Articles

In the spotlight: The Living Planet Report 2012

on .


Written by Dario Ruggiero (June 2012)
 
Premise
 
Jim Leape, in his preface to the “Living Planet Report 2012”, published by WWF in collaboration with the Global Footprint Network and the Living Conservation, that analyzes the state of Earth biodiversity, as well as Human demand of resources, tells in advance one of the main results of this Report: “we are using 50% more resources than those provided by the Earth”.
The Living Planet Report 2012 is made up of 4 chapters. The first one examines Earth state by using 3 complementary indexes: 1) the Living Planet Index that analyzes Earth biodiversity state; 2) the Global Ecological Footprint, that analyzes human demand resources; 3) the Water Footprint that examines human water demand. Chapter 2 focuses on human effects on three ecosystems: forests, freshwater, marine. Chapter 3 looks at what the future might hold; possible effects of climate change are examined and various scenarios are presented, including for the Ecological Footprint. These analyses indicate that continuing with “business as usual” will have serious, and potentially catastrophic, consequences. Clearly, the current system of human development, based on increased consumption and a reliance on fossil fuels, combined with a growing human population and poor overall management and governance of natural resources, is unsustainable. Chapter 3 provides some solutions that we already have at hand, examining alternative future scenarios. These solutions are expanded in Chapter 4, which presents WWF’s One Planet perspective for managing natural capital – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – within the Earth’s ecological limits.

In this article we are going to analyze the results of the Living Planet Index and of the Ecological Footprint, and, in a less detailed way, those of Chapter 3 (what does future hold) and Chapter 4 (what we can do). For a more detailed examination of the matter that have been considered in this article, please see the “Living Planet Report”. - (http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/publications/).
 
 
 
 
"We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal. We are
using 50 per cent more resources than the Earth can provide, and
unless we change course that number will grow very fast – by 2030,
even two planets will not be enough."
(Jim Leape - General Director of WWF International)
 
 
The Living Planet Index
 
The Living Planet Index reflects changes in the state of the planet’s biodiversity, using trends in population size for vertebrate species from different biomes and regions to calculate average changes in abundance over time. It includes data from more than 9,000 different wildlife monitoring schemes collected in a wide variety of ways – ranging from counting the number of individual animals, to camera trapping, to surveys of nesting sites and animal traces. (WWF 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012)

The Living Planet Index suggests that across the globe, vertebrate populations were on average one-third smaller in 2008 than they were in 1970. The index shows a decline of 28% from 1970 to 2008.

Graph – The Global Living Planet Index
(1970-2008)

Source: Living Planet Report 2012 – WWF 2012


The Living Planet Index is a composite indicator that measures changes in the size of wildlife populations to indicate trends in the overall state of global biodiversity. While some populations increased during the time they have been monitored, others have decreased. On average, however, the magnitude of population decreases exceeded that of the increases, so overall the index shows a global decline. In the Report for example, Northern bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) of Western Atlantic Ocean shows a catastrophic decline since the 1970s (and the species as a whole is in danger of extinction) because of unsustainable levels of fishing. In the opposite, European otter (Lutra lutra), after suffering serious population declines in the 1960s and ’70s, thanks to improved water quality and control of exploitation, registered a recovery in Denmark from 1984 to 2004, as well as in several other countries. Each population in the Living Planet Index is classified according to whether it is located in a temperate or tropical region, and whether it predominantly lives in a terrestrial, freshwater or marine system. These classifications are specific to the population rather than to the species, so some species are included in more than one index. The tropical Living Planet Index declined by just over 60 per cent from 1970 to 2008, while the temperate Living Planet Index increased by 31 per cent over the same period (however there are more populations in the temperate index than there are in the tropical index). Recent average population increases do not necessarily mean that temperate ecosystems are in a better state than tropical ecosystems. If the temperate index extended back centuries rather than decades, it would very likely show a long-term decline at least as great as that of the tropical index in recent years. Conversely, a long-term tropical index would likely show a much slower rate of change prior to 1970. Populations of some temperate species have increased in recent years due to conservation efforts. These include US wetland birds, UK breeding birds, seabirds and overwintering birds, and certain cetacean populations, such as the western Arctic population of Bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus).

