Helping China build an Ecological Civilization
July 2016 newsletter article 1
What will it take to create an economy that operates in harmony with nature? That question is at the core of President Xi Jinping’s vision of transforming China into an ecological civilization. In this context, Global Footprint Network together with the Province of Guizhou lay down the foundation of a sustainable development assessment for the mountainous, biodiversity-rich, low-income enclave. The initiative was sponsored by the province as well as the government of Switzerland. Check out the recently launched "Guizhou Footprint Report: Metrics for an Ecological Civilization" here.
Global Footprint Network is no newcomer in China. Thanks in part to our close relationship with the China Academy of Sciences (IGSNRR), papers on the Ecological Footprint have been published by the dozen in international scientific journals by Chinese academics. And Global Footprint Network is seeking to accelerate the Chinese academic leadership in applying and furthering Ecological Footprint accounting. We have dedicated a web platform to China at www.zujiwangluo.org.
Our work in Guizhou also builds on the China Ecological Footprint Reports that WWF China has produced since 2008 in collaboration with Global Footprint Network. Together, Global Footprint Network and WWF China are approaching other provinces in China, including Sichuan, about incorporating the Ecological Footprint into their work.
July 2016 newsletter article 2
Kyoto City just became Japan’s first local government to assess its Ecological Footprint, thanks to a collaborative project that includes Global Footprint Network and WWF Japan. Kyoto’s Ecological Footprint is 10 percent lower than that of Japan, thanks in part to a relatively temperate climate (positive impact of energy consumption). Kyoto City’s urban density also favors high walkability, a heavily used public transit system, and more apartment-type dwellings than the national average. Carbon emissions still make up 64% of Kyoto City’s Ecological Footprint. The report (available here) highlights establishing strict carbon reduction targets as the main path towards reducing the Ecological Footprint.
July 2016 newsletter article 3
Less than three weeks to go before humanity has used up the renewable natural resources that Earth can generate this whole year… Since launching our #pledgefortheplanet campaign on Earth Day, we’ve issued six challenges to create a more sustainable world—one individual, one day, one sustainable choice at a time. Check them out, learn about the biggest contributors to your Ecological Footprint, share the info with your friends and urge them to make a pledge for sustainability too!
After you make a pledge (or pledges!) here, be sure post a photo on our crowd-sourced map here when you fulfill the pledge to enter the photo contest for a chance to win a GoPro Session camera!
July 2016 newsletter article 4
What can Costa Rica teach us?
The small Central American country has again topped the Happy Planet Index (HPI) rankings with a substantial lead, as announced July 20 by our partner the New Economics Foundation in the UK. The HPI uses data on Ecological Footprint, life expectancy and well-being in order to measure the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for their residents.
Costa Rica is among the countries that boasts the greatest biodiversity in the world. It is especially worth noting that people living there enjoy higher wellbeing than the residents of many rich nations, including the USA and the UK, and live longer than people in the USA. Furthermore, all of this is achieved with an Ecological Footprint per capita that’s just one third of the American Ecological Footprint, and a GDP per capita that is less than a quarter of that of many Western European and North American countries.
July 2016 newsletter article 4.5
How do we measure sustainable development? Two indexes, two very different views
Wednesday was a busy day for launching new country rankings. In addition to the Happy Planet Index, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) released a 427-page report ranking countries by 77 indicators tied to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals approved last year. We thought it would be interesting to plot the top and bottom 10 countries from each index on our Ecological Footprint-Human Development Index graph. We conclude fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals is no guarantee for driving global sustainable development. Read more details in our blog post here.
Footprint Calculator Scores High Marks in High Schools
High schools around the world are starting to integrate the Footprint calculators into their curriculums. Governments and organizations, including the United Nations and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are also catching on to the importance of environmental education in meeting long-term sustainability goals.
Find out here why teachers and students alike flock to the Footprint calculator as a valuable teaching tool. And can you guess what the most significant impact on the young minds is?
Students at Sunny Hills High School, a public school in Fullerton, California, planting vegetables at the school farm. “After they saw how much transportation of food had an effect on their planet number, they realized the importance of locally grown produce and wanted to planet some for their families,” said teacher Robin Dick.
July 2016 newsletter article 5
The Ecological Footprint, together with the Human Development Index, got the nod in a recent research paper published by the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik. The article analyzes progress made in the European Union towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved last year and combines the Footprint and HDI of countries as a measure of SDG 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production. "Both are valued for their communicative power, and, all in all, the pathways towards the 'Global Sustainable Development Quadrant' can be considered for the time being as an overall proxy for the universal SDGs," its author stated. We’re looking forward to collaborating with governments as they move forward with strategies and relevant policies. Learn more about how these two measurements work together here.
The Mediterranean Ecological Footprint Initiative, by Global Footprint Network, was highlighted this month by the Center for Mediterranean Integration. As Mediterranean countries are struggling to move forward and do good on their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the article was the opportunity to stress that the battle for sustainability and climate change will be lost or won in cities (as WWF Ecological Footprint expert Carina Bergström-Hansson also explained in this talk recorded last year.)
Mathis Wackernagel featured in Global Sustain’s 2016 Yearbook
The co-founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network contributed a special guest article on resource constraints to Global Sustain’s 9th Yearbook entitled "Sustainable Consumption and Production: Towards a Circular Economy." Mathis Wackernagel is featured among 40 other global leaders (Nobel Laureates, academia, top experts, policy makers and CEOs) in the yearbook, published in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. In his article, Wackernagel makes the case for any city, region or country to carefully manage their natural resource dependence in order to secure resilience and economic stability. And he calls for the use of tools like the Ecological Footprint and our Net Present Value Plus (NPV+) method to identify where footprint reductions go hand in hand with financial gains. "Human ingenuity enables us to build a resource efficient economy that provides for a thriving society within the means of nature," Wackernagel writes. "In a world of climate change and resource constraints, such an economy will become any nation or region’s strongest asset."
July 2016 newsletter article 6
On 15 July, this country busted its annual ecological budget—its citizens' demand for food, wood and carbon dioxide absorption began to exceed what the country's ecosystems can renew over the full year. Trade is a fact of life in our globalized economy, but just as a trade deficit can be a risk, so can an ecological deficit.
Forests cover one fifth of this country and national parks help preserve its rich biodiversity. Some of the most important values in this country's culture include family and leisure time. Soccer is the most popular sport.
Now, can you identify this nation?
Find the answer by clicking here.
July 2016 newsletter article 7
Attention California friends: Learn more about leading a sustainable lifestyle by attending the Green Festival in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Green Festivals is offering you a special 20% off your ticket when you use the code: GFN16. The LA Green Fest runs from Sept. 16-18 and more information is available at bit.ly/1LcItzq. The SF Green Fest runs Nov. 11-13 and more information is available at bit.ly/29oqCU7.