02.10.2012 - UNESCO Office in Venice

The Mediterranean region requires 2,5 times more resources than its ecosystems can renew in one year

©Global Footprint Network - Mediterranean Ecological Footprint Trends

Growing demands on the Mediterranean region’s ecosystems threaten the foundation of its social and economic well-being, the international think tank Global Footprint Network reports in a two-year study. The Conference on “Securing Competitiveness for the Mediterranean. Exploring Ecological Footprint and biocapacity trends and their implications for the Mediterranean" started with the official release of the Mediterranean Ecological Footprint Trends report.

The two-day conference, organized by the Global Footprint Network and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), with the support of the MAVA Foundation, is debating the implications of the report’s findings and the national strategies required in a resource-constrained world. 

The 21st century will be defined by resource constraints; as our Ecological Footprint continues to exceed Earth’s biocapacity, we overdraw from our future. The international think tank Global Footprint Network - an international science and policy institute working to advance sustainability through use of the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what - released today at the Venice Conference the findings of the two-year study: Mediterranean Ecological Footprint Trends.

By 2008, the region’s Ecological Footprint - the demand on Earth’s bioproductive land and sea areas - exceeded local available ecological assets by more than 150 percent. With maybe one exception (Montenegro), every country in the Mediterranean region has now moved from ecological creditor to debtor status, and demand more of Earth’s renewable resources than are locally available. Countries meet their ecological deficits through trade and overexploiting their own ecosystems. The study also found that in less the 50 years, the Mediterranean region nearly tripled its demands for ecological resources and services, and increased its ecological deficit by 230 percent. The higher the income of a country, the greater was its demand for ecological resources and services (and the higher its per capita consumption). 

"This report shows clearly how a growing demand on the Mediterranean region’s ecosystems threatens the foundation of its social and economic well-being. In an international environment marked by rapid change and new challenges, three strategic directions for UNESCO have been drawn by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in order to fulfill our commitment to promote cooperation among people and to contribute to peace and sustainable development by implementing activities in the field of education, sciences and culture: learning to live together in an age of diversity; learning to develop sustainably in an age of limits; and, innovation for building peace and knowledge societies. Education, but also the Natural and Social Sciences are key drivers to attain sustainability. We also strongly believe that the calculation of the Ecological Footprint, applied to schools and universities, has a great educational potential” said Yolanda Valle-Neff, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy).

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