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Earth Overshoot Day

Congratulations to our #PledgeForThePlanet photo contest winners!

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Thank you so much to everyone who made a #pledgefortheplanet and helped spread the awareness of Earth Overshoot Day! We are excited to share the winners in the pledge photo contest!

CONGRATULATIONS to our GoPro Hero Session camera winners cesarinc.17 (China), laura_moningka (The Netherlands), and samzehh (Ireland)!

Prize winners goprosCONGRATULATIONS to our Ticket to the Moon camping hammock winners irene.ay.lee (South Korea), ansmaldino (United States), and timo.permanto (Finland)!

Prize-winners-hammockIf you are one of the winners, please contact us at socialmedia@footprintnetwork.org to claim your prize.

Thank you again for pledging and helping us push Earth Overshoot Day later in the year!

calgary

Our New #pledgefortheplanet: New grant to help one city or region reduce its Footprint

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Calgary skylineTo push Earth Overshoot Day later on the calendar, we need not only individuals but also cities, regions and nations to embrace this challenge.

Thanks to a new grant, we at Global Footprint Network can make a #pledgefortheplanet to work with one city, region or country that wants to reduce its Ecological Footprint – PRO BONO.

What Global Footprint Network offers: We will analyze a specific project or program of the city or region. Potential projects include a new urban development, an energy-efficiency policy, an electric car fleet purchase, or solar panel subsidies, to name just a few of the endless possibilities. We will assess both the Ecological Footprint saved by the project and its potential financial returns. See more on our framework here.

If you are interested, email us at media@footprintnetwork.org. All we need is a simple email that tells us who you are and what you would like to do. We will then set up short phone interviews to determine which project would be the best match.

Read our case study on Calgary, Canada (pictured).

Learn more about city Footprints.

The Personal Reward: Protecting Earth’s Resources Can Boost Your Happiness

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By Elisabeth Comere, 
Director, Environment & Government Affairs, Tetra Pak 

RenewableLiving_Twitter

There’s no question that responsible use of Mother Nature’s resources pays dividends back to the planet. But did you know that adopting simple, renewable habits to protect precious natural resources can be a key to personal happiness as well?

Data from Tetra Pak offers some compelling evidence that renewable lifestyle choices can help people go from feeling glum to good. Shaping our own footprint in new ways is central to sustaining our planet and our society for future generations.

Findings from a survey commissioned by Tetra Pak in the United States and Canada found that 70 percent of those surveyed claimed they felt happier when making eco-minded choices.

These results came on the heels of the world’s first social experiment in renewability, which uncovered how renewable lifestyle choices influence levels of happiness. The Renewable Living Social Experiment was conducted in partnership with University College London (UK) and the Tilburg University (NL). For this social experiment Tetra Pak worked with an academic panel consisting of Dr. Philippa Lally of University College London, a renowned expert on habit formation; Prof. Marcel Zeelenberg of Tilburg University, an expert on how emotions influence behavioral choices; and Rory Sutherland an expert in communication and behavior change.

In this social experiment, we challenged ten leading bloggers in five countries (United States, Brazil, India, France and Spain) to take small steps to adopt simple, renewable habits, defined as habits that help preserve natural resources, such as walking or biking to work or choosing products in packaging made with renewable materials at the grocery store. The experiment showed a significant increase in both how habitual the behaviors became, and how happy they made the bloggers over the 28-day period.

Renewable habits also made our survey respondents happier. They included:

  • Using re-usable drink containers when possible (63 percent)
  • Buying only what can be consumed when shopping at the grocery store (61 percent)
  • Choosing food and beverage products in renewable packaging at the grocery store, like cartons made mainly of paperboard, a natural resource that can be replenished over time (58 percent)

We can all find joy in protecting the planet’s resources. And a starting point for that is to take Tetra Pak’s ‘Habits of Happiness’ Quiz which can help assess where you stand in the happiness scale, both before and after you adopt renewable lifestyle choices.

So what’s specifically involved in Renewable Living? Quite simply, it’s about embracing new habits that can help protect the planet’s natural resources. Even simple lifestyle behaviors, like taking shorter showers to conserve water, or biking or walking to work instead of driving to preserve fossil fuels and curb carbon emissions and global warming have the power to make a big impact, on both a personal and global scale.

Tetra Pak’s study shows that even taking these small actions can have a significant collective benefit: A happier planet and happier people on the planet.