The Global Terrestrial Living Planet Index declined by 25 per cent between 1970 and 2008. The terrestrial index includes 3,770 populations from 1,432 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles from a broad range of temperate and tropical habitats, including forests, grasslands and drylands. The tropical terrestrial index declined by almost 45 per cent, while the temperate terrestrial index increased by about 5 per cent.

The Marine Living Planet Index declined by more than 20 per cent between 1970 and 2008.. The marine index includes 2,395 populations of 675 species of fish, seabirds, marine turtles and marine mammals found in temperate and tropical marine pelagic, coastal and reef ecosystems. Marine ecosystems exhibit the largest discrepancy between tropical and temperate species: the tropical marine index shows a decline of around 60 per cent between 1970 and 2008, while the temperate marine index increased by around 50 per cent. However, There is evidence that temperate marine and coastal species experienced massive long-term declines over the past few centuries

Finally, the Freshwater Living Planet Index declined more than for any other biome. The index includes 2,849 populations of 737 species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals found in temperate and tropical freshwater lakes, rivers and wetlands. Overall, the global freshwater index declined by 37 per cent between 1970 and 2008. The tropical freshwater index declined by a much greater extent, 70 per cent – the largest fall of any of the biome-based indices – while the temperate freshwater index increased by about 35 per cent
 
 
The Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint tracks humanity’s demands on the biosphere by comparing humanity’s consumption against the Earth’s regenerative capacity, or biocapacity. It does this by calculating the area required to produce the resources people consume, the area occupied by infrastructure, and the area of forest required for sequestering CO2 not absorbed by the ocean (see Galli et al., 2007; Kitzes et al., 2009 and Wackernagel et al., 2002).

So, while the Global Ecological Footprint (that synthesizes all National footprints) tracks humans’ demands of Earth resources, biocapacity quantifies nature’s capacity to produce renewable resources, provide land for built-up areas and provide waste absorption services such as carbon uptake. Biocapacity acts as an ecological benchmark against which the Ecological Footprint can be compared. Both the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity are expressed in a common unit called a global hectare, where 1 gha represents a biologically productive hectare with world average productivity. In 2008, the Earth’s total biocapacity was 12.0 billion gha, or 1.8 gha per person, while humanity’s Ecological Footprint was 18.2 billion gha, or 2.7 gha per person. This discrepancy means it would take 1.5 years for the Earth to fully regenerate the renewable resources that people used in one year. In other words 1.5 Planet Earth will occur to satisfy humans’ demands of resources. Substantially, as for a bank account, from which it is possible to withdraw money faster than to wait for the interest this money generates, renewable resources can be harvested faster than they can be re-grown however at current consumption rates, these sources will eventually run out of resources too – and some ecosystems will collapse even before the resource is completely gone. Humanity’s annual demand on the natural world has exceeded what the Earth can renew in a year since the 1970s. This “ecological overshoot” has continued to grow over the years, reaching a 50 per cent deficit in 2008. A growing population, the increasing consumption rate and the footprint intensity (the efficiency by which resources are transformed in goods and services), are the main drivers of the growth in the Global Ecological Footprint.
 
Graph – Trends in Ecological Footprint and biocapacity per person between 1961 and 2008
Source: Global Footprint Network 2011
 
 
One of the most important elements in analyzing the Ecological Footprint is that it varies significantly from country to country. If all of humanity lived like an average Indonesian, for example, only two-thirds of the planet’s biocapacity would be used; if everyone lived like an average Argentinean, humanity would demand more than half an additional planet; and if everyone lived like an average resident of the USA, a total of four Earths would be required to regenerate humanity’s annual demand on nature. In fact, United States have an Ecological Footprint higher than 8 gha per person, so 4 times the Earth Biocapacity level (1,8 gha per person), and, together with Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, is one of the 5 countries with the highest Ecological Footprint. The size of a person’s Ecological Footprint depends on development level and wealth, and in part on the choices individuals make on what they eat, what products they purchase and how they travel. But decisions undertaken by governments and businesses have a substantial influence on the Ecological Footprint too, in terms of building, agricultural and energetic decisions..
 
