Envisioning a sustainable Mediterranean region
October Newsletter Article 1
How can Mediterranean societies thrive in an era of decreasing resources?
This is the question explored by Global Footprint Network in its latest study launched today at an event in Barcelona, Spain. As it turns out, resource demand and carbon emissions in the Mediterranean region are large and growing, with many countries achieving high human development but at an environmental cost. The countries that demand fewer resources, meanwhile, fall short of key human development goals.
Since 2000, most Mediterranean countries have achieved high development (above 0.7) as measured by the U.N. Human Development Index (HDI). Today only Morocco and Egypt have an HDI score less than 0.7, although their scores are also rising. (See chart below.)
But, in all cases, this development has been accompanied by a higher Ecological Footprint, which represents the competing demands a population puts on the planet’s productive surfaces, including food, fiber, timber, carbon dioxide sequestration and space for infrastructure.
At current population levels, our planet provides only 1.8 global hectares (gha) of biologically productive surface area per person. Thus, although nations’ resources vary widely, the average Ecological Footprint per person worldwide needs to fall significantly below this threshold to accommodate larger human populations and also provide space for wild species to thrive. However, the majority of Mediterranean countries (except Palestine, Morocco and Syria) have a per capita Footprint up to 1.5 times higher than this 1.8 gha threshold.
"On the heels of the United Nations approving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals last month, it is encouraging to see that human development for all Mediterranean countries has been climbing," said Alessandro Galli, Mediterranean region director of Global Footprint Network. "However, truly fulfilling the vision of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development—ensuring a high quality of life without degrading the environment—requires taking full account of physical limits at all levels of decision-making."
The new Mediterranean study also notes that increasingly protein-intensive diets are among the contributors to the region’s growing Ecological Footprint. Based on a Footprint analysis of 12 cities, housing and transportation in cities stand out as major opportunities to build a more sustainable Mediterranean region.
Learn more about our Mediterranean study here.
October Newsletter Article 2
Letter from the Philippines
How the world’s most populated area plans for the future on the frontline of devastating typhoons
Neric Acosta, the Philippines Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection and General Manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, brought his booming voice and infectious laughter to the California office of Global Footprint Network last month. An active, long-time partner and supporter of our work, he shared a first-hand account of the challenges facing the Manila region in times of population boom and climate change. His optimism in the face of tremendous adversity put an extra bounce in our step. We hope it does to yours too.
Read our “Top 5 Favorite Moments with Neric Acosta” in a blog post here.
Letter from Chile
From an ecological creditor to an ecological debtor
Recyclápolis Foundation honored Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, co-founder and president of Global Footprint Network, with its National Sustainability Award “for his outstanding career and contributions to innovation and environment.” Now in its second year, the National Sustainability Award was presented by Recyclápolis in partnership with Chile’s leading national newspaper, El Mercurio (its interview with Wackernagel is featured here) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
During a keynote speech, Wackernagel noted that Chile posted an ecological deficit—with demand for renewable natural resources exceeding supply—for the first time ever in 2011, the latest date data is available. Chile now demands 1.1 times what its ecosystems can provide to sustain its current consumption. Put differently, it would take 2.3 Earths to meet humanity’s demand for renewable natural resources and carbon sequestration if everyone on the planet lived like the average Chilean. Read more
October Newsletter Article 3
Ecological Footprint data received an eye-opening visual treatment in a recent article in Geographical Magazine, by Benjamin Hennig, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Using Ecological Footprint data in the latest Happy Planet Index, Hennig resized a map of the world to reflect each nation’s Ecological Footprint per capita and global population distribution. He then added a traffic light color scheme to reflect the number of planets that would be needed if the world as a whole lived the lifestyle of each country.
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Just yesterday, this nation went into national ecological deficit –its citizens’ demand for food, timber and carbon dioxide absorption now exceeds what the nation’s ecosystems can renew over the full year. According to legend, kissing the stone at a popular tourist destination in this country is said to give the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness. This nation is also known for brewing an iconic stout that is one of the most successful beers worldwide.
Now, can you identify this nation?
(Find the answer by clicking here.)
October Newsletter Article 4
Our Senior Scientist Alessandro Galli will be speaking Nov. 16 at the Eighth Annual Conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) in Beirut. A contributor to the AFED 2015 Report on Sustainable Consumption and Better Resource Management in Arab Countries (with a special focus this year on energy, water and food), Galli will share his findings on the food Footprint of Mediterranean countries.