Footprint Network Blog

Can Educating Girls Also Ease Environmental Pressures?

06/15/2010 11:18 PM

Among the many benefits of educating girls in Africa is its potential for reducing population pressure, Camfed International Director Ann Cotton said at the Footprint Forum Conference public day. Girls’ education has moved center stage from being viewed as a gender and equality issue to one that is increasingly seen as central to global security and the elimination of poverty, Cotton said.  “Every child is born to a mother, and when a child is born to a mother who is not educated, that child is at a disadvantage from the start.”

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Governments Buying Foreign Land to Insure Food Security

06/12/2010 11:18 PM

The world’s economic powers are engaged in a new wave of outsourcing – one that poses a stark distinction with that of manufacturing in the 1980s, and information technology in the 1990s, according to a recent report in The Economist (“Buying Farmland Abroad: Outsourcing’s Third Wave,” May 23, 2009). Concerned by recent world food shortages, rich governments are buying up tracks of land in foreign (mostly low-income) countries to ensure continued access to food and other vital agricultural resources.

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Feeding 9 Billion Is Possible but Not Easy

06/10/2010 11:23 AM

Feeding the 9 billion people projected by mid-century is possible, but doing so will require major economic and political changes, Juan Gonzales-Valero of agri-business leader Syngenta said on the second day at the conference. Gonzales-Valero presented the findings of Vision 2050, an effort by the World Business Council of Sustainable Development, representing 29 of the world’s most influential companies, to develop pathways to a one-planet economy by 2050.

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Are we headed for a no-growth world economy?

06/10/2010 11:19 AM

The world is headed toward a no-growth economy, but how the transition is managed will make the difference between whether that correction is drastic or benign. This warning came from economist Hannes Kunzon tat a plenary discussion on rethinking growth. “We don’t have to rethink growth,” Kunz said. “Growth is going to go away.”

Download Hannes Kunz’ presentation.

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Countries with Healthy Ecological Balance Sheets May Be Better Able to Pay Back Debts

06/09/2010 11:26 AM

Countries with healthy ecological balance sheets make for safer investments and will be better able to meet their debt obligations—so says Balacz Magyar, a representative of Swiss-based private banking firm Sarasin Bank. The bank, with 63.2 billion worth of assets under management, has implemented a system of rating country bonds based on sustainability and Ecological Footprint. Countries are required to meet a minimum resource efficiency and availability threshold to be eligible for inclusion in certain portfolios. “We believe that only these countries will be able to pursue the economic activities they will need to pay back their debts in the long-run,” said Balazs Magyar, Head of Sustainable Investment Portfolio Management for Sarasin. High foreign and public debt means conceding future resources to someone else, he said, and the issue is similar for ecological as for economic debt.

Read more about Sarasin’s Sustainability Ratings.


The End of the Cheap Oil Era

06/09/2010 08:17 AM

There is no cheap-oil future for us, and if humanity doesn’t make the transition to a sustainable energy source, Mother Nature will.  Robert Rapier, Chief Technology Officer of Merica International, issued this warning during an opening presentation at Footprint Forum aimed at providing a briefing in some of the ways we are hitting ecological limits.

According to Rapier, we are reaching the point at which rising human demand for oil is outpacing our ability to discover new sources of oil. As populations grows and large segments of humanity seek to improve their standard of living, supply will simply not be able to keep up with demand, driving the price of oil up and availability down.

According to Rapier, peak oil—when oil production rates begin an irreversible decline – will have a direct effect on global warming. “When there’s a decline in oil production, the first thing we do is turn to coal plants and tar sands,” he said. “We will demand that because we have built a society on cheap oil. But eventually fossil fuels will run out.” That would address the problem of climate change, he said, but most likely not in the way people would like to see it solved.

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Forum Opens With Examples of Nations Leading the Way

06/09/2010 07:39 AM

“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.


New Bond Ratings Look at Ecological Risk

06/03/2010 10:47 PM

Swiss-based Bank Sarasin has developed a new country bond rating that could shift the way investors think about sovereign bonds – and the way governments think about their own ecological balance sheets. The evaluation is based upon a simple, but somewhat novel premise: given current ecological trends, a country’s use and availability of resources will play an important role in its ability to make good on future debt obligations.

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Huge Response to Call for Abstracts

06/03/2010 10:37 PM

Global Footprint Network’s Call for Abstracts for the Footprint Forum Conference received an overwhelming response, with more than 90 abstracts submitted. Copies of the abstracts will be soon be available for download from our Web.

Ten abstracts were selected to be presented at the Forum, and many more will be presented in poster form. Topics include:

• Integrated the Ecological Footprint into a “Footprint Family” of Indicators
• Interregional cap and Trade Using the Ecological Footprint
• Managing Trade with Ecological Footprint Analysis
• Ecological Footprint vs. Biocapacity of world regions: A Geopolitical Interpretation



O Eco Association: “9 Countries, 1 Forest, 1 Coverage”

06/03/2010 10:30 PM

“Amazonia is news. It concerns everyone,” award-winning online news service O Eco Amazonia writes on its Web site. In 2004, the O Eco Association was launched with the goal of providing decision-makers up-to-date information on this critical ecological region.

During the last five years, the Web site has grown into one of the most celebrated environmental news services in Brazil. Now, it has joined Global Footprint Network as a partner. Through the collaboration, O Eco will host a monthly column by Global Footprint Network on regional topics including the Ecological Footprint, sugarcane ethanol, the Brazilian Century, and “biocapacity issues: Mexico vs. Brazil.” The site will also feature the Brazilian personal Ecological Footprint calculator.

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