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Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2164;

Defying the Footprint Oracle: Implications of Country Resource Trends

Global Footprint Network, 426 17th Street, Suite 700, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
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Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 11 April 2019
PDF [1650 KB, uploaded 11 April 2019]


Mainstream competitiveness and international development analyses pay little attention to the significance of a country’s resource security for its economic performance. This paper challenges this neglect, examining the economic implications of countries resource dynamics, particularly for low-income countries. It explores typologies of resource patterns in the context of those countries’ economic prospects. To begin, the paper explains why it uses Ecological Footprint and biocapacity accounting for its analysis. Data used for the analysis stem from Global Footprint Network’s 2018 edition of its National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. Ranging from 1961 to 2014, these accounts are computed from UN data sets. The accounts track, year by year, how much biologically productive space is occupied by people’s consumption and compare this with how much productive space is available. Both demand and availability are expressed in productivity-adjusted hectares, called global hectares. Using this biophysical accounting perspective, the paper predicts countries’ future socio-economic performance. This analysis is then contrasted with a financial assessment of those countries. The juxtaposition reveals a paradox: Financial assessments seem to contradict assessments based on biophysical trends. The paper offers a way to reconcile this paradox, which also elevates the significance of biophysical country assessments for shaping successful economic policies. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocapacity; resource accounting; economic development; resource security; national performance; ecological footprint biocapacity; resource accounting; economic development; resource security; national performance; ecological footprint

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Wackernagel, M.; Lin, D.; Evans, M.; Hanscom, L.; Raven, P. Defying the Footprint Oracle: Implications of Country Resource Trends. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2164.

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