National Reviews

Not Translated

Global Footprint Network publishes National Footprint Accounts for 201 nations, and welcomes and encourages those nations to conduct reviews of their accounts. National Reviews are excellent ways to help improve the National Footprint Accounts and create opportunities for Ecological Footprint policy applications at the national level. Below are summaries and links to some of the major national reviews that have been conducted to date. If you are interested in conducting a national review for your country, please contact us.


Stiglitz Commission Report

In 2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy created the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress to look into the issue of how we could move beyond GDP to broader indicators of progress, that could assess whether countries are providing for human well-being in a meaningful and lasting way. Chaired by Nobel Prize winning-economists Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University and Professor Amartya Sen of Harvard, the Commission issued a report in late 2009, which included extensive discussion of the Ecological Footprint as a possible indicator.

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Switzerland

In December 2006, Switzerland became the first country in the world to complete a review of its National Footprint Accounts. The government published the review as a report entitled Switzerland's Ecological Footprint - A Contribution to the Sustainability Debate. The study was carried out by INFRAS, a leading Swiss policy research institute. INFRAS compared the international data sources used by Global Footprint Network to the statistics used by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, and concluded that the data sets are largely consistent. The researchers also closely examined the Ecological Footprint approach, and calculated Switzerland's Ecological Footprint. The publication contains a multitude of easy to read charts showing how Switzerland's demand on nature compares with that of other countries. The publication also includes background information enabling readers to assess the Ecological Footprint approach. In addition, this collaborative study helped identify possible improvements for the accounts, which will enhance the Footprint calculations for all 201 countries.

Click here to learn more about Switzerland's Ecological Footprint.


European Commission

After a comprehensive, two year study of Ecological Footprint methodology, the European Commission has found the Footprint to be a useful indicator for assessing progress made toward the E.U.’s sustainability goals. The Footprint is unique among the indicators, according to the Commission’s report, in particular for its ability to relate resource use to the concept of carrying capacity. The report also praised the Footprint as an “intuitively appealing indicator”, easy to communicate and understand.

The Commission began its evaluation of the Footprint as part of an effort to measure progress toward long-term sustainability goals. Recognizing that using resources more efficiently is crucial both to the region’s economic development and its positive role in the world, the European Commission set clear policy objectives to limit environmental impacts and enable greater resource efficiency. A key obstacle, however, has been the lack of suitable indicators to establish targets and measure progress.

In 2008, the Commission completed a study to evaluate the Ecological Footprint as an indicator, examining its advantages as well as its shortcomings. The study found the Footprint could be an effective tool for assessing and communicating progress toward objectives, especially when combined with a basket of complementary indicators. The study also noted areas where the indicator could potentially be improved, and identified a short-to-medium research agenda for advancing the National Footprint Accounts methodology.

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Germany

The Ecological Footprint has proven one of the most successful indicators for communicating the concept of environmental sustainability and the physical limits of our planet. In the past decade the Ecological Footprint has developed into one of the most important measures for resource use in production and consumption at the international level. The objective of the project Scientific assessment and evaluation of the indicator "Ecological Footprint", commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in Dessau, Germany, was to assess and evaluate the Footprint for its possible use as a national sustainability indicator for Germany. The project was a corporation between the Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI), Vienna, Austria, Ecologic, Berlin and Best Foot Forward (BFF) in Oxford, UK.

The project had four major objectives:

  1. Describe the state of the art of the calculation of the Ecological Footprint and provide a review of existing calculation methods.
  2. Analyze underlying data using the National Footprint Accounts of Germany and present the main problems with regard to data quality. Identify and assess alternative national data sources for Germany.
  3. Critically analyze existing Ecological Footprint calculations with particular focus on the weak points in the calculation method as well as the meaningfulness and interpretability of the indicator.
  4. Formulate and present recommendations on how identified weak points could be improved (in particular with regard to data sets and calculation methods), and identify in which fields of application the Ecological Footprint seems appropriate.

To read the full report, click here.


