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Ecological Footprint and Capacity-Building

November 13, 2015

The Ecological Footprint can be thought of as a tool for measurement and communication used to track human demand on the Earth’s natural resource flows. The Ecological Footprint, for example,

– enables definition of sustainability in specific and measurable terms (which is ultimately determined by not just    environmental but also economic, social, political, historic, geographic, financial, technical, and cultural factors); and

– enables people to understand sustainability by linking their personal impact with global ecological capacity

The Ecological Footprint contrasts the demand on resources with the Earth’s capacity to generate these biological resource flows. In a time where it takes the planet a year and a half to regenerate what we use in just one year, the “natural capital” consumed yearly needs to be monitored (Global Footprint Network). This knowledge will ideally lead to more informed decision-making regarding how we as individuals and groups use the resources around us.

The Ecological Footprint does not take into account hazardous impacts on the Earth/atmosphere or water usage/water availability. What it does do, however, is measure the amount of land required to eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy required to provide water consumed on a global scale (EPA Victoria). This accounting goes toward informing individuals, businesses, and governments of their footprint and from there, how to more effectively manage their ecological consumption, which, in turn, can lead to a more sustainable way of living and operating in our daily lives at a grassroots level.

The High Atlas Foundation builds on this technical knowledge by conducting workshops with participants’ facilitation of participatory planning methods (namely, community mapping, pairwise ranking, options assessment chart, and institutional diagramming) among multi-sectoral local groups.  These groups develop trust, generate relevant information upon which to base decisions that address the Ecological Footprint, and form action plans to implement initiatives that promote sustainable land use, practices, and energy sources and their consumption.

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