Is 'sustainable cities' an oxymoron or can they be made to work?
The Ecological Footprint
Humans are the most successful species on the planet. But our growing economy is placing unprecedented demand on the planet's limited ecological resources. How can we assure our future well-being?
'We can choose to live on a depleted planet or we can choose to live on a rich, biologically diverse, more stable planet' proposes Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, co-creator of the Ecological Footprint. He suggests that an essential step in avoiding depletion is to track ecological assets, allowing us to make more informed choices.
In the film, Wackernagel introduces the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures human demand on the Earth. Footprint accounts work like a bank statement, documenting whether we are living within our ecological budget or consuming nature's resources faster than the planet can renew them.
In just thirty minutes, the film paints a picture of our current global situation: for the first time, humanity is in 'ecological overshoot' with annual demand on resources exceeding what Earth can regenerate each year. Most countries are running ecological deficits, with Footprints larger than their own biological capacity. Wackernagel explores the implications of these ecological deficits, and provides examples of how governments, communities and businesses are using the Footprint to help improve their ecological performance.
For Wackernagel, 'Sustainability boils down to how we can all live well, how we can all have great lives, within the means of one small planet.' He concludes on a hopeful note, showing how a new organization, Global Footprint Network, is partnering with government agencies, businesses, universities and NGOs to support the use of the Ecological Footprint and to help turn this vision of a sustainable future into reality.