Global Footprint Network’s Oakland office hosted Ecuadorian colleagues (from left) Tamara Nacimba, Selene Défaz, Ana Karina Andrade, and Juan Carlos Baca Cabrera for a week of Ecological Footprint technical training in early May. To their right are members of Global Footprint Network’s Research & Standards team Elias Lazarus, Katsunori Iha, and Dharashree Panda.
Matrix algebra, IO table aggregation and oysters along a stretch of California seashore engaged members of Ecuador’s Planning Ministry and Environment Ministry during a recent week of technical training at Global Footprint Network’s Oakland office.
Though fifty years ago Ecuador’s ecological supply (biocapacity) vastly exceeded its population’s demand (Ecological Footprint), today’s situation is reverse. Determined to move out of ecological overshoot, in 2010 Ecuador became the first country to set a concrete Ecological Footprint target at a level within which its ecosystems can renew. Phase I involves updating Ecuador’s National Footprint Account (NFA) with national agencies’ data rather than international data.
Ecuadorian ministry representatives’ May visit to Global Footprint Network fulfilled three objectives: 1) data verification to ensure Ecological Footprint accuracy; 2) data interpretation to identify the calculations’ significance and potential changes; and 3) application to build a robust research agenda moving forward.
Through theoretical conversations and hands-on practical exercises, Global Footprint Network’s Research & Standards team immersed their Ecuadorian colleagues in the nitty-gritty details of the Ecological Footprint.
“We tailored the training to suit both ministries’ needs,” said Michael Borucke, Research Scientist at Global Footprint Network. “Adjusting to daily feedback made the training robust.”
Together they reviewed strategies to progress with Phase I, such as resolving their technical questions about forestry and fisheries data. Next the Ecuadorian team learned the framework of the Multi-Regional Input Output (MRIO) model that Global Footprint Network has developed for socioeconomic analyses. The bulk of the training focused on MRIO’s three results: 1) the consumption land use matrix that translates NFA results to sub-national results, particularly useful for Ecological Footprint analyses of Ecuador’s 24 provinces; 2) Ecological Footprint analysis by industry or sector, particularly useful for Ecuador to determine its tourism Ecological Footprint; and 3) in-depth trade analysis, particularly useful to track Ecuador’s supply chains.
“We had the opportunity to share with an excellent team that is really interested in working to preserve our planet,” said Selene Défaz, environmental engineer in the Environment Ministry.
The Ecuadorian ministry representatives set a research priority to complete Phase I by December 2013 with an accompanying technical paper. Many of their conversations centered on how to generate further academic research and communicate the value of Ecological Footprint accounting with colleagues in other Ecuadorian ministries.
Having gained such a solid understanding of how to bridge between both NFA and MRIO analyses, next year Ecuador will embark on Phase II, analyzing sub-national Ecological Footprints with the consumption land use matrix model.
This research, said Ana Karina Andrade, environmental engineer in the Environment Ministry, “will guide us so we can suggest some actions to reduce the Ecological Footprint of our country.”
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