LIFTING HUMANITY WHILE LOWERING OUR FOOTPRINT
The Ecological Footprint, a leading indicator of sustainability, is an essential assessment and accounting of our demands on global biocapacity. While an important first step, today we need a fuller ecological accounting, viewed in a broader context of human development that includes the unfortunate reality of the world's disenfranchised and poor.
Many world leaders speak of a current global humanitarian crisis. Others address a global ecological crisis. Yet these are integrated and interconnected problems -- and they require integrated, interconnected solutions.
From an awareness of both our ecological footprint and the plight of those struggling to survive emerges a new indicator of sustainability, what I am calling an ecological handprint. Handprints lift the prospect of humanity while also lowering our ecological footprint. They occur at all levels of society, all over the world, and in many forms such as programs, projects, institutions, or policies. Regardless of their scale or location, handsprints provide a powerful new model for the human species and demonstrate a vision of our world where we are both lowering our footprint on the biosphere and raising humanity's standard of living.
Ecological Handprints can also be measured by integrating two fundamental indicators of sustainable development: the Human Development Index and the Ecological Footprint. Each asks a specific question. How well are we doing as a human species (such as literacy and lifespan) and how well are we all living within the biological limits of the planet. While both of these measures are of critical importance, collectively they define the fullest vision of sustainability: a vision of expanding human rights and social justice while working within the limits of our biophysical support system. Together they represent a powerful new integrated indicator of sustainability.
My book, planned for release next year, will include a substantive theoretical basis of the ecological handprint concept, a quantitative analysis of this integrated indicator, and numerous case study examples of handprints from around the world -- many of which I have witness firsthand.