Why Support Us?
Today, humanity's demand on nature, its Ecological Footprint, is over 25 percent greater than the planet's ability to meet this demand. It now takes the Earth one year and three months to regenerate what we use in a year. This global "ecological deficit" or "overshoot" is depleting the natural capital on which life depends.
The signs of this environmental degradation are everywhere. Collapsing fisheries, loss of forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the build-up of wastes and pollutants are just a few noticeable examples. If continued, overshoot will permanently reduce the Earth's ecological capacity and will lead to ecological collapse. While these trends affect us all, they are having a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy themselves out of the problem by getting resources from elsewhere.
To reverse this trend, it is imperative that individuals and institutions recognize the reality of ecological limits and make decisions consistent with these limits. By scientifically measuring the supply of and demand for ecological assets, the Ecological Footprint provides a resource accounting tool which reveals ecological limits, helps communicate the risk of overshoot, and facilitates sustainable management and preservation of the Earth's critical ecological assets.
Global Footprint Network
We launched Global Footprint Network in 2003 with the mission of ending global ecological overshoot by making ecological limits central to decision makers everywhere. We are doing this by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a tool which quantifies human demands on planet Earth and compares them to the planet's capacity to meet those demands.
Conceived in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, the Ecological Footprint is now used by over 100 cities and counties (in the US and abroad), numerous regional and national governments (such as Wales, EPA Victoria/Australia, and the Finnish Ministry of Environment) and agencies (such as the UN Population Fund, the European Commission, and the European Environment Agency) to inform their policies and planning, and manage ecological assets. Businesses and large NGOs like the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (with 50 regional government participants), ICLEI (with 475+ member local governments) and WWF (with 5 million supporters) use the Footprint as well. In 2005, the Footprint was selected by the International Convention on Biological Diversity as a key indicator for measuring progress towards the 2010 biodiversity targets.
Global Footprint Network can already claim significant accomplishments. Seventy-three organizations across the globe have joined our network as partners and support us in coordinating scientific research, developing Footprint application standards, and providing robust national accounts of resource demand and supply. Global Footprint Network also has many prominent scientists and public policy experts on its Advisory Council -- including Oscar Arias (President of Costa Rica), Professor Wangari Maathai (winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize), Professor E.O. Wilson (Harvard biologist), and present and former government ministers from Wales, Indonesia, Britain, and France.
In 2005, we published Europe 2005: The Ecological Footprint with WWF, marking the first time that Europe tracked its ecological spending. The report won the endorsement of Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, who wrote the foreword. In analyzing 25 European nations - home to 453 million citizens - the report concluded that currently Europe uses two and a half Europe's to support its natural resource demand. The report was distributed to 400 European Parliamentarians and was an input to the European Union's sustainable development strategy. In late 2005, Catherine Day, former Director General of the European Commission's "DG Environment" (the EU's "Ministry of Environment") and now Secretary General of the entire Commission, expressed her support for the Ecological Footprint and for Global Footprint Network's work. A similar report was launched in December 2005 covering the Asia Pacific region.
How can you help?
Building on Global Footprint Network's success over the past three years, we are seeking donors to help us realize our ambitious plans. We invite you to join with us in helping to protect the planet and in ending ecological overshoot. We would be happy to discuss Global Footprint Network's plans with you and to answer any questions you may have.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact:
Melissa Fondakowski, Fundraising Manager, at 510-839-8879, ext. 313.