UK/DEFRA

In 2007, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned a study by independent consultancy Risk & Policy Analysis Ltd. to assess developments since 2004 in Ecological Footprinting methodologies and their practical application. The goal of the study was to evaluate the usefulness of the Ecological Footprint for policymaking in the UK. The final report, A review of recent developments in, and the practical use of, Ecological Footprinting methodologies, was released in late 2007.

Click here to read the Global Footprint Network review of the report.


European Parliament

In 2001, the report Ecological Footprinting was released by the Directorate General for Research, Division Industry, Research, Energy, Environment, and Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA), 2001. The report, commissioned by the European Parliament, presents arguments and evidence reviewing the Ecological Footprinting methodology, comparing it with official and non-official indicators that are currently under development. The report is the result of a study conducted by ECOTEC Research and Consulting, whose aims were to review the Ecological Footprinting methodology; summarize recent studies on Ecological Footprinting undertaken internationally; critically assess whether the methodology addresses the physiological, environmental and ecological concerns of the European Union as expressed in its legislation and other official documents; and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology in comparison to other methodologies of comparable scope.

Click here to read the report.


France

France has conducted reviews of the Ecological Footprint as a step toward considering it for adoption as a national sustainability indicator. The first review, conducted by France’s Economic, Social and Environmental Council, looked at the general assumptions of the Ecological Footprint and other sustainability indicators. It was released in May 2009.

Click here to read the Economic, Social and Environmental Council report.

The second report, completed in 2010 and conducted by the Statistical Office of the French Ministry for Sustainable Development (SOeS) looked at, among other issues, the transparency and replicability of the Ecological Footprint methodology. They were able to reproduce the time series for the French Footprint and biocapacity within 1-3 percent.

Click here to visit official Internet page of the report (in French, 9 MB).

Click here to to read the French SOeS report “Une expertise de l’empreinte écologique” (in French, 9 MB).


Spain

In 2008, the Spanish government completed an analysis of the Ecological Footprint of Spain. The report analyzed Spain's Ecological Footprint and its various components such as energy, forest land, etc; the country's ecological deficit; and regional variations in biocapacity and consumption; and discussed how these might be relevant to policy. The report also made recommendations as to possible improvements in methodology and source data.

Click here to download the report (in Spanish).

Luxembourg

Luxembourg’s National Advisory Council for Sustainable Development (CSDD) commissioned the Resource Centre for Environmental Technologies (CRTE) in December 2008 to conduct a technical study for the establishment of the Ecological Footprint for Luxembourg.

The objective of the study was to analyze the Ecological Footprint calculations for Luxembourg done by Global Footprint Network and give an overview of the significance of the results for Luxembourg with respect to national particularities. It aimed to correctly define the boundaries of the Ecological Footprint assessment for Luxembourg and address methodological issues relevant at the national level, including data quality. The study is intended as a basis for future yearly calculation of Luxembourg’s Footprint by Global Footprint Network in conjunction with national offices and organizations.

Click here to read the Luxembourg report.

Learn more about Luxembourg's Ecological Footprint.


Belgium

In 2010 the Belgian Ministry for Planning (Bureau fédéral du Plan) (PLAN) conducted a review of the Ecological Footprint and produced a report which was also discussed in a press release and a media story (all three in French). PLAN's report discusses at length the strengths and weaknesses of Ecological Footprint and biocapacity accounting. This study was one of the two that looked in more in depth at the 88 federally selected indicators of the Belgium government.

Read more about Belgium's working papers (French) Biocapacity and Ecological Footprint Indicators (fr) and Pressures on the environment by consumption in Belgium in 2002: an analysis sociological (fr)

See the French Press Release


Indonesia

Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works has completed a report on the country’s Ecological Footprint as a basis for informing policy that can guide the country on a development path that does not compromise its rich natural capital.

According to the report’s preface, “Implementation of sustainable development has to be based on complete knowledge of existing conditions and the desired state in the future.” The report was initiated by the Directorate General of Spatial Planning in an effort to assess current biocapacity and Ecological Footprint conditions to the best extent possible. The report notes that Indonesia has a wealth of biocapacity, but in some places – particularly Java and Indonesia – high population threatens that surplus.

Click here to read the report.