The Ecological Footprint
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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.
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Chapter 4: Ecological Footprinting in the United Kingdom

Andrea Collins and Andrew Flynn


Organisations in the UK were amongst the first to engage with the Ecological Footprint as a measure of ecological impact. The pace of uptake has been quite remarkable and quite different compared to what has happened elsewhere. A number of key factors – namely funding opportunities, and the role of Ecological Footprint consultancies and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – have influenced the speed of uptake and direction of its development. This chapter describes how the Ecological Footprint has developed in the UK since the late 1990s. It begins by considering the UK’s Ecological Footprint results from 1996 through to 2008, the most recent year for which they have been published by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). We then consider the level of interest that the Ecological Footprint has generated in the UK. The chapter then discusses those key factors that have influenced the uptake and development of the Ecological Footprint in the UK. Throughout this chapter comparisons are made with what has happened in Australia, where although organisations started to engage with the Ecological Footprint at a similar time, its uptake and development has differed. Since 2000, WWF – a world-leading conservation organisation – has published through its Living Planet Report (LPR), a biennial publication on the ‘state of the planet’. In its first LPR, the average person living on the Earth in 1996 was estimated to have an Ecological Footprint of 2.85 global hectares (gha) (WWF 2000).

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