Table - The Ecological Footprint for country in 2008
(Countries with the highest and the lowest ecological footprint)
Worst 10 countries Total Ecological Footprint Total biocapacity Best 10 countries Total Ecological Footprint Total biocapacity
Qatar 11.7 2.1 Nepal 0.8 0.5
Kuwait 9.7 0.4 Congo, Democratic Republic of 0.8 3.1
United Arab Emirates 8.4 0.6 Pakistan 0.8 0.4
Denmark 8.3 4.8 Rwanda 0.7 0.5
United States of America 7.2 3.9 Bangladesh 0.7 0.4
Belgium 7.1 1.3 Eritrea 0.7 1.5
Australia 6.7 14.6 Haiti 0.6 0.3
Canada 6.4 14.9 Afghanistan 0.5 0.4
Netherlands 6.3 1.0 Timor-Leste 0.5 0.9
Ireland 6.2 3.4 Occupied Palestinian Territory 0.5 0.1
Source: elaboration on Global Footprint Network data
 
 
Also the biocapacity is different from country to country. Nations with high biocapacity per person, such as Gabon, Bolivia and Canada, tend to have extensive forest areas. The amount of grazing land is also a key contributing factor for other biocapacity leaders, such as Mongolia and Australia. The high per capita biocapacity of these large countries can also be attributed to their relatively small populations. Some countries with high biocapacity do not have a large national footprint. Bolivia, for example, has a per capita footprint of 2.6 gha and a per capita biocapacity of 18 gha. However it is worth noting that this biocapacity may well be being exported and utilized by other nations. For example, the Ecological Footprint of a citizen of United Arab Emirates (UAE) is 8.4 gha, but within the country there is only 0.6 gha of biocapacity available per person. The residents of UAE are therefore dependent on the resources of other nations to meet their needs. As resources are becoming more constrained, competition is growing; the disparity between resource-rich and resource-poor nations is highly likely to have strong geopolitical implications in the future. Among the other countries with an high biocapacity per capita are placed Congo, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, all with a biocapacity similar to or higher than 10 gha per capita.

The Ecological Footprint of a country is strongly related to its income level. The per capita Ecological Footprint of high-income nations dwarfs that of low- and middle-income countries. High-income countries have historically had the most rapid increase in per capita footprint. This was principally due to growth in the carbon component of the per capita footprint – by 1.6 times between 1961 and 1970. In contrast, middle- and low-income countries had demanded less than the average per capita biocapacity available globally, until 2006 when middle-income countries exceeded this value. Middle-income countries include many of the world’s emerging economies, including the BRIICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa. Overall, population has more than doubled since 1961, while the footprint per person has increased by 65 per cent, largely associated with increased industrialization. Although population growth is slowing in some places, further population increases, together with a rise of middle class consumption patterns in emerging economies, have the potential to increase humanity’s global footprint dramatically in the near future.

Another important factor to take into consideration when analyzing the Ecological Footprint trend is the progressive urbanization of the global population, as urbanization usually comes in tandem with increasing income, which in turn leads to growing Ecological Footprints, particularly through growth in carbon emissions. By now, more than 50 per cent of the global population now lives in urban areas. This figure is expected to increase, as the world is rapidly urbanizing, particularly in Asia and Africa (UNFPA, 2007). However, well planned cities can also reduce direct carbon emissions by good management of the density and availability of collective transport.
 
 
Why we should care?
 
Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services and people

Living organisms – plants, animals and microorganisms – interact to form complex, interconnected webs of ecosystems and habitats, which in turn supply a myriad of ecosystem services upon which all life depends. Although technology can replace some ecosystem services and buffer against their degradation, many cannot be replaced. All human activities make use of ecosystem services – but can also put pressure on the biodiversity that supports these systems. Understanding the interactions between biodiversity, ecosystem services and people is fundamental to reversing the dramatic Ecological Footprint trends previously outlined and preserving the Earth biodiversity as well as safeguarding the future security, health and well-being of human societies.
 
