ecological footprint

An ecological footprint is a measure of natural capital use per person or per settlement. It is usually expressed as a number of Earths required to support all persons on Earth living at that level of consumption, however, this has come under criticism for assuming Kant's Categorical Imperative and ignoring the varying roles high consumers may play in enabling the lower consumption lifestyles of others.

who's building the next Earth?

The World Wildlife Fund issued a report in 2006 that claimed that before 2050 the human population would require "Two Earths" to sustain it if current trends in population and consumption continued. Which of course they cannot.

Canadians already consume the equivalent of Four Earths per capita, but there are thankfully relatively few of us.

what will really happen without another Earth

The implication of such numbers is clear: radical increases in resource prices and conflict over newly-scarce resources, of which the first may be the atmosphere's capacity to absorb GHG, stabilize the climate, and reduce ocean pH. The Kyoto Accord is seen by many as the litmus test for willingness of governments to act on these natural limits to carrying capacity.

UN measures

The ICLEI ecoBudget is the only UN-mandated measure of ecological footprint. The much more specialized ISO 14064 deals only with accounting for carbon emissions, and emerged at about the same time (March 2006), so the two accredited standards will likely be reconciled. The ICLEI Triple Bottom Line includes ecological footprint.


The Green Party of Canada passed a resolution at its GPC AGM 2006 G06-p55: Ecological Footprint Analyses, which took the following positions:

"i. Advocate that Canada adopt the use of Ecological Footprint analyses as a
key indicator of the performance of Canadian society;

ii. Call upon policy research institutes, financial institutions, and all levels of
government to add these indicators to the traditional types of analyses and
reports when they are publishing views on the performance of our society and our country;

iii. Emphasize wherever possible that increasing levels of consumption will
soon make population growth in Canada ecologically unsustainable – and
that Canadians must make hard choices on the type of future we want;

iv. Develop and support public policies that reflect such choices;

v. Carry forward these views to international fora and debates in order to
help focus World attention on this issue, to learn from the experiences of
other countries and, whenever possible, to assist them to come to grips
with this massive challenge"

meeting global municipal standards

At that same meeting, the GPC passed G06-p05: Sustainable Urban Development which resolved, using the exact wording from the World Mayors and Municipal Leaders Declaration on Climate Change, 2005-12-07 that "global trade regimes, credits and banking reserve rules be reformed to advance incentives to implement polices and practices that reduce and mitigate climate change;" and "...achieve debt relief for poor countries undertaking sustainable change to their domestic economy, trade, credit and monetary practices;... develop fair trade networks and implement sustainable agriculture" and that domestic policy focus on "provision and purchasing of sustainable and local goods and services to these". It required "that progress towards these be reported using ISO 14064 and the UN ICLEI "ecoBudget" and "Triple Bottom Line" methods" and further "that Canadian local governments that adopt these measures be fully supported to integrate their reporting and share their best practices;"

It called on the federal government to "support Canadian urban governments to lead the world in the tracking, reporting, exchange of practices, and all other matters related to sustainable urban development, before the ICLEI 2012 World Congress."