Ecological Footprint Image Blue Footprint Network News
Issue 52, June 24, 2016  

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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.

Advisory Council
E.O. Wilson
Manfred Max-Neef
Rhodri Morgan
David Suzuki
Emil Salim
Julia Marton-Lefèvre
William E. Rees
Lester Brown
Jorgen Randers
M S Swaminathan
Daniel Pauly
Eric Garcetti
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Michael Meacher
Karl-Henrik Robèrt
Will Steffen
Dominique Voynet
Fabio Feldman
Oscar Arias
Peter Raven
Mick Bourke
Norman Myers
Gus Speth
Stephen Groff
Thomas E. Lovejoy

Earth Overshoot Day is drawing near. What can you do about it today?

This year, we took a risk with Earth Overshoot Day. We decided to get out of our comfort zone. For the first time ever, we took what had been a one-day media campaign designed to raise sustainability awareness, and have been building it, with the help of many partners, into a grassroots campaign, called #pledgefortheplanet, designed to spur action through pledges.

In the wake of the Paris climate agreement adopted last December, taking action is the logical next step. Yet, only two industrialized countries – France and Norway – have ratified the Paris agreement so far, just this month.

On Earth Day, we announced that Earth Overshoot Day will land this year on August 8th. (Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate that year.) Last week, we announced the first pledge with the help of our partner Green Monday. It’s about recognizing that our diet is a major factor of our Ecological Footprint because of our high consumption of meat (on average and as a group). We invite you to take the pledge and celebrate life with less meat by throwing a vegetarian dinner party. Details can be found here.

More pledges will be issued between now and Earth Overshoot Day. Join our social media campaign #pledgefortheplanet, take the pledge(s), tell your friends, and help us grow the movement to live within the means of our one planet.

Sponsor Announcement
Tetra Pak Supports Earth Overshoot Day for Second Year

Do you want to live in a world where both people AND planet thrive?

All large institutions need to make decisions consistent with this vision in order to make it a reality. That is Global Footprint Network’s ultimate goal. As we work to realize that vision, each of us can take actions in our daily lives to make a positive impact and reverse ecological overshoot.

Global Footprint Network has partnered with Tetra Pak, the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company dedicated to providing safe, innovative, and environmentally sound carton packages for beverages, broths and soups, to bring you insights on the benefits of everyday renewable living and ways to make simple changes. Here are three renewable habits you can implement today:

Walk or bike whenever you can. By utilizing a carbon neutral method of transportation, you’ll get some built-in exercise and reduce the size of your own Footprint. If you leave your SUV at home and bike to work for a year, you could save 170 gallons of gas and keep 1.9 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air.

Take shorter showers. The average American shower can use over 17 gallons of water in just eight minutes. Be mindful of how long your shower is and aim to shave off a few minutes, and you’ll save gallons of water each time.

Choose packages made from renewable materials. Pay attention to what you’re buying, where it’s coming from, and what it comes in. Look for indicators that the packaging is eco-minded - the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) logo is one to look for.

In the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more from us and from Tetra Pak about their recent research connecting renewable living and personal happiness. Until then, you can learn more about the study here.

News from the Network

Making Conservation Everybody’s Business

We’re proud to announce that on May 27, we joined a coalition of international NGOs and governments who came together at a U.N. summit in Nairobi to support a groundbreaking approach to sustainable land management. If our efforts yield a favourable outcome, Verified Conservation Areas, an original initiative of our partner Earthmind, may become the single most effective process to boost biodiversity conservation, one hectare at a time, outside of protected land areas. Yes, that would include farms, golf courses, city parks, and even industrial campuses. Read all the details in our blog.

Sweden Tops Good Country Index

For the third consecutive year, policy advisor Simon Anholt presented his Good Country Index yesterday (June 23) at TEDSalon Berlin. The index puts Sweden in first place because, relative to the size of its economy, "it simply does more ‘good’ and less harm than any other country on Earth," says Anholt. His goal is "to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away."

Does this unusual accounting approach sound familiar? "Using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organizations, we’ve given each country a balance sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between." Getting warmer? Sure enough, the balance sheet Anholt has devised includes "biocapacity reserve" stats gleaned from Global Footprint Network's data. We call that a "good" use of our data.

Thanks to its relatively low population and large forest area, Sweden enjoys an ecological reserve of 32 million global hectares. In other words, its ecosystems produce 47% more renewable natural resources than its economy uses. At the same time, the Swedes’ high standard of living means that their average per capita Ecological Footprint is 7.3 global hectares. In other words, 4.2 planets would be required to support the needs of mankind if everyone lived like the Swedes.

From Our Research Desk

German Footprint Book Provides Latest Data

An updated version of Footprint: Die Welt neu vermessen, a German book on the Ecological Footprint by Global Footprint Network co-founder Mathis Wackernagel, has been published with the latest Footprint data. It provides an easy-to-understand introduction to key Ecological Footprint concepts and explores what cities, regions, and countries can do to enable all of us to live within the budget of nature. The book is available on Amazon.

Can you guess this country?

On 15 June, this country busted its annual ecological budget—its citizens' demand for food, wood and carbon dioxide absorption will begin 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.

This country is more than twice the size of the European Union and its landscape varies from tropical beaches to deserts and dense wilderness. One of the country's many icons is a mountain side carved with the faces of past leaders that measures several stories high.

Now, can you identify this nation?

Find the answer by clicking here.