Forests: carbon storage and climate

The carbon storage service provided by the world’s forests is vital for climate stabilization. The amount of carbon stored in different forests varies: Tropical forests store the most carbon (Chavez et al., 2008; UNEP, 2010). Deforestation and forest degradation drive climate change; climate change in turn can damage forests and the services they provide; so there is a vicious circle to eliminate. Conservation actions aimed at conserving carbon in forests include avoiding forest fragmentation; preventing conversion of old-growth natural and semi-natural forests into industrial agricultural and tree farms (plantations); encouraging sustainable use and responsible forest management; conserving forests within protected areas; improving forest connectivity; managing natural disturbance regimes such as fires; preventing and when necessary controlling invasive species; and slowing climate change.

Forests: providers of wood fuel

In addition to climate regulating services, the world’s forests provide essential provisioning services for billions of people, including the supply of fuel, timber, fibre, food and medicines. The two regions most dependant on wood fuel are Asia and Africa, which together account for 75 per cent of global use (World Resources Institute, 2011). Charcoal is an increasingly popular wood fuel among urban dwellers. Produced from natural woodlands and forests, and transported to towns for sale, millions of tonnes of charcoal enter cities in developing countries every year. Much of this charcoal production is unsustainable (Ahrends et al., 2010), leading to net deforestation and forest degradation, additional CO2 emissions, and thus to climate change, as well as significant biodiversity loss.

Rivers: imparted by infrastructures

Freshwater ecosystems occupy approximately 1 per cent of the Earth’s surface yet are home to around 10 per cent of all known ,animal species (Abramovitz, 1996; McAllister et al., 1997). By virtue of their position in the landscape, these ecosystems connect terrestrial and coastal marine biomes and provide services vital to the health and stability of human communities, including fisheries, water for agricultural and domestic use, hydrological flow regulation, navigation and trade, pollution control and detoxification services. But numerous pressures, including land use change, water use, infrastructure development, pollution and global climate change, working individually and collectively, are impinging on the health of rivers and lakes around the world.

The rapid development of water management infrastructure m– such as dams, dykes, levees and diversion channels – have left very few rivers entirely free flowing. Of the approximately 177 rivers greater than 1,000km in length, only a third remain free flowing and without dams on their main channel (WWF, 2006a). While clearly this infrastructure provides benefits at one level, such as hydropower or irrigation, there is often a hidden cost to aquatic ecosystems and the wider ecosystem services that they provide. In order to sustain the wealth of natural processes provided by freshwater ecosystems – such as sediment transport and nutrient delivery, which are vital to farmers in floodplains and deltas; migratory connectivity, vital to inland fisheries; and flood storage, vital to downstream cities – it is imperative to appreciate the importance of free flowing rivers, and developing infrastructure with a basin-wide vision.

Oceans: source of food Energy and material

The world’s oceans provide critical services for billions of people, but are threatened by overexploitation, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. Oceans supply fish and other seafood that form a major source of protein for billions of people, and provide seaweed and marine plants used for the manufacture of food, chemicals, energy and construction materials. Marine habitats such as mangroves, coastal marshes and reefs, form critical buffers against storms and tsunamis and store significant quantities of carbon. Some, especially coral reefs, support important tourism industries. Ocean waves, winds and currents offer considerable potential for creating sustainable energy supplies. Over the past 100 years, however, the use of the sea and its services has intensified, from fishing and aquaculture, to tourism and shipping, oil and gas extraction and seabed mining. Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since the industrial revolution.

