Ecological Footprint accounts

Principles 1

Authored by: Mathis Wackernagel , Alessandro Galli , Laurel Hanscom , David Lin , Laetitia Mailhes , Tony Drummond

Routledge Handbook of Sustainability Indicators

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138674769
eBook ISBN: 9781315561103
Adobe ISBN:


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The Ecological Footprint emerged as a response to the challenge of sustainable development, which aims at securing everybody’s well-being within planetary constraints. It sharpens sustainable development efforts by offering a metric for this challenge’s core condition: keeping the human metabolism within the means of what the planet can renew. Therefore, Ecological Footprint accounting seeks to answer one particular question: How much of the biosphere’s (or any region’s) regenerative capacity does any human activity demand? The condition of keeping humanity’s material demands within the amount the planet can renew is a minimum requirement for sustainability. While human demands can exceed what the planet renews for some time, exceeding it leads inevitably to (unsustainable) depletion of nature’s stocks. Such depletion can only be maintained temporarily. In this chapter we outline the underlying principles that are the foundation of Ecological Footprint accounting.

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