The Accounts measure the ecological resource use and resource capacity of nations over time. Based on approximately 15,000 data points per country per year, the Accounts calculate the Footprints of more than 200 countries, territories, and regions from 1961 to the present.
All commodities carry with them an embedded amount of bioproductive land and sea area necessary to produce them and sequester the associated waste. International trade flows can thus be seen as flows of embedded Ecological
Biocapacity is measured by calculating the amount of biologically productive land and sea area available to provide the resources a population consumes and to absorb its wastes, given current technology and management practices. To make biocapacity comparable across space and time, areas are adjusted proportionally to their biological productivity. These adjusted areas are expressed in “global hectares”. Countries differ in the productivity of their ecosystems, and this is reflected in the Accounts.
Results from this analysis shed light on a country’s ecological impact. A country has an ecological reserve if its Footprint is smaller than its biocapacity; otherwise it is operating with an ecological deficit. The former are often referred to as ecological creditors, and the latter ecological debtors.
Today, most countries, and the world as a whole, are running ecological deficits. In fact, today over 85% of the world population lives in countries with an ecological deficit. The world’s ecological deficit is referred to as global ecological overshoot.
The Ecological Footprint Standards 2009 are designed to ensure that Footprint assessments are produced consistently and according to community-proposed best practices. They aim to ensure that assessments are conducted and communicated in a way that is accurate and transparent, by providing standards and guidelines on such issues as use of source data, derivation of conversion factors, establishment of study boundaries, and communication of findings. The Standards are applicable to all Footprint studies, including sub-national populations, products, and organizations.
The Standards have been developed through a consensus, committee-based process by a Standards Committee drawn from representatives of academia, government, NGOs, and consulting firms. As a Community Affiliate of the ISEAL Alliance, Global Footprint Network developed a standard-setting process following the steps of the ISEAL Standard-Setting Code of Ethics and Good Practice.
Two committees, the Standards Committee and the National Accounts Committee, work with Global Footprint Network to oversee the scientific basis of the National Footprints Accounts and standards for Footprint applications. In addition, Global Footprint Network encourages national governments to conduct reviews of their country’s own accounts. Governments that have initiated reviews of the Footprint methodology and results include Switzerland, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Commission, and the United Arab Emirates.
Through a Multi-Regional Input Output modeling approach, MRIO-based Footprint data allows us to understand the flow of resources through the global supply chain. Learn more about the data we produce and the tools we offer.
Today, more than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that are running ecological deficits, using more resources than what their ecosystems can regenerate. Is your country operating in the red?