Scramble for land: competing claims and commercial pressure

Land use decisions are invariably complex, involving many stakeholders with different priorities. Productive land may be simultaneously in demand by communities (e.g., homelands and sacred sites), or for food production, forest products, biodiversity conservation, urban development or carbon storage. Renewable energy demands add an extra dimension, through use of land for bioenergy feedstock production. The situation is further complicated by the interdependence between the production and consumption of key resources such as food, fibre, energy and water. All require ecosystem services, and one land use decision can affect the provision of many different services. Moreover, the poorest and most vulnerable people are most affected by the consequences of poor land use choices, while being the least able to influence such decisions. The frequency and complexity of land use competition is expected to rise as human demands grow. Throughout the developing world, external investors are scrambling to secure access to agricultural land for future food production. Since the mid-2000s, it is estimated that an area almost the size of Western Europe has been transferred in land allocation deals. Long-term drivers include population growth; increased consumption by a global minority; and market demands for food, biofuels, raw materials and timber (Anseeuw et al., 2012). Recent research shows that deals reported as approved or under negotiation worldwide amounted to a total of 203 million hectares: 134 million hectares of this total are located in Africa; 43 million hectares in Asia and 19 million hectares in Latin America. The rural poor are frequently being dispossessed of land and water resources they have held under customary tenure. The land rush is also leading to extensive conversion of natural ecosystems with accompanying losses of ecosystem services and biodiversity (Anseeuw et al., 2012).
 
 
What does the future hold?

The emerging impacts rising green house emissions

Average global surface temperatures were 0.8oC warmer during the first decade of the 21st century than during the first decade of the 20th century, and the most pronounced warming has been over the past 30 years. According to the National Research Council (NRC) of the US National Academies, “the past few decades have been warmer than any other comparable period for at least the last 400 years, and possibly for the last 1,000 years or longer” (National Research Council, 2010). The principle culprits driving the long-term global warming trend are rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), from fossil fuel use. Additional lesser amounts of greenhouse gases have come from deforestation and from other land use and land cover changes. By the 1950s, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 had risen from pre-industrial levels of 284 parts-per-million (ppm) to 300 ppm – the highest level in at least 800,000 years (Luthi, 2008) -, and By 2010 reached 388.5 ppm (390.5 ppm in 2011) .

CO2 levels would have increased even more, were it not for the fact that about one quarter of CO2 is being absorbed by the global grasslands and forests, and another quarter by the oceans. The result has been a 30 per cent increase in the acidity of the oceans relative to pre-industrial levels. At the same time, oceans have absorbed 80-90 per cent of the heating from rising greenhouse gas concentrations over the last half-century, driving up ocean temperatures (National Research Council, 2010). Sea surface temperatures affect a range of climate variables including air temperatures and humidity, precipitation, atmospheric circulation and storm attributes. The warmer oceans also expand, accounting for 50-60 per cent of the sea level rise observed since the mid-1800s (National Research Council, 2010). In the 20th century, the rate of sea level rise – 2.1mm per year – was faster than for any century in 2,000 years (Kemp et al., 2011).

The rising temperatures of both the atmosphere and oceans are altering worldwide weather patterns. Colder temperatures are increasingly edged-out by warmer temperatures. Heat waves are becoming more common and intense. Precipitation patterns are changing and heavy precipitation events are becoming more frequent. There are changes in the frequency and severity of droughts. Storm tracks and intensity are changing, including a rise in the intensity of tropical storms over the North Atlantic Ocean (IPCC, 2007)

In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded with “very high confidence” that “recent warming is strongly affecting terrestrial biological systems”; and stated with “high confidence” that “observed changes in marine and freshwater ecological systems are associated with rising water temperatures, as well as related changes in ice cover, salinity, oxygen levels and circulation” (IPCC, 2007).

Finally, according to the National Research Council, warming is likely to exceed 2ºC in the long term unless a sharp and sustained decline of at least 80 per cent in emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 is underway before 2020.

“the world is entering a new geologic epoch, sometimes called the anthropocene, in which human activities will largely control the evolution of earth’s environment. carbon emissions during this century will essentially determine the magnitude of eventual impacts and whether the anthropocene is a short-term, relatively minor change from the current climate or an extreme deviation that lasts thousands of years.” (National Research Council, 2011).

