Global Footprint Network
2017 Annual Report

Message from CEO Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D.

Mathis Wackernagel2017 was marked by a series of ups and downs in the world’s attempts to address climate change and natural resource constraints. Many reeled in shock over the U.S. administration’s devotion to dismantling national and international environmental efforts. Then France President Emmanuel Macron stepped up and closed the year on an upbeat note with his One Planet Summit in Paris, just four months after massive media coverage of Earth Overshoot Day in France. The one-planet theme reinforces Global Footprint Network’s vision of a future where all thrive within the means of our one planet.

Climate change continues to be one of the biggest challenges of our generation, and Global Footprint Network offers the most comprehensive metric to compare human demand for ecological resources and services, including carbon sequestration, to what Earth can renew. The Ecological Footprint sums up all competing human demands on nature, including carbon emissions from fossil fuel use. To live up to the Paris Agreement’s climate goals, we need to find ways to live within the planet’s regenerative capacity, as the population and its needs are growing. Therefore, Ecological Footprint accounting becomes an increasingly central metric for those committed to making their economies succeed.

Within this ever-changing landscape, Global Footprint Network focused even more forcefully in 2017 on providing our data more broadly—and freely—to city and national decision-makers, students and educators, academics, and of course data lovers like us around the world.

Some 2017 accomplishments include:

  • We redesigned our online Footprint Calculator, a popular educational tool, reaching 700,000 new users in just four short months.
  • We made all of our National Footprint Accounts data on more than 200 countries available for free on our new Ecological Footprint Explorer open data platform.
  • We reached the largest audience ever with our campaign to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Dayattracting coverage on about 2,000 websites in 100+ countries and generating 1+ billion media impressions.
  • We continued to work with governments on different continents to use the Footprint to spark sustainability policy and shape public opinion, including Colombia, Japan, Montenegro, Portugal, and Germany.

This would never be possible without the help of our generous donors. Thank you for helping us make impact in this world.

With warmest regards,


Mathis Wackernagel
CEO & Co-Founder
Global Footprint Network


What happens when an infinite-growth economy runs into a finite planet?


Water shortages, overgrazing, desertification, and species extinction.


Deforestation, reduced cropland productivity and fishery collapse.


Each of these crises, is a symptom of a single, over-riding issue.


Humanity is simply demanding more
than the Earth can provide.


Though resource and population trends have tremendous inertia,
we believe they can be reversed.


Global Footprint Network has the tools to help individuals, cities, and countries thrive in a resource-constrained world.

OUR MISSION is to help end ecological overshoot by making ecological limits central to decision-making.

OUR VISION is that all can thrive within the means of our one planet.

Founded in 2003, we began our work with governments across the globe.
Our accomplishments from 2017 include:


The province of Nariño, Colombia, boasts extraordinary natural beauty and is a biological hotspot home to more than 5,000 species of plants and animals. We worked with Nariño’s leaders to develop a sustainability monitoring framework to aid in the transformation of Nariño to a green economy. READ MORE

North-Rhine Westphalia

In the first Ecological Footprint analysis of Germany’s most populous state, we found that North-Rhine Westphalia needs more than five times the resources than its own ecosystems can renew. Carbon emissions are a large driver of the region’s high Ecological Footprint. Then Environment Minister Johannes Remmel used the analysis to call for an orderly exit from the coal industry. READ MORE


With our partner ZERO, we launched a project with six cities in Portugal to calculate their Ecological Footprints and biocapacities. The aim is to influence national policy so that this data is incorporated into the criteria that determines the funding of each municipality by the national government. READ MORE


As part of the DestiMED project, we began working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to measure and reduce the environmental impact of tourism. This innovative approach, based on the Ecological Footprint framework, will be applied to 13 protected areas in six Mediterranean countries. READ MORE

2017 was an exceptional year for building momentum to #MoveTheDate.

The Footprint Calculator was used nearly 2.4 million times in 2017.