**Sponsored Post**

Food losses and waste: a challenge to sustainable development

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By José Graziano da Silva

Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations

[Read a version of this blog post in Portuguese here.]

 

We are all committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. A key goal we have set for ourselves is to attain zero hunger by 2030. Managing agriculture and food systems in a sustainable manner is key to reaching our shared goals. We have made these commitments knowing that we already produce enough food to feed every one, although almost 800 million people are still suffering from hunger. At the same time, more than 2 billion people are “over nourished,” either overweight or obese. The food systems have not performed in line with our expectations.

Food waste is one of the important manifestations of the inefficiencies that plague our food systems. The world has recognized the problem. One of the SDG targets states that, by 2030, we should reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, and cut in half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels.

cereals_enFood losses and waste occur along the entire agricultural value chain and at all stages from the farm to the table. Preliminary estimates show that up to 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost and wasted per year[i], equivalent to 24 percent of all food calories produced for human consumption[ii]. These totals encompass the entire value chain. Of these, losses on the farm, at storage and handling account for more than 520 million tonnes, equivalent to nearly 8 percent of all food calories produced. Losses on the farm and during storage are particularly high in poorer countries, exceeding 1 billion tonnes or nearly 12 percent of all calories produced in Africa.

Food losses take a heavy toll on food security …

The high burden of food losses in low-income countries often results from insufficient or obsolete harvest and post-harvest technologies; from often woefully inadequate storage, transportation, processing and cooling facilities; from a lack of infrastructure, or poor packaging and marketing systems. And from low prices received by the participants in the value chain, making the net return on investment in appropriate technologies extremely low or negative.

These losses take a huge toll on proceeds available to farmers — especially small farmers — with poor access to the means of preventing losses. Losses therefore reduce not only the amount of food directly available to feed the family members of a farm household, but also lower the income available to purchase the foodstuffs necessary to supplement the meagre supplies in the off-season periods. As improved storage and handling facilities also help smooth seasonal shortfalls and preserve the nutrient content, this enhances stability of food supplies as well as food quality and utilisation. In sum, addressing these losses add to all four dimensions of food security, availability, access, utilisation and stability.

… and, at the same time, deepen the resource footprints of food production

cereals_enIn addition to the losses at the primary level, there are even larger quantities lost while primary products are being processed, stored and handled in supermarkets and households. These forms of losses and waste account for 780 million tonnes globally, or 16 percent of all the produced food calories. Avoiding such losses would provide added advantages for food security, for instance by providing the much needed supplies for food banks and safety nets, including in high-income countries.

Avoiding these losses and waste present a large bonus for the Earth’s ecosystems, reducing the deep Footprint that food production and consumption can leave on its resource base. Food losses and waste add to existing pressures on land, water, and biodiversity and are the cause of additional Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, affecting local resources and the global environment. Current food losses and waste estimates indicate that approximately 28 percent of the world’s agricultural land are used to produce food that is never consumed by humans. At the same time, large amounts of energy and water resources are also used throughout the food supply chain to produce, process, store and transport calories that end up wasted. The (GHG) emissions related to food loss and waste are estimated to account for considerable percentage of total emissions. They could be so large that, if food losses and waste were to be concentrated as one country, such a country would be the world’s third-largest emitter, only surpassed by China and the United States[iii].

With growing resource constraints and the need to increase global agricultural production by 60 percent by the year 2050, reducing losses and waste becomes a key element in sustainable global development. To increase food availability, food loss and waste reduction is in principle far more efficient than expanding food production. Hence the global community has agreed on the Sustainable Development Goal number 12 (SDG 12), and identified a specific target (12.3) aiming to halve per capita global food waste and reduce food losses by 2030.

What can be done to reduce food losses and waste, preserve our ecosystems and reduce our impact on climate change?

Food losses and waste must be tackled along the whole food supply chain, to create sustainable food systems.

cereals_enManagerial and technical deficiencies are important causes of food losses in developing countries, especially at the harvest and post-harvest stages. In such cases, simple, low-cost innovations can make a big difference. For example, the introduction of simple elevated racks for drying fish in the Burundian coast of Lake Tanganyika has greatly reduced losses and increased the wellbeing of fish processors, the majority of whom are women. Similarly, an FAO-led project in Uganda, DRC Congo and Burkina Faso provided training to smallholders and helped them purchase plastic bags and metallic containers, substantially reducing food losses compared to when food was stored using traditional facilities such as granaries[iv].