Projecting the ecological footprint to 2050

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), demand for food, feed and fibres could grow by 70 per cent by 2050 (FAO, 2009). This has considerable implications for land use and natural ecosystems, and also for the size of humanity’s Ecological Footprint.

The Ecological Footprint Scenario Calculator uses footprint data between 1961 and 2008 as a baseline, and projects the size of each component of the footprint in 2015, 2030 and 2050 The calculator uses data and projections from other scenario models for population, land use, land productivity, energy use, diet and climate change, and translates them into corresponding trends in Ecological Footprints and biocapacity. The datasets and parameters used in the “business as usual” scenario are included in the figure legend below. The “business as usual” scenario for humanity’s Ecological Footprint shows more and more pressure being placed on the planet. By 2050 humanity would require an equivalent of 2.9 planets to support the “business as usual” assumptions.

The Living Forest model

The Living Forests Model, developed by WWF with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is being used to project forest loss and other land use changes under different scenarios (WWF, 2011). Starting from the reference “Do Nothing Scenario” (where measures were introduced to rein-in deforestation and forest degradation and to increase biodiversity conservation) by which, by 2050, 232 million hectares will be lost, a Target Scenario has been defined and developed (with the target to rich a Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation – ZNDD by 2020), in which by 2050 the lost of forests has been estimated to be about 55.5 million hectares. Then other two kinds of scenarios have been made: the Target delayed Scenario (where the ZNDD target is delayed from 2020 to 2030) in which the net loss of forests will be 124.7 million hectares by 2050; the Half Measures Scenario (in this case the target is to meet a 50% reduction in forest loss by 2020) in which total loss of forests by 2050 will be 139 million hectares
 
 
What can we do? – better choices for a living planet

United Nations (made up of 193 nations), which have committed under various international agreements to end poverty, ensure safe drinking water, protect biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The trends and analyses outlined in this report suggest that under “business as usual”, such expectations and commitments will become increasingly difficult to meet. In order to reverse the declining Living Planet Index, bring the Ecological Footprint down to within planetary limits, avoid dangerous climate change and achieve sustainable development, a fundamental reality must be embedded as the basis of economies, business models and lifestyles: “The Earth’s natural capital” – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – is limited.

WWF’s One Planet perspective explicitly proposes to manage, govern and share natural capital within the Earth’s ecological boundaries. The One Planet perspective reminds us that our choices are highly interdependent. Preserving natural capital, for example, will affect decisions and possible outcomes relating to the way we produce and consume. In the Living Planet Report 2012 16 priority actions (grouped in 5 sections) have been delineated for living within the means of one planet

Preserve natural capital

Natural capital – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – must be preserved and restored as the foundation of human societies and economies. Efforts must particularly focus on protecting and restoring key ecological processes necessary for food, water and energy security, as well as climate change resilience and adaptation. The Earth’s diversity of species and habitats must also be preserved for their intrinsic value. This group is made up 3 priority actions:
  1. Significantly expand the global protected areas network
  2. Halt loss of priority habitats
  3. Restore damaged ecosystems and ecosystem services
Produce better

Efficient production systems would help lower humanity’s Ecological Footprint to within ecological limits by significantly reducing human demand for water, land, energy and other natural resources. This is especially urgent in light of the growing human population and the need to meet the needs of the world’s poor.
  1. Significantly reduce inputs and waste in production systems
  2. Manage resources sustainably
  3. Scale-up renewable energy production
Consume more wisely

Living within the Earth’s ecological limits also requires a global consumption pattern in balance with the Earth’s biocapacity. The immediate focus must be on drastically shrinking the Ecological Footprint of high-income populations – particularly their carbon footprint. Changed dietary patterns among wealthy populations and reduced food waste are crucial, as is innovation for “low and fair” footprint solutions that allow developing nations and emerging economies to fulfil human needs and rights.
  1. Change energy consumption patterns
The type and amount of food eaten by people living in higherincome countries already has global impacts on climate change, land and sea use, water availability and quality, biodiversity and equity issues. In particular, red meat and dairy consumption, and overall food loss and waste, must decrease in developed countries for healthy people and healthy countries.
  1. Promote healthy consumption patterns
  2. Achieve low-footprint lifestyles
Redirect financial flows
 
