After a rigorous, four year study of Ecological Footprint methodology, the European Commission has found the Footprint to be a useful indicator for assessing progress made toward the E.U.‘s sustainability goals. The Footprint is unique among the indicators, according to the Commission’s report, in particular for its ability to relate resource use to the concept of carrying capacity. The report also praised the Footprint as an “intuitively appealing indicator”, easy to communicate and understand.
The Commission began its evaluation of the Footprint as part of an effort to measure progress toward long-term sustainability goals. Recognizing that using resources more efficiently is crucial both to the region’s economic development and its positive role in the world, the European Commission set clear policy objectives to limit environmental impacts and enable greater resource efficiency. A key obstacle, however, has been the lack of suitable indicators to establish targets and measure progress.
In 2004, the Commission launched a study to evaluate the Ecological Footprint as an indicator, examining its advantages as well as its shortcomings. The study found the Footprint could be an effective tool for assessing and communicating progress toward objectives, especially when combined with a basket of complementary indicators. The study also noted areas where the indicator could potentially be improved, and identified a short-to-medium research agenda for advancing the National Footprint Accounts methodology.
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