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 7: Footprinting futures

Andrea Collins and Andrew Flynn

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


In this book we have argued that the Ecological Footprint has been a significant development in academic debates on the measurement of environmental resource use. The Ecological Footprint has also made an equally significant policy contribution as it has assisted in confirming the status of the environment as a topic which local, national and supranational governments must take into account. We have also shown how interest in the Ecological Footprint quickly rose to prominence from the late 1990s as an environmental tool before declining a little more than a decade later (see also Boezman et al. 2010), but we have also been able to show how the Footprint continues to matter in organisations. The Ecological Footprint is able to gain traction as a concept because its power as a metaphor and way of communicating resource use means that it retains a direct relevance for its users. So, once an organisation has engaged with the Ecological Footprint there are likely to be those who remain sympathetic to it. Even when an organisation’s commitment to the Ecological Footprint may not be apparent, there are those who continue to empathise with its ideas and are likely to use it when a more favourable context emerges to promote the Ecological Footprint. These organisational social carriers of the Footprint message are able to ensure that there remains an awareness of the idea which can, for example, be shown in a renewed commitment to the Ecological Footprint as an indicator or in policy developments.

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