You are on page 1of 18

What Size Shoe Do You Wear?

Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada Indice de progrs vritable - Atlantique

October, 2002

Ecological Footprint
The amount of productive land and water a given population requires to produce all the resources they consume and take in all the waste they make using prevailing technology (Onisto et al. 1998) From a school perspective - EF = The space required to support all the inputs and outputs of the school body.

Sustainability Model
We can calculate how much biological productive area we have.
We can calculate how much we are using.

Living sustainable means that we are not living beyond what is available.

Measurements of Sustainable Development

Generally look at the supply side of the equation. Such measurements put the whole onus for sustainable development on the producer.
The ecological footprint looks at the demand side of the equation and places responsibility for sustainable development not only on the producer but on the consumer.

Components of the Ecological Footprint

(six human activities that require space)

1. Growing Crops
2. Grazing Animals 3. Harvesting Timber

4. Catching Fish
5. Accommodating Infrastructure (housing, transportation systems, industry, built up land)

6. Absorbing Carbon Dioxide Emissions (burning fossil fuels)

A regions (person, school) ecological footprint is the total area required to produce the food and fibers that a region consumes, sustain its energy consumption, and give space for its infrastructure.

People consume resources from all over the world, so their footprint can be thought of as the sum of these areas, wherever they are on the planet.

The Bottom Line

2.3 hectares of of biologically productive land and sea per person
set aside 12% as recommended by the Bruntland Commission to protect biodiversity = 2.0 hectares per person

Global Context
United States 9.7 ha/capita

Canada 8.4 ha/capita

- NS - 8.1 ha/capita - AB - 7.9 ha/capita

France 5.3 ha/capita

Japan 4.8 ha/capita

Zimbabwe 1.3 ha/capita Bangladesh 0.5 ha/capita

Global Average: 2.3 hectares/capita

Ecological Footprint By Region (1996)

The size of each box is proportional to the aggregate footprint of each region. The height of each box is propo rtional to the region's average ecological footprint per person; and The width of the box is proportional to the population of the region. (The OECD and non-OECD columns refer only to average ecological footprint per person).

Ecological Footprint Nova Scotia and Canada, 1961-1999



Hectare per Capita

Nova Scotia Canada Linear (Nova Scotia) Linear (Canada)

0 1960

197 0




EF Applications
Region (country, province, town, university campus) Personal Ecological Footprint (redefining progress, mountain equipment co-op) Competing technologies (fuel cells) Growing Techniques (field tomato vs. hydroponic tomato) Policy decisions (rail vs. road, urban planning decisions)

Purchase decisions (cradle to grave)

Other (big mac, aquaculture, newspaper)

Ecological Footprint in Use

Teach concepts of sustainability, environmental issues, responsibility. Benchmark of School Sustainability (define current state, assess progress -- footprint increase? Footprint decrease?) Means of Comparison (between schools, between grades, students vs. teachers)

Promote holistic decision making

Messages Behind the EF

1. Not all Footprints are equal
Recap: Average ecological space available per global citizen = 2.0 ha/cap Average N.S ecological footprint = 8.1 ha/cap

Countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Sweden occupy footprints over 200% greater than the 2.0 ha available per global citizen. This is dramatically contrasted to Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria with footprints of 1 ha or less per capita.

The richest fifth: account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures, the poorest fifth 1.3%. consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5% consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4% consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1% own 87% of the worlds vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1% (UNDP, 1998).

In a world of limited resources and limited waste assimilation capacity, excess consumption by the rich literally requires that others live in poverty if we are not to exceed the Earths physical carrying capacity.
Ecological footprint analysis cuts through the illusion that we can improve the living standards of the poor without curbing the excess consumption of the rich.

Ecological Footprint by Quintile

12.0 10.7 10.0

8.1 8.0 7.0 6.6



6.2 6.0



0.0 1st Quintile 2nd Quintile 3rd Quintile 4th Quintile 5th quintile Average

Ecological Footprint

Websites: GPI Atlantic (Nova Scotia Ecological Footprint) Pembina Institute (Alberta Ecological Footprint) Redefining Progress - (Foundation site of ecological footprint work) WWF International - (Living Planet Report) Litterature: Lewan, Lillemor., Wackernagel, Mathis., and Carina Borgstrom Hansson, 1999. Evaluating The Use of Natural Capital With Ecological Footprint: Applications In Sweden and Subregions. Ph.D. work. Wackernagel, Mathis, and William E. Rees, 1996. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC. For details on the book, see Wackernagel, Mathis, Larry Onisto, Alejandro Callejas Linares, Ina Susana Lpez Falfn, Jesus Mndez Garca, Ana Isabel Surez Guerrero, Ma. Guadalupe Surez Guerrero, 1997. Ecological Footprints of Nations: How Much Nature Do They Use? How Much Nature Do They Have? Commissioned by the Earth Council for the Rio+5 Forum. International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Toronto. Wackernagel, Mathis, 1998). "The Ecological Footprint of Santiago de Chile," Local Environment, Vol 3,, No. 2. Wackernagel, Mathis., Onisto, Larry., Patricia Bello, Callejas Linares, A.,Ina, Lpez Falfn, I.S., Mndez Garca, J., Surez Guerrero, A.I., and Surez Guerrero, M.G., 1999. "National natural capital accounting with the ecological footprint concept," Ecological Economics, Vol. 29, pp. 375-390.