With the help of our sponsor, Schneider Electric, we updated and redesigned this popular educational tool. Xavier Houot, Schneider’s Senior Vice President Safety, Environment, and Real Estate (pictured here with Global Footprint Network CEO Mathis Wackernagel), became one of our most ardent Footprint champions. He explained how Schneider Electric’s business model aims to #MoveTheDate in a Q&A. READ MORE

Calculator Testimonials

"On the first day of my environmental science class, we took a very eye-opening quiz on our lifestyle choices and how they affect the planet. The quiz offers solutions for lessening your impact. Since I took the quiz, my family has made some of those changes to our lifestyle."

MARY CLARE, Student, United States

"I love the work of Global Footprint Network. Their Calculator, Earth Overshoot Day campaign, and metrics on the number of Earths we use are great tools to discuss the future of Earth and the people living on it. They motivate each individual to change their lifestyle for the better and they clearly demonstrate the need for political action and transformation."

DR. GREGOR HAGEDORN, Academic Director, Museum of Natural History, Berlin, Germany

"I like that before you get the breakdown of your results, the calculator actually tells me my personal Overshoot Day. It’s almost like having a date for your birthday. Our students really enjoyed that aspect."

ANDREA COLLINS, Lecturer, Cardiff University, Canada

Earth Overshoot Day is the date when we use more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. In 2017, it fell on Aug. 2.

Overshoot Day
By the Numbers

media articles and blog posts
countries that covered Overshoot Day
NGOs, corporations, and government agencies promoted Overshoot Day
pledges to #MoveTheDate

Overshoot Day
In the News

Data lovers worldwide dived into our new Ecological Footprint Explorer open data platform.

Thought leaders from Capgemini, Google, GreenBiz, the City of Oakland, the startup Aclima, and San Francisco International Airport joined Global Footprint Network Program Director Laurel Hanscom (second from left) for a panel discussion at our Footprint Explorer launch event in San Francisco. Among the questions the panel addressed: What are the barriers to sustainability for a city, an airport? What could Google Earth possibly still need in its quest to apply data to environmental challenges? What would you like a conversation on data and sustainability to sound like two years from now? READ MORE

activists, academics, and analysts visited the Footprint Explorer open data platform

Data User Testimonials

"The Ecological Footprint's ability to provide both a global and country view of sustainability is especially powerful at showing people how we are living beyond the means of our planet, but in a way that is easy for the average person and student to understand."

RONALD E. MEISSEN, Ph.D.Former Senior Director, Sustainability, Baxter International Inc.

"The Ecological Footprint has been very useful to the municipality of Guimarães not only to assess our greening policies, but also to help us determine in which areas we ought to focus our efforts in order to improve sustainability at the local level."

ISABEL LOUREIRO, Ph.D.Professor at the University of Minho, Portugal

"Data provided by Global Footprint Network reveals collective trends and their variations among national communities. It was the inspiration for sections in my books '¿Somos la especie equivocada?' (2010) and 'Los Homo sabios' (2015) as well as some viewpoints expressed in social public nets."

JORGE A. COLOMBO, MD, Ph.D.Director Emeritus, Unit of Applied Neurobiology (UNA, CEMIC-CONICET); Principal Investigator, CONICET, Cdad. Buenos Aires, Argentina

“For every innovation, we need to include in our assessment some questions of the form: ‘What if this catches on?’ Not merely the Dragons’ Den question of ‘Can this business scale?’ – but the Global Footprint Network question of, ‘Can the planet tolerate this business’s success?’”

PETER COFFEEVP for Strategic Research, Salesforce

"I used Global Footprint Network’s data to examine the stationarity of the Ecological Footprint for 128 countries for the period 1961–2013. It helped me publish 'Persistence of policy shocks to an environmental degradation index: The case of ecological footprint in 128 developed and developing countries,' in Ecological Indicators."


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Our Supporters

Our Team

Peter Seidel is an architect, teacher, author, environmentalist, and loyal Global Footprint Network friend and supporter. He shares why he’s been supporting our work for many years.

2017 Financials



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