A Review of the Ecological Footprint Indicator—Perceptions and Methods
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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