Metrics for Advancing One Planet Prosperity
By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 10 billion people, with 70-80% living in urban areas. Yet, if we comply with the Paris Agreement, humanity will have ceded using fossil fuel well before 2050. This means economies that want to be resilient and successful need to find ways to provide for thriving lives within the average budget of nature.
How much is this budget? Given the size of the planet, and considering that the limiting material factor for fueling our economy are the biological resources the planet’s surface areas provide, this budget boils down to 1 global hectares per person by 2050.
While our planet is finite, our ability to look ahead and innovate is not. Possibilities are indeed infinite, and will continue to be, if we embrace physical reality and make sure humanity’s resource dependence can be met by this planet. For instance, cities can shape their transportation and housing infrastructure to be a force for sustainability. Energy systems can be decarbonized. Since infrastructure has long lifespans, foresight is crucial for adapting economies to future needs. Vice versa, delaying response and continuing to promote resource-inefficient infrastructure turns into large and lasting liabilities. Guiding those decisions requires robust metric that can compare the resource demand to the resources available.
Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D. is the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint and CEO of Global Footprint Network. Since 2003 this international think-tank has engaged with more than 50 nations, 30 cities, and 70 global partners to deliver scientific insights that have driven high-impact policy and investment decisions. Together with its partners, Global Footprint Network focuses on bringing about a sustainable human economy in which all can thrive within the means of our one planet. Mathis’ awards include the 2015 IAIA Global Environment Award, the 2012 Blue Planet Prize, the 2012 Binding-Prize for Nature Conservation, the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding Memorial Award, the 2011 Zayed International Prize for the Environment, an honorary doctorate from the University of Berne, and a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.