Tell a Friend
Download the Report
About the Ecological Footprint
Ecological Creditors and Debtors
License the Data
Make a Donation
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.
William E. Rees
M S Swaminathan
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Herman E. Daly
At the European Parliament today, WWF
and Global Footprint Network launched
EUROPE 2005: The Ecological Footprint, a
report showing that
Europe uses 20 percent of the biosphere's services to
serve seven percent of the world's population - a resource
demand that has risen nearly 70 percent since 1961.
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission,
has endorsed the report, which will be used to inform
a larger EU effort to craft a sustainable development
strategy for the region. In the forward Barroso also
acknowledges the need to understand planetary limits.
He writes, "[Sustainable development] requires
amongst other things safeguarding the Earth's capacity
to support life in all its diversity and respecting
the limits of the planet's natural resources."
Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Europe 2005: The Ecological Footprint is
based on Global Footprint Network's
National Footprint Accounts and presents case
study and time trend data
for France, Germany, Greece, Poland, and the United
Kingdom as well as a comparison of the Footprint of
25 European nations.
report marks the first time Europe has ever tracked
and studied its ecological spending in relation to
planetary limits, only to find that its use of ecosystem
services - such as food, fibre, energy, and land -
has created an ecological deficit for the entire region.
The result: Europe's consumption levels can continue
to grow only by importing more natural resources,
such as wood, metals or fish, from other countries
and dumping more of its CO2 waste into the global
WWF presents report to President Barroso
According to the report, the EU countries with the
highest demand per person are Sweden, Finland, Estonia,
Denmark, Ireland, and France, using between three
and four times the worldwide average biological capacity
available per person. Hungary, Slovakia and Poland
have lower demands but are still using about twice
the average amount of resources available per person.
Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Per Person,
With a footprint more than double its own biological
capacity, Europe's well-being depends on ecological
capacity from elsewhere. As long as its ecological
deficit is unaddressed, Europe is loosing its room
to manoeuvre. Hence reducing its Ecological Footprint
is essential for Europe's competitiveness. "While
it is still cheap to run an ecological deficit, if
humanity's current levels of resource consumption
continue, such a deficit will become an increasing
liability for countries," says
Mathis Wackernagel, Executive Director of
Global Footprint Network and
lead-author of the report, "This deficit spending
will jeopardize Europe's long-term prosperity if it
is not seriously addressed."
The longer overshoot is left unchecked, the more expensive
the investment required, and the greater the risk
that critical ecosystems will be eroded beyond the
point at which they can easily recover. As Europe's
and the world's ecological debt accumulates, choices
narrow, and present resource use becomes ever more
dependent on liquidating ecological assets.
Squeeze on the World's Poor
The resource crunch may not be felt yet in Europe
where resource consumption is still increasing, but
many of the 5.2 billion people living in low and middle
income countries - large numbers of whom struggle
to meet their basic material needs - have been facing
an involuntary decline in their quality of life. Addressing
these growing social discrepancies will be critical
to global security and all people's economic prosperity.
Options for Europe
challenges posed in the report also present significant
opportunities for Europe. Europe can lead the world
by investing in innovations in the areas of food,
health, nature management, mobility, and shelter.
A green energy future, for instance, will not only
be needed in Europe: by being ahead, Europe can guide
the world with technologies that drive sustainability.
Europe can build transport and city infrastructure
that facilitates rather than thwarts the transition
to a sustainable future.
Resource Accounting is Key
Europe embarks on this new path to sustainable development
it will need ways of knowing how far we have come
and how far it still has to go. The measurement tools
Europe 2005: The Ecological Footprint
can help Europe determine whether its actions get
it closer to its goals.