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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.
 
 

 
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E.O. Wilson
Manfred Max-Neef
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Julia Marton-Lefèvre
William E. Rees
Lester Brown
Jorgen Randers
M S Swaminathan
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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
 
European Environment Agency Launches "The European Environment - State and Outlook 2005" - Global Ecological Limits a Central Theme
 
November 29, 2005
 
Today in Brussels the European Environment Agency (EEA) released its much awaited report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2005, featuring the Ecological Footprint, which shows that it takes 2.1 times the biological capacity of Europe to support Europe.
 
 
Jacqueline McGlade
"In formulating policy today, Europe ...has an obligation to look beyond ... its own borders," states Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency. "Europe cannot continue down the path of achieving its short-term objectives by impacting disproportionately on the rest of the world's environment through its Ecological Footprint."
 
 
 
Michael Meacher
EEA commissioned Global Footprint Network and its partners, Stockholm Environment Institute, New Economics Foundation and WWF International to prepare a special subreport on Europe's interaction with the global environment, which in turn informed the State and Outlook 2005 report. Michael Meacher, MP and former UK Minister of Environment, emphasizes the importance of this analysis, stating that "Understanding our ecological demand and its reach beyond national boundaries allows us to get prepared for the future. It is not that different from our financial expenditures. If we don't track them, we waste them; if we overdraw our 'ecological accounts,' we are undermining our future."
 
Europe's well-being and economic performance depend on healthy ecosystems. Europe's stewardship of its own lands has been relatively stable for the past 40 years, and the large rise in European consumption has been fed mainly by non-domestic resources. In 1961, Europe's consumption exceeded its own biocapacity by just a few per cent; by 2002, Europe was using more than twice its own biocapacity.
 
 

 
Georgina M. Mace

Georgina M. Mace, Director of Science, Zoological Society of London summarizes it this way: "In a global economy, wealthy urban centres get much of their supply from far away. They depend on ecosystems they have never seen. Hence, overused and failing ecosystems, even if distant, become a threat to the well-being of these very urban centres."
 
 
Europe (defined as the 25 EU countries plus Switzerland) is the largest economy in world history, and its consumption has never been greater. In her speech, Jacqueline McGlade said, "Europeans' consumption may be half of that of people living in the USA, but it is double that of people living in Brazil, India and China."

In 1961, the population of European nations made up over 12 percent of world population with a demand on global ecological capacity of just under 10 percent. By 2002, Europe's population comprised only 7 percent of the world total but its demand on global ecological capacity doubled, to nearly 20 percent.

 

What are the opportunities for Europe today? McGlade explained that "Many of our envrionmental problems are rooted in the way we use our land, the way we trade and the way we consume." The report lays out an economic policy framework for addressing these issues focusing on:

  • shifting taxes away from labor and investment and toward pollution and the inefficient use of materials and land;
  • economic reforms shifing subsidies that are applied to transport, housing and agriculture; and
  • subsidies encouraging sustainable practices and efficienty technologies.
 
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Similarly, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Chairman of the German Bundestag Environment Committee and author of the book Factor Four says "It helps to look into the truth mirror. But what can we do to stop exporting Footprints that devastate the outside world? Well, technologies and habits are available to reduce the size of our Footprints by a factor of two or even four without jeopardising the quality of our European life."
 
Stay tuned for more from EEA and Global Footprint Network
Global Footprint Network's contribution to the State and Outlook 2005 is only one part of this large and comprehensive report. Stay tuned for an upcoming stand alone excerpt of the report (current working title: More than Two Europes: The European Footprint) scheduled for publication by the EEA next year. This excerpt will explore in greater detail the Footprint implications of European trade flows, social trends, and policies for decoupling economic performance and ecological impact and will discuss options and scenarios for reducing Europe's Footprint.
 
As part of the research and analysis for the State and Outlook 2005 report, the EEA funded Global Footprint Network's update of its National Biocapacity and Footprint Accounts, the underlying dataset which serves as the basis for all Footprint analyses worldwide. A summary of the new Accounts are available on EEA's website.
 
To download the State and Outlook 2005 report, go here.
 
Methodological Standards Available for Public Review
A critical component of wide adoption of the Ecological Footprint is the development of methological standards to ensure that Footprints are comparible wherever they are calculated in the world. Check our home page starting on Friday, December 2nd, for our first set of standards availalbe for public review.