Of course, introducing technical solutions are most effective when other parts of the food supply chain are also functioning properly. Improved on-farm storage may ultimately have little impact on food loss if, for instance, farmers do not have access to markets to sell their produce. Boosting investment in infrastructure and in packaging, transportation and marketing facilities is fundamental. Low prices received by farmers and lack of instruments to manage risk may discourage the adoption of technical and managerial innovations even when those are available and known.

The problem of food waste may be more complex to tackle, as it requires changes in the way we value and consume food. Our current consumption patterns are not sustainable. Food waste is effectively linked to consumer demand, which constantly evolves and is influenced by many cultural and social factors that do not always follow economic or ecological rationality. Thus, consumer awareness is a basic step to improve our abilities in food planning, purchasing and consumption. Education on these matters in schools and political initiatives are important starting points.

Another option is to develop markets for ‘sub-standard’ products and use consumer surveys to influence quality standards. Many private standards, set by retailers to ensure certain characteristics of the products, lead to waste food items that are still perfectly edible but not aesthetic due to their size, colour or shape. Both commercial and charity organizations should be encouraged to arrange for the collection and sale or use of discarded ‘sub-standard’ products that are still safe and of good taste and nutritional value[v].

fish_enRaising awareness is key in all this. The SAVE FOOD initiative, a unique partnership led by FAO involving government, civil society, research and the private sector, is now on its way to raise awareness on the impact of, and solutions for, food losses and waste. Counting on more than 500 companies and organizations, its aim is to facilitate dialogue among stakeholders, drive innovation and evidence for policies and strategies, and raise awareness through a global communication campaign and the organization of regional SAVE FOOD congresses.

Other notable mechanisms include the Global Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction launched by FAO, IFAD and WFP, and the FAO-supported Food Loss and Waste Protocol and Standard. Building on these existing partnerships, and at the recommendation of the G20, a Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste was launched in late 2015, with the objective to raise awareness, share best practices and improve the measurement of food losses and waste.

 

[i] Global Food Losses and Food Waste, FAO 2011
[ii] Lipinski et al (2013) Reducing Food Loss and Waste, World Resources Institute
[iii] Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, FAO 2013
[iv] http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/New-FAO-project-to-help-African-farmers-cut-food-losses–/-/2558/2690368/-/y88lo5/-/index.html
[v] Global Food Losses and Food Waste, FAO 2011

Earth overdraft

It Takes Two to Save the Earth

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By Leigh Moyer
Population Organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity

Time is running out. We’re just two weeks out from Earth Overshoot Day — the day when we humans have used all the resources the planet can replenish in a year. Everything after August 8 is borrowed from wildlife and future generations. That probably sounds scary, and that’s because it is. It feels like one of those problems that’s way bigger than you. I mean, what can one person do?

More importantly, what can two people do.

Earth overdraftLet’s back up for a second. What the heck does overshoot mean? Think of the resources the Earth and all its systems create and sustain — like food, fresh water, clean air and healthy soil — as a budget. It’s a pretty big budget that should cover the cost of everyone (and thing) that lives here. But we’ve busted the bank. Humans are now using one and half times the resources the planet can restore each year. Overshoot means we’ve gone way over budget.

Overshoot is about overconsumption. We’re putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the planet can absorb. We’re using more water than rivers and lakes can replenish. We’re using up land at the expense of wildlife habitat. A lot of this comes back to wasteful practices that ignore the impact of industry on the planet. But the sheer number of people plays a role, too. Not only do humans demand a lot of resources, but there are also a lot of us making those demands. A whole lot. Our population has exploded in the last 200 years, from under a billion people in the early 1800s to over 7 billion today.

And this is where those two people come in. In the United States, nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended. So it’s up to every couple to make sure that if their family grows, it’s intentional.

What can you (and your partner) do to help balance our ecological check book?

Read full post on Medium.com

Oops, Earth Overshoot Day 2015 was four days earlier, given China’s revised carbon data/ GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK

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EOD_china_recalculation_250Earlier this year, Global Footprint Network calculated that Earth Overshoot Day—the day when humanity has spent Earth’s budget for the entire year—landed on August 13. But new data on China’s coal consumption significantly alters our calculation, ultimately moving Earth Overshoot Day to August 9, four days earlier on the calendar.

