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A Review of the Ecological Footprint Indicator—Perceptions and Methods

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  • Thomas Wiedmann

    ()
    (Centre for Sustainability Accounting, Innovation Centre, Innovation Way, York Science Park, York, YO10 5DG, UK)

  • John Barrett

    (Centre for Sustainability Accounting, Innovation Centre, Innovation Way, York Science Park, York, YO10 5DG, UK)

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    Abstract

    We present a comprehensive review of perceptions and methods around the Ecological Footprint (EF), based on a survey of more than 50 international EF stakeholders and a review of more than 150 original papers on EF methods and applications over the last decade. The key points identified in the survey are that the EF (a) is seen as a strong communication tool, (b) has a limited role within a policy context, (c) is limited in scope, (d) should be closer aligned to the UN System of Environmental and Economic Accounting and (e) is most useful as part of a basket of indicators. Key issues from the review of methods are: (a) none of the major methods identified can address all relevant issues and questions at once, (b) basing bioproductivity calculations on Net Primary Production (NPP) is a promising approach, (c) advances in linking bioproductivity with ecosystem services and biodiversity have been made by the Dynamic EF concept and the HANPP indicator, (d) environmentally extended input-output analysis (IOA) provides a number of advantages for improving EF calculations and (e) further variations such as the emergy-based concept or the inclusion of further pollutants are not regarded as providing a fundamental shift to the usefulness of EF for policy making. We also discuss the implications of our findings for the use of the EF as a headline indicator for sustainability decision-making.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (June)
    Pages: 1645-1693

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:6:p:1645-1693:d:8585

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    Web page: http://www.mdpi.com/

    Related research

    Keywords: ecological footprint; perception; methodology; policy relevance;

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    Cited by:
    1. Holden, Erling & Linnerud, Kristin & Banister, David, 2013. "Sustainable passenger transport: Back to Brundtland," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 67-77.
    2. Pilkington, Brian & Roach, Richard & Perkins, James, 2011. "Relative benefits of technology and occupant behaviour in moving towards a more energy efficient, sustainable housing paradigm," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 4962-4970, September.
    3. Henders, Sabine & Ostwald, Madelene, 2014. "Accounting methods for international land-related leakage and distant deforestation drivers," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 21-28.

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