The Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint

New Developments in Policy and Practice

Andrea Collins and Andrew Flynn

The ecological footprint is one of the most prominent tools used to measure environmental sustainability, and its rise in academic and policy debates since the early 1990s has been remarkable. Drawing upon research and examples from around the world, the authors critically examine the claims made of the ecological footprint and how it has been applied in practice. This important book provides a unique insight into the ways in which environmental knowledge is used within organisations, and how it is able to carry authority in policy making processes.

Chapter 5: Novel applications, Ecological Footprint calculators and communication

Andrea Collins and Andrew Flynn

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, geography, environmental geography

Extract

Since the initial creation of the Ecological Footprint in the early 1990s, a number of innovations and novelties have surrounded the concept. This has been facilitated by a great deal of interaction between academic debates on the Footprint and its application in practice. The Ecological Footprint is not unique in this respect since there have also been some interesting crossovers between academic application and practice with other environmental assessment tools, such as life cycle analysis (LCA), for example interlinkages between the physical sciences and engineering disciplines, and the business application of LCA (see Horne et al. 2009). The innovations and novelties that have surrounded the Ecological Footprint have involved a number of key players: academics, environmental consultants, environmental NGOs and funders. Although their involvement has been interconnected, for reasons of clarity their contributions are discussed separately in this chapter. This chapter begins by considering the extent of interest and debates that have surrounded the Ecological Footprint within the global academic community. It then moves on to consider how the concept has been marketed through the development of a range of novel applications by Ecological Footprint consultancies, focusing particularly on the activities of Best Foot Forward (BFF) and the Stockholm Environment Institute – York (SEI–York) in the UK. The following section considers the growing popularity of Ecological Footprint calculators, and compares and contrasts the most popular online personal calculators, and what implications their results have for constructing a sustainable future.

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