Ecological Footprint Image Orange Footprint Network News
Issue 27, November 30, 2011 

New Report Explores Links Between Resource Constraints and Economic Performance
Our Global Footprint at Eye on Earth Summit
Bringing the Footprint to Southeast Asia
The Real Wealth of Nations Geneva Launch
Technology Alone Is Not the Answer
Partner Network Updates
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About Global Footprint Network
Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.

New Report Explores Links Between Resource Constraints and Economic Performance

How does being in ecological deficit affect a country’s economic performance? The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States invited Global Footprint Network to answer this question for countries in their region.

The report, Resource Constraints and Economic Performance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia was prepared by Mathis Wackernagel, Kyle Gracey, and other Global Footprint Network staff members, examines how being in biocapacity deficit might affect the economic competitiveness of nations. “Biocapacity” is the ability of nature to produce useful materials and absorb waste such as carbon dioxide emissions. The report combined data on Ecological Footprint and biocapacity with information on countries’ debt levels, prices for fossil fuels and basic foods, and relative Gross National Income (GNI) compared to the rest of the world. Together, these values help to show whether a country in the region might be at increasing economic risk from rising prices, or declining supplies of natural resources.



Our research suggests that many nations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are at increasing financial risk from being in biocapacity deficit. Their growing Ecological Footprint combined with large portions of income spent on basic goods, such as food and electricity, and sometimes high government debt, means that they are vulnerable to a world of declining biological resources.

The good news is that these nations have a tremendous opportunity to change their path. By restoring the balance between their Ecological Footprints and the world’s biocapacity and by focusing on long-term investments in sustainable infrastructure, social services, and ecosystem restoration, Eastern European and Central Asian countries could build long-term wealth for their populations. This UNDP report is the next effort in a series of Global Footprint Network initiatives focusing on how countries can improve their financial competitiveness by living within the means of what the planet can provide. Just as spending more than your salary provides can hurt your financial wealth, nations lose when they spend more biological wealth than nature renews each year.

The report was enthusiastically received by UNDP. They invited Lead Scientist Gemma Cranston to present its key findings at an inter-agency United Nations meeting in Turin, Italy. The meeting was held to establish key messages on sustainable development for the entire European region, and to create a plan of how best to elevate those messages at Rio+20. The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in late June 2012. The meeting participants held a lively debate on how to incorporate the findings of Global Footprint Network’s report into their goals for Rio+20.

The report for UNDP provided Global Footprint Network another opportunity to expand its growing economic competitiveness work. As more nations see financial risks from living beyond their biological means, the Ecological Footprint will become an even more valuable tool for securing nations’ long-term wealth.


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