In too many cases, the overexploitation of resources and damage or destruction of ecosystems are highly profitable for a few stakeholders in the short term; while the long-term benefits of protecting, maintaining and investing in natural capital are inadequately valued or not valued in an economic sense at all. As a result, the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services is undervalued in economic and political trade-offs. Redirected financial flows that support conservation and sustainable ecosystem management are therefore an essential enabling condition for both preserving natural capital and for making better production and consumption choices – and ensuring that burdens are not passed on to future generations.
  1. Value nature
  2. Account for environmental and social costs
  3. Support and reward conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation
Equitable re source governance
 
Equitable resource governance is the second essential enabling condition to shrink and share our resource use to stay within the regenerative capacity of one planet. In addition to efforts to reduce the footprint of high-income populations (see “Consume more wisely” section), we must also improve health and education standards, and create viable economic development plans. These must exist within legal and policy frameworks that provide equitable access to food, water and energy, and be supported by inclusive processes for sustainably managed land use.
  1. Share available resources
  2. Make fair and ecologically informed choices
  3. Measure success “beyond GDP”
  4. Sustainable population

Conclusions

The Living Planet Report 2011, published by the WWF, in collaboration with the Global Footprint Network, highlights two essential results: 1) the current lifestyle, together with the current production system, in a long term perspective, will destroy our Planet; 2) if we don’t act as soon as we can, the combination of the different factors that influence energy supply, ecosystems and the climate, would faster changes. Before a Shock (energetic, climatic or eco-systemic) will occur, we have to act in order to reduce Co2 emissions, manage better lands (without stressing them) and reduce the pollution of the the Oceans. Most of the actions proposed in the Living Planet Report 2012 can grant a turn-round of current scenarios. Perhaps we are still in time, but what we are doing in this sense is still too little and the “business as usual” model is still prevailing in the Advanced and Developing country policy and decisions.
 
 
BIBLIOGRAPHY
 
Abramovitz, J.N., (1996), “Worldwatch paper #128: Imperiled waters, impoverished future: the decline of freshwater ecosystems” Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC
 
Ahrends, A., Burgess, N.D., Milledge, S.A.H., Bulling, M.T., Fisher, B., Smart, J.C.R., Clarke, G.P., Mhoro, B.E. and Lewis, S.L, (2010), “Predictable waves of sequential forest degradation and biodiversity loss spreading from an African city”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107 (33): 14556-14561
 
Anseeuw, W., Alden Wily, L., Cotula, L. and Taylor, M., (2012), Land Rights and the Rush for Land: Findings of the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project, International Land Coalition (ILC), Rome, Italy
 
Chave, J., Olivier, J., Bongers, F., Châtelet, P., Forget, P.M., van der Meer, P., Norden, N.,Riéra, B. and Charles-Dominique, P., (2008), “Aboveground biomass and productivity in a rain forest of eastern South America”, Journal of Tropical Ecology, 24: 355-366
 
Commissione Europea, (2011), Una tabella di marcia verso un'economia competitiva a basse emissioni di carbonio nel 2050 - comunicazione della commissione al parlamento europeo, al consiglio, al comitato economico e sociale europeo e al comitato delle regioni
 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, (2011), Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rebound Quickly After Global Financial Crisis, Tennasee, USA
 
FAO, (2009), The Resource Outlook to 2050: By how much do land, water and crop yields need to increase by 2050? FAO Expert Meeting: “How to Feed the World in 2050”, FAO, Rome, Italy.
 
Galli, A., Kitzes, J., Wermer, P., Wackernagel, M., Niccolucci, V. and Tiezzi, E., (2007), “An exploration of the mathematics behind the Ecological Footprint”, International Journal of Ecodynamics 2 (4): 250-257.
 
