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Ecological Footprint Overview

About the 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
Wangari Maathai
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
Herman E. Daly
Peter Raven
Mick Bourke

Special Announcement
Asia-Pacific 2005 Report challenges us to reverse global trends
In Hong Kong today Global Footprint Network and WWF announced the release of the new report "Asia-Pacific 2005: The Ecological Footprint and Natural Wealth." The report shows that since 1961, the region has more than doubled its consumption of ecological resources and now demands nearly 40 per cent of the total capacity of global ecosystems each year. Together, the Asia-Pacific countries are home to 55 percent of the world's population.
Per capita Footprints in Asia vary widely
Asia-Pacific's Use of World Biocapacity by percentage, 1961 to 2001
In the Asia-Pacific region, the average Footprint of 1.3 global hectares is seven times smaller than that of a North American and more than three times smaller than that of a European. At the same time, this demand is more than 1.7 times what the region is able to supply. The Ecological Footprint per person also varies widely across countries in the region. While the average Australian has a Footprint of 7.7 global hectares, the average Bangladeshi Footprint is only 0.5 global hectares.
Despite their huge economic growth, the per capita Footprint in the rapidly transforming economies of the region remains relatively low compared to the United States or Europe. In many countries, such as India, the per capita Footprint is relatively stable - growth in India's overall Footprint is largely due to population growth. In others, such as China and Japan, the per capita Footprint has nearly doubled in the past 40 years, although in the past decade this growth has slowed considerably.
Ecological Footprint by Region

Emil Salim
Professor Emil Salim, former Indonesian Minister of State, in his forward to the report states: "It is a poignant reminder that consumptive lifestyles in North America and Europe, largely based on cheap fuel and exporting environmental costs, cannot be maintained nor extended worldwide without causing additional life-threatening damage to the global environment and increasing social inequity."
The importance of resource accounting
Mathis Wackernagel
Asia-Pacific 2005: The Ecological Footprint and Natural Wealth is based on Global Footprint Network's National Footprint Accounts. "The report presents case study and time trend data for 9 Asia-Pacific countries, analyzes global trade flows, and explores one of the major challenges of our time -- how to secure basic human needs within the means of nature," says Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, executive director of Global Footprint Network, and co-author of the study. "The footprint is not about how bad it is, but what we can do about it."
Asia can shape sustainable development worldwide
"Asia-Pacific is in a unique position to shape the world's path to sustainable development in the coming decades," said Dr. James Leape, Director General of WWF International. "If this region, where more than half the world's population lives, can get the balance right between natural resource consumption and production, we can significantly halt the environmental degradation of our planet."
Options for Asia
In the report, WWF states that people in the region can consume less, pollute less and tread more lightly on the planet without harming economic growth and competitiveness. It suggests;
  • creating resource efficient buildings and transport in major cities, particularly in China and India;
  • moving away from fossil fuels and investing in new energy technologies;
  • investing in solutions for the transformation of economies towards sustainability, especially in the areas of food, health, natural resource management, transportation, and shelter; and
  • withdrawing investments from industries that are obstacles to sustainability.
For a copy of this report in Chinese, please contact Kadoorie Farms and Botanic Garden.