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Exploring the application of the Ecological Footprint to sustainable consumption policy

John Barrett, Nia Cherret, Rachel Birch, January 2007

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Summary :

The Ecological Footprint is a popular indicator for environmental impacts of consumption amongst local authorities and regional governments in the UK. This paper presents the findings of a survey that investigated the use and perception of the Ecological Footprint by some of these decision-making bodies and demonstrates practical applications of the Ecological Footprint in two case studies, Cardiff and York.

The general aim of Footprint studies have been more focused towards that of public awareness and education, with its use as a policy tool taking a more secondary role. Increasingly, confidence is growing in the robustness of the Ecological Footprint so that many local authorities now see the Footprint as more of a policy as well as an educational tool. In summary, the Ecological Footprint can be seen as a tool that will help promote ‘integrated thinking’ and a performance culture, contribute to local strategic policy, provide evidence-based policy decisions and help prioritize the importance of sustainability.