Global Footprint Network, Living Planet Report 2012 - http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/living_planet_report1/
 
Goldstone Jack, Kaufmann Eric and Duffy Toft Monica, (2012), Political Demography: How Population Changes Are Reshaping International Security and National Politics, Oxford University Press USA
 
International Energy Agency (IEA), (2012), World Energy Outlook 2011
 
Kemp, A.C., Horton, B.P., Donnelly, J.P., Mann, M.E., Vermeer, M. and Rahmstorf, S., (2011), “Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia”, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 108 (27): 11017-22
 
Kitzes, J., Galli, A., Bagliani, M., Barrett, J., Dige, G., Ede, S., Erb, K.-H., Giljum, S., Haberl, H., Hails, C., Jungwirth, S., Lenzen, M., Lewis, K., Loh, J., Marchettini, N., Messinger, H., Milne, K., Moles, R., Monfreda, C., Moran, D., Nakano, K., Pyhälä, A., Rees, W., Simmons, C., Wackernagel, M., Wada, Y., Walsh, C. and Wiedmann, T., (2009), “A research agenda for improving national Ecological Footprint accounts”, Ecological Economics 68 (7): 1991-2007
 
Luthi, D., Le Floch, M., Bereiter, B., Blunier, T., Barnola, J.M., Siegenthaler, U., Raynaud, D., Jouzel, J., Fischer, H., Kawamura, K. and Stocker, T.F., (2008), “Highresolution carbon dioxide concentration record 650,000-800,000 years before Present”, Nature, 453 (7193): 379-82.
 
McAllister, D.E., Hamilton, A.L. and Harvey, B., (1997), “Global freshwater diversity:Striving for the integrity of freshwater ecosystems”, Sea Wind, 11: 1-140
 
May John, (2012), World Population Policies: Their Origin, Evolution, and Impact, Springer
 
National Research Council, (2010), Advancing the Science of Climate Change, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA
 
National Research Council, (2011), Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA
 
OECD, (marzo 2012), Oecd Environmental Outlook To 2050: The Consequences of Inaction
 
Pallante Maurizio, (2011), La decrescita felice, GEI Gruppo editoriale italiano s.r.l., Roma
 
Paoloni Lorenza (a cura di), (2009), Politiche di forestazione ed emissioni climalteranti, Edizioni Tellus, Roma
 
Rifkin Jeremy, (2002), Economia all'idrogeno, Mondadori
 
Sachs Wolfgang e Morosini Marco (a cura di), (8-3-2011), Futuro sostenibile – Le risposte eco-sociali alle crisi in Europa, Wuppertal Institute, Bruxelles
 
The Economist, (May 19th 2012), “A new science of population. The digressions of people power” - http://www.economist.com/node/21555533
 
UNEP, (2010), The Emissions Gap Report, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
 
UNFPA, (2007), State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of UrbanGrowth, United Nations Population Fund, New York, USA
 
Wackernagel, M., Schulz, N.B., Deumling, D., Linares, A.C., Jenkins, M., Kapos, V., Monfreda, C., Loh, J., Myers, N., Norgaard, R. and Randers, J., (2002), “Tracking the ecological overshoot of the human economy”, PNAS, 99: 9266–9271.
 
World Resources Institute, (2011), World Resources Institute online, www.wri.org, downloaded on: 14th December 2011.
 
WWF, (2006), Living Planet Report, WWF, Gland, Switzerland
 
WWF, (2008), The Living Planet Report, WWF International, Gland, Switzerland
 
WWF, (2010a), The Living Planet Report: Biodiversity, biocapacity and development, WWF-International, Gland, Switzerland
 
WWF, (2010b), Reinventing the City: Three Prequisites for Greening Urban Infrastrctures, WWF International, Gland, Switzerland
 
WWF, (2011a), WWF Living Forests Report, WWF International, Gland, Switzerland
 
WWF, (2011b), The Energy Report: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, WWF, Gland, Switzerland
 
WWF/ZSL, (2012), The Living Planet Index database, WWF and the Zoological Society of London. downloaded on: 22nd February 2012
 
 
LINKS
 
 
 
 
 

 

This article by Dario Ruggiero
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License

 


Downnload the full article in PDF version (with more graphs and data)