This week China’s statistical agency quietly published new data indicating China has been consuming up to 17% more coal a year than previously reported.

In 2012 alone, China consumed 600 metric tons more coal than previously indicated, which is equivalent to 70% of annual coal use in the United States, according to a New York Times article. This means China has released nearly one billion more tons of carbon dioxide a year than previous data shows – a massive upward revision.

China’s revised coal numbers result in a 1.6% increase in humanity’s Ecological Footprint, pulling Earth Overshoot Day four days earlier.

All official forecasts and emission policies were based on China’s previous data. Global leaders will have to face these implications in the upcoming climate talks in Paris in December. The numbers suggest it may be more difficult for China to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, as pledged by President Xi Jingping, generating much optimism last year. Or perhaps the news will propel even more nations, cities, businesses and leaders to up the ante with their own climate change mitigation efforts.

Earth Overshoot Day, a year long conversation/ GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK

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cloudcropIn 2015 Earth Overshoot Day raised global public awareness of natural resource constraints to new heights. More than 30 organizations joined our efforts to spread the word about natural resource constraints on the new website overshootday.org, helping raise Earth Overshoot Day-related page views by 18 percent over last year.

Read more at Global Footprint Network’s blog.

Big and Small Things You Can Do Now to Help Extend Earth Offshoot Day/ CARE2

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On August 13, Earth reached a milestone that wasn’t worth celebrating. That day was Earth Overshoot Day, the point where our resource consumption exceeded Earth’s ability to regenerate those resources for the year.

This calculation comes from the Global Footprint Network (GFN), a United States-based independent think tank. The organization’s focus is to provide decision makers a number of ways that the human economy can operate within the Earth’s ecological limits.

Read more from CARE2

Earth Overshoot Day/EARTH DAY NETWORK

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GFN_EOD_logo_2015_150t_trOur lifestyle is not sustainable. In fact, it hasn’t been since the 1970’s when human demands on nature began far exceeding the ability of the Earth to replenish its natural resources. We now live in a state of global ecological overshoot: allowing carbon dioxide to accumulate in the atmosphere, polluting our air and water ways, and causing natural landscapes to wilt into deserts and icecaps to melt into seas.

Read More: Earth Day Network

Earth Overshoot Day: the debt we can’t ignore

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planet_smallToday is Earth Overshoot Day. It’s the day when, as a planet, we collectively reach the limit of how much resources we can use this year without jeopardising the planet’s ability to replenish those resources for the future.

Take a lake full of fish: there’s a limit to the amount of fish that can be caught each year while still leaving enough to reproduce and build back the stock for next year. Today we hit that limit, for the planet as a whole.

Read more from the NEF blog

Creativity Against Earth Overshoot

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Seven artists submitted their creative work to our Earth Overshoot Day competition with Do the Green Thing, a UK-based nonprofit. Please take a look at their wonderful work at the bottom of this post!

Artists were asked to photograph, illustrate or design artwork related to Earth Overshoot Day, and the winner was offered £200 and the opportunity to have his or her artwork featured on the websites of Earth Overshoot Day and Do the Green Thing.

The official winner is Sean Antonioli, who created the first image below. Here is what Sean writes of his work:

“Responding to the Population aspect that families should become better educated about ecological issues, my piece is a call for parents to take the lead and show by doing.  The recent campaigns for electric cars show a more educated alternative to our current petrol driven habits. As parents include a charge up in their routine, children watch and mimic. In a way, they are learning better habits for our planet. ‘Lead the way’ calls parents to think about how they pass down a greener mindset and set our children up for a better future.”

Congratulations, Sean, and thanks to all the artists for dedicating their valuable time to help end overshoot!

Tim Gulden

Tim Gulden
(click and zoom for full image)

 

Ecuador impulsa nuevas iniciativas para reducir la huella ecológica

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ecuador_smallLa Huella Ecológica es una herramienta utilizada para medir la demanda de recursos naturales de la humanidad sobre la capacidad regenerativa de nuestro planeta, conocida como Biocapacidad mundial. Entonces, mediante el cálculo de la huella ecológica podemos evaluar el impacto sobre el planeta de un determinado modo o forma de vida y compararlo con la biocapacidad del planeta; con el fin de trabajar en acciones que logren remediar el impacto ambiental generado por las personas.

Ver más: Ministerio del Ambiente