“Politicians are caught in a dilemma between political suicide and ecological suicide,” Dr. Mathis Wackernagel told the gathering of 200 scientists, economists, and government and business leaders during Footprint Forum’s opening plenary session. What most policy-makers have failed to realize is that those countries that can maintain a positive ecological balance will have a large advantage in a world facing climate change and ecological limits, he said. United Nations Environment Programme representative Haroldo Mattos de Lemos put it another way: “Businesses plan for next decade. Governments plan for the next election.”
But some countries are already taking action to address their ecological balance sheet, and attendees heard from two such countries: the UAE which has very low biocapacity and yet has the highest per capita Ecological Footprint in the world, and Ecuador, which has an extremely rich biocapacity that it wants to maintain.