Ecuador has become the first country to set a concrete Ecological Footprint target. The country has included the goal in its National Plan that, by 2013, its Ecological Footprint will be within its biocapacity, a trend that it will maintain going forward.
“Ecuador wants to be a leading country [in] officially using the Ecological Footprint as a resource accounting tool for policy and decision-making,” Ecuador Environment Advisor Dania Quirola Suárez said in a roundtable side-event with Global Footprint Network at the Copenhagen climate talks.
In the past five decades, Ecuador has seen a vast ecological surplus evaporate. In 1961, the country had biocapacity more than four times greater than its Ecological Footprint; today, however, its Ecological Footprint is very close to its biocapacity and would quickly surpass it if current trends continued. While the average Ecological Footprint per person has remained relatively constant, the amount of biocapacity per person has declined as population has grown—a trend a recent educational video likened to a household that must share a fixed budget among a growing number of family members.
The government’s Ecological Footprint goal is aimed at ensuring that Ecuador does not move into overshoot. The country also has a Presidential mandate to develop physical indicators that can better track environmental performance and support decision making. Planning officials are seeking not only to use Ecological Footprint data in their own decision-making but to contribute research and expertise that will enable policy-makers elsewhere to follow suit.
“This step shows that Ecuador’s leaders understand the true value of their country’s natural wealth and its importance in providing a high quality of life for its citizens,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Global Footprint Network Director of Strategic Initiatives, who has worked closely with Ecuador in developing its goal. “They recognize that ultimately, managing biocapacity will enable them to provide for their people’s long-term well-being much more effectively than simply liquidating those resources.”