annual Report is now available! Over the course of 2014, Global Footprint Network engaged with 39 nations, 11 sub-national entities and 21 international organizations to help reduce ecological overshoot and support global sustainability. Our Finance For Change program reached a new milestone with the launch of ERISC (Environmental Risk Integration in Sovereign Credit) Phase II, a research project that evaluates the impact of natural resource constraints on country trade-related risk, with a special focus on food. Stay tuned as the Phase II report is expected later this year. Another highlight is the launch of our Sustainable Development Return on Investment pilot project in India. The tool empowers local communities to manage their own socioeconomic development, while helping funders of development projects measure lasting impact.

Read more in our 2014 annual report.

With the back-to-school season in full swing, we’re excited to bring two new books featuring the Ecological Footprint to your attention. The Ecological Footprint: New Developments in Policy and Practice by Andrea Collins and Andrew Flynn, both of Cardiff University, is a must-read for anyone—including students and policy makers—interested in Ecological Footprint research and its applications, especially in the United Kingdom. The book highlights Wales and its capital, Cardiff, as an early adopter of the Ecological Footprint among its headline indicators of sustainability.

In a more personal work, longtime Global Footprint Network friend Peter Seidel, author of There Is Still Time, looks at the big picture of environmental challenges on our planet, while aiming to inspire readers to act and make progress toward sustainability.

From Our Blog

What are the challenges to "buen vivir," or good living, in Ecuador? Freddy Ehlers, minister of Ecuador’s Buen Vivir program, answered this and other questions during a recent visit to Global Footprint Network’s Oakland offices. Over the course of his 40-year career, Ehlers has worked as a journalist, documentary film producer, Andean community secretary general and Ecuadorian minister of tourism. Our Q&A with Ehlers is here.

Can You Guess This Country?

In honor of a Global Footprint Network research team member who is an avid volleyball player, this month’s quiz exhibit is the graph of the nation where the Men’s Volleyball World Cup is to take place this week. This nation’s famous cuisine revolves around fish and seafood, and is a favorite by many the world over.

Now, can you identify this nation?

(Find the answer by clicking here.)

To learn more about this country and over 180 other countries, download our FREE Public Data Package.

Footprint Family News

Global Footprint Network co-founders Mathis Wackernagel and Susan Burns recently increased their household Footprint with Chester, their hypo-allergenic labradoodle puppy. "Chester is actually helping us reduce our Footprint as we can no longer fly around that much," states Mathis. "We won’t confirm until the numbers are in," counters Susan. Both agree, however, that their furry bundle of joy is well worth the data anxiety.