There’s no sugarcoating it: 2021 turned out to be a challenging year for us all. However, we celebrate that it was also a year that brought biodiversity to the forefront of the public debate. Home-bound urban dwellers spoke out about their longing for nature. Scientists tied the current pandemic to the encroachment of human activity on biodiversity. Multiple international summits were held, including the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the UN Biodiversity Conference (with its COP15 scheduled to conclude this year). And the business world experimented with interesting initiatives officially assessing its impact on nature.
We have long advocated for biodiversity as well as natural ecosystem conservation and regeneration as one major lever in response to ecological overshoot. We are especially proud that our work was used extensively in the highly visible Economics of Biodiversity: Dasgupta Review published in February 2021. In the world of travel, our contribution to the DestiMED project led to conservation-conscious ecotourism packages becoming available in Croatia and Greece. In Portugal, the number of cities committed to using our custom City Footprint Calculator to help them develop appropriate ecosystem restoration policies with a view to growing their biocapacity, reached 20 in 2021. Speaking of the Footprint Calculator, our free, widely-used online tool kept growing in 2021 with 3.5 million users!
Awards and Recognition
We believe our work is more necessary and useful than ever and we are grateful that others agree with us. Here are some noteworthy nods we received in 2021:
- Population Matters’ Change Champion Award recognized the global reach/impact of our Footprint Calculator
- the European Parliament Research Service included the Ecological Footprint in its report 10 composite indices for policymaking
- the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) guidebook included our EUSTEPs project as a case study in its Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities section
- the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs identified the MEET Network (DestiMED + collaborators including Global Footprint Network) as SDG Good Practice
Earth Overshoot Day
In 2021, Earth Overshoot Day generated global media coverage. It was covered in 100+ countries through nearly 6,000 news items. Extensive radio and TV coverage in Europe included national and top-tier media such as multiple BBC outlets and an interview with the US National Public Radio. One of our favorite highlights was an infographic featured on the Financial Times cover.
On social media, Greta Thunberg, Greenpeace, but also French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and European political leaders—even the Netflix show “Sweet Tooth”—talked about Earth Overshoot Day.
100 Days of Possibility
Earth Overshoot Day marked day 1 in our 100 Days of Possibility initiative, an amazing team effort to bring you a solution daily – from 20 countries in all. Our goal, in the weeks leading up to COP26, was to help focus mindsets on what is possible and to remind us that we can choose to act without delay, given all that’s available to us, regardless of intergovernmental decisions and agreements. This is not the last you will hear from us on the subject because…nothing is more important than acting now to shape our future. Stay tuned!
Research and Publications
In the meantime, we’re happy to share with you some food for thought published in 2021:
- “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”, co-authored by Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D.
- “The importance of resource security for poverty eradication” in Nature Sustainability, by Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D.
- “Decentralization & local food: Japan’s regional Ecological Footprints indicate localized sustainability strategies” in Journal of Cleaner Production, by Katsunori Iha and David Lin
- “Reducing Mediterranean Seafood Footprints: The role of consumer attitudes” in Ocean & Costal Management, by Katsunori Iha and Alessandro Galli
…and our blog series that launched in 2021, in case you missed them:
- EcoBytes: Exploring interesting topics from Ecological Footprint and biocapacity data.
- Three Decades and Counting: Insights from successes and failures in 30+ years of communicating about sustainability