The ecological footprint of Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica and the Netherlands

De ecologische voetafdruk van Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica en Nederland


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The Ecological Footprint (EF) has recieved much attention as a potential indicator for sustainable development over the last years. In this report, the EF concept has been applied to four different countries, i.e. Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica and the Netherlands in 1980, 1987 and 1994. The results of the assessment are discussed and the experiences are used to discuss the current potential and limitations of the EF as a sustainable development indicator. The originally defined methodology has been slightly adapted: 1) the report focuses on individual components of the EF (land and carbon dioxide emissions) instead of focuses on the aggregated EF and 2) the land use calculations are based on local yiels instead of global average yields. Although per capita and total land use highly differ among the four countries, available data suggests increasing land use in all four countries while per capita land use decreases. The EF for carbon dioxide emissions increases for all four countries both per capita and in absolute terms. Differences in productivity, aggregation (of different resources) and multi-functional land use have been shown to be important obstacles in EF application - depending on the assessment objective. However, despite the obstacles, the study concludes that the EF has been successful in providing an interesting basis for discussion on environmental effects of consumption patterns - including those outside the national borders - and on equity concerning resource use.

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