Global Footprint Network
2021 Annual Report

Message from our President

For many, 2021 felt like an extension of 2020, with COVID still dominating the landscape, conferences continuing to be delayed, and people still feeling cooped up. The challenges faced in many places around the globe have been heart-breaking, particularly in low-income areas where educational and economic opportunities have been suspended.

This is why our publication in Nature Sustainability, which highlights the importance of resource security for poverty eradication, was particularly timely. It highlighted how the lack of resource security, combined with insufficient income to secure resources from elsewhere, is becoming increasingly common; 72% of the world’s population lives in countries which face this double resource challenge. This is amplifying the fragility of development and human wellbeing everywhere.

Still, against this challenging backdrop, we’re proud that we’ve once again succeeded in driving the sustainability conversation through many channels, not least of which is our annual Earth Overshoot Day campaign, which was covered in 100+ countries. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day also marked the launch of 100 Days of Possibility. For 100 days leading up to COP26, we shared creative, economically viable, and scalable solutions that can #MoveTheDate, and we quantified the impact of many of those solutions.

Since the organization’s inception, we have been experimenting with communicating about resource constraints and biological regeneration. This year, I reflected on our communication successes and failures in our blog series Three Decades & Counting. Our intention was to examine and improve how we engage with our partners and audiences, and to learn how we can be more effective together.

The long awaited climate convention, COP26, finally opened its doors in late 2021. While the decisions that came out of Glasgow were less than ideal, our work has made critical strides in stressing the importance of resource security in other arenas. Noteworthy highlights from 2021 include:

  • The emphasis on overshoot in the UK government’s 2021 Dasgupta Review. The report is a strong reference piece for grounding economics on an ecological foundation, and we’re thrilled that it shares our view on the significance of ecological overshoot and helps build the bridge that links climate, biodiversity, and the human economy.
  • Soaring usage of our ever popular Footprint Calculator. 4 million users visited the Calculator to assess their personal Ecological Footprint and determine when Earth Overshoot Day would fall if everyone on the planet lived like them.
  • Bringing to the forefront the importance of addressing the role that food plays in our overshoot dilemma. We detailed ten “impossible imperatives” to explain just how important it is to consider the food Footprint in the fight to end overshoot.

Words aren’t enough to express our gratitude for the generous donors who make our work possible. Thank you for helping us create a world where all can thrive within the means of our one planet.

Warm wishes,



Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D.
President & Co-Founder


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 and organizations across the globe.
Our accomplishments from 2021 include:


As part of the FEAST Project (Lifeworlds of Sustainable Food Consumption and Production-Agrifood Systems in Transition), we computed the Ecological Footprint of Japan’s 47 prefectures using a replicable top-down Footprint approach. Outcomes of the project are detailed in a Journal of Cleaner Production paper.


In Portugal, the number of cities committed to using our custom City Footprint Calculator to help them develop appropriate ecosystem restoration policies with a view to growing their biocapacity, reached 20 in 2021.


In the world of travel, our contribution to the DestiMED project led to conservation-conscious ecotourism packages becoming available in Croatia and Greece.

We also launched Foodnected, a project designed to promote the transition to sustainable and fair food systems in the Mediterranean region.

2021 was an exceptional year for building momentum to #MoveTheDate.

The Footprint Calculator was used 5.3 million times in 2021.

Our mobile-friendly calculator (available in eight languages) continues to be a widely-used and efficient tool to help individuals measure their Ecological Footprint and determine their personal Earth Overshoot Day.

Calculator Testimonials

"The Footprint Calculator is a great way to help students learn about sustainability. It allows them to interact with Ecological Footprint data in a user friendly and engaging way. They begin to understand their own resource use and translate that to what is happening on a national and global level."

ALICE FREUND, Science Teacher, United States

"A year ago, my personal overshoot day was April 14 and now it’s August 22! I think it’s important to get my personal overshoot day down to needing the resources of only 1 Earth (or, ideally, less than 1) and am so excited by the strides I've made over just one year. I truly believe that, no matter where you live, it is possible for everyone to live happy and healthy lives without using up more resources than our planet can renew."

SHAUNA KOSORIS, Writer and Narrative Designer, Canada

Earth Overshoot Day is the date when we use more from nature than our planet can regenerate in the entire year. In 2021, it fell on July 29.

In 2021, Earth Overshoot Day generated global media coverage. It was covered in 100+ countries through nearly 6,000 news items. Extensive radio and TV coverage in Europe included national and top-tier media such as multiple BBC outlets and an interview with the US National Public Radio. Earth Overshoot day was even highlighted in an infographic featured on the Financial Times cover.

Earth Overshoot Day marked day 1 in the 100 Days of Possibility initiative, an amazing team effort to share a solution daily – from 20 countries in all. The initiative’s goal, in the weeks leading up to COP26, was to help focus mindsets on what is possible and to remind us that we can choose to act without delay, given all that’s available to us, regardless of intergovernmental decisions and agreements.

Earth Overshoot Day
By the Numbers

media impressions from 5,752 websites
countries covered Overshoot Day
solutions to #MoveTheDate published during 100 Days of Possibility

Earth Overshoot Day
In the News

We reached more data lovers with our open data platform than ever before.

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

Data User Testimonials

"I think that every human being has to take it [Ecological Footprint data] very seriously because we don't have the time...I think the new generation has to use the tools that science provides to make it a better world, to improve the Footprint, to improve the statistics, but also the quality of life."

ROSALIA ARTEAGA, Former President and Vice President of Ecuador, Ex-Secretary of OTCA, President of FIDAL, Ecuador

"I’ve always wondered about consumption relative to the Earth’s capacity. Global Footprint Network has excellent data and fantastic graphics and maps that summarize the impact of lifestyle choices in various countries."

RON THOMPSON, Writer and Economist, Canada

A new EUSTEPs teaching module was introduced, now offering sustainability education
to the entire academic community.

From its onset, the EUSTEPs (Enhancing Universities’ Sustainability TEaching and Practices) project aimed to introduce a broader and holistic approach to teaching and practicing sustainability within universities, calling the administrative staff of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) — together with students, educators, and management bodies — to embrace a more sustainable university by developing a set of multidisciplinary skills and a necessary shift in attitudes. Complementing the module for students and the associated educators’ manual, the new Administrative Staff Module became available in 2021. It is designed to help administrative staff grasp how sustainability relates to not only the whole spectrum of daily life but also with their workplace and the administration of HEIs.

We believe our work is more necessary and useful than ever, and we are
grateful that others agree.

We received recognition from noteworthy NGO and government entities:

We couldn’t do our work without our generous supporters and dedicated team.

Thank you for your support!

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.



Our family of websites — is Global Footprint Network’s main site and offers all the background on the Ecological Footprint and its applications — provides all key results for the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts on an open data platform — allows individuals to estimate their own Footprint and their personal Overshoot Date.  Is the entry point to the #MoveTheDate map — hosts Earth Overshoot Day and features solutions to #MoveTheDate — highlights the relevance of Ecological Footprint and re­lated results for the finance industry — applies the Ecological Footprint logic to Switzerland’s competitiveness and — provide information about the Ecologi­cal Footprint in English and Chinese – Footprint Data Foundation is the newly established, independent organization to host the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. The intent is also to have this data organization be embraced by an alliance of international institutions, as explained at