Ecological Creditors and Debtors
Today, more than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that use more resources than what is renewably available within their own borders. These countries rely for their needs on resource surpluses concentrated in ecological creditor countries, which use less biocapacity than they have. By comparison, in 1961, the vast majority of countries around the globe had ecological surpluses. Those numbers have slowly dwindled; meanwhile, the pressure on the remaining biocapacity reserves continues to grow.
As resource pressures escalate, ecological wealth will play an increasing role in determining countries’ competitiveness and its citizens’ ability to lead secure, rewarding lives. Through collaboration, countries can better secure the value of their natural resources and build incentives for maintaining those assets, a benefit to both their own citizens and to the global economy that relies upon these resources.
Is the Ecological Creditor/Debtor Framework Anti-trade?
In a globalized economy, trade is a fact of life. Though we’ve introduced the concept of ecological creditors and debtors, we do not mean to imply, by comparing a population’s consumption with its own biocapacity that countries “should” consume within their own borders and not engage in global trade. But just as a trade deficit can be a liability, so can a biocapacity deficit – in particular if, or because of, that deficit, a country finds itself at risk of depleting its own natural capital, incurring higher costs for importing resources from elsewhere, or facing costs for emitting CO2 into the global commons.
Our Ecological Creditor and Debtor Initiative seeks not to discourage trade but, rather, to enable countries to see the benefit in reducing their resource dependence on the one hand, and increasing or maintaining ecological reserves on the other.