To increase the effectiveness of the Ecological Footprint as a tool for promoting ecological, social and economic sustainability, Global Footprint Network engages in the following activities:

Research and Development

All Ecological Footprint analyses are based on the National Footprint Accounts. These are detailed calculations on a nation-by-nation basis that provide the information essential for accurate Footprint analyses at any scale. We serve as the steward of these accounts, revising them annually to reflect current data and new developments in science. We also collaborate with academic institutions and other research organizations to refine this data and to further the science underlying the Footprint accounts. In consultation with our partners, research is also undertaken to sharpen processes for communicating and applying the Footprint methodology and to develop new, innovative applications. Our research efforts are guided by a Science and a Policy Advisory Council which includes both policy practitioners and leading scientists in fields such as ecology, biology, economics and political science.

Outreach and Community Building

We bring together the worldwide community of those using the Ecological Footprint, providing a forum where practitioners and scientists from academia, government, business and NGOs can pool their experience using this tool to promote sustainability. Here, Global Footprint Network partners share research findings, new applications of the methodology, tools that have been developed, effective communications strategies and practical results. We use our website, public lectures, media appearances and publications to reach out to current and prospective partners, as well as to the general public.

Education, Training and Application Support

To improve the quality, effectiveness and range of Footprint applications, we provide training courses, workshops and educational materials. We also work with partners who are engaging in Footprint projects, helping them to develop effective Footprint campaigns. In collaboration with academic institutions, we help develop research initiatives and educational programs.


The Ecological Footprint serves as a powerful lever for fostering sustainability by providing a common language and a clearly defined and scientifically valid way of measuring human demand on a planet with limited resources. This power is dependent on Footprint analyses being conducted consistently and rigorously, and results reported in a straightforward and non-misleading manner. To meet this goal, we are working with the Footprint community to establish ever improving, transparent quality standards for Ecological Footprint accounting and communication of findings. These standards will be reviewed and approved by a committee drawn from the Science and Policy Advisory Council. Eventually, an independent certification body will provide third-party auditing of Footprint assessments.