Footprint Network Blog - 08/2011
Finding the sweet spot between low Footprint and high human development amounts to the biggest business opportunity ever seen, World Business Council for Sustainable Development President Bjorn Stigson told the Sydney Morning Herald this week.
What is required for sustainable development is lifting billions out of poverty while reducing resource use by four to ten times, the article said. This is, according to Stigson, is a necessary but unprecedented transformation, larger and faster than the Industrial Revolution. It is an enormous challenge. But whoever “wins” the green race will dominate the future would economy, and right now, China is winning, Stigson said.
Read the full article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel will join Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and other speakers at a United Nations meeting of global financial leaders in Washington, D.C. this fall addressing the link between financial stability and environmental sustainability.
The biannual meeting of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Global Roundtable is a high-level conference that draws a select group of 600 banking, insurance and investment leaders and global thinkers for an intensive, two-day dialogue. This year’s discussion is positioned to channel the views of the financial services sector into the discussions at the so-called “Rio + 20” Conference, a UN summit that will gather world leaders in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years after the original Rio Earth Summit.
Global Footprint has launched a comprehensive review and update of its Ecological Footprint Standards, to be released in 2012. The standards (available here) establish best practices to govern the use and applicability of the Footprint method, allowing users everywhere to employ the Footprint across a wide range of approaches and applications while maintaining consistency, credibility, and integrity of results.
Global Footprint Network partner Bank Sarasin has been honored with the City of London’s Sustainable City Award for its innovative financial analysis using Ecological Footprint accounting as a credit risk factor in assessing government bonds.
The judges chose the Swiss banking firm as the overall winner for “research into how being green affects a nations’ growth prospects,” according to a press release issued by the prize committee. “This ‘green is good for the economy’ message is all the more powerful for having come from a bank rather than an NGO.”
In 2010, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) teamed up with Global Footprint Network to explore the Ecological Footprint of San Francisco, a city that prides itself on leading the US in forward-thinking sustainability policies.
Our current economic and pricing mechanisms simply don’t square with physical reality: that is the hypothesis of two new, widely-celebrated books, which lead with Global Footprint Network statistics.
The ecological facts on the ground are clear, environmental scientist Lester Brown attests in his book World On the Edge, which he was writing as heat-induced wildfires vaporized almost half of Russia’s wheat harvest, put a fifth of Pakistan underwater and sent food prices spiraling. Yet economic policies continue to be based upon an endless supply of cheap and available natural resources. It’s a disconnect he likens to the theories of astronomy in the days just before Copernicus.
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, covering the Pacific Southwest, has contracted Global Footprint Network to conduct an Ecological Footprint analysis of California, which will be the first such in-depth look at the Footprint of a US state. The agency plans to incorporate the Ecological and water Footprints into a dashboard of sustainability indicators. EPA’s Region 9 serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands and 147 Tribes.
Global Footprint Network’s data will contribute to an analysis that will explore issues such as how much of harvested land is irrigated, how much of California’s biocapacity is occupied by built-up land, and what are the main drivers of ecological demand in the state. It will also explore new areas in Footprint and biocapacity research, such as how demand on biological and water resources could affect the state’s ecological productivity.
Earlier this year, Visualizing.org, acreative community working to use data and design to help communicate complex issues, presented a challenge: How to illustrate the value of nature and our use of nature’s services. The group joined up with TEEB (the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), a UN-sponsored effort to put a dollar figure on nature’s services such as providing fuel, food, water and habitat, by assessing both their economic benefits and the costs associated with their depletion.
The winning entry for the challenge used Global Footprint Network data to show the relationship between countries’ ecological demand, their biocapacity and the size of their deficit or reserve. Check it out here: http://www.visualizing.org/stories/visualizing-value-nature
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Investing just 2 percent of global GDP to green key sectors of the economy could cut humanity’s Ecological Footprint almost in half while actually boosting economic growth, according to a new report by the United Nations Environmental Programme.
The report cites Global Footprint Network data as evidence of the challenge humanity has faced in improving human welfare without also incurring large increases in ecological demand.