New Society Authors Win Blue Planet Prize
The Asahi Glass Foundation has selected Drs. William E. Rees and Mathis Wackernagel co-authors of Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth to receive this year's Blue Planet Prize, along with Thomas Lovejoy, conservation biologist. The international environmental award, now in its 21st year, is awarded to individuals and organizations that make outstanding achievements in scientific research and its application in helping to solve global environmental problems.
Building on Rees' earlier work on human carrying capacity, Wackernagel and Rees published Our Ecological Footprint with New Society Publishers in 1996. Since then, it has become the world's premier resource accounting system, to track humanity's demands on nature. The Ecological Footprint measures the area of productive land and water, or "biocapacity," required to produce the resources a human population consumes and to absorb its carbon waste.
Wackernagel co-founded Global Footprint Network in 2003, with the goal of making resource limits central to decision-making. According to the organization's most recent data, humanity's demand for resources exceeds Earth's regenerative capacity by 53 percent.
"Ever more countries continue to use more resources than they can renew within their own boundaries," Drs. Wackernagel and Rees said. "Until countries begin tracking and managing their biocapacity deficits, they put not only themselves at risk but, more importantly, the entire planet."
A growing number of governments, including many in Latin America, are adopting Footprint accounting. In Brazil, the cities of Curitiba and Campo Grande and the city and state of Sao Paulo are now calculating their Ecological Footprint in partnership with WWF-Brazil.
The Asahi Foundation presented the awards at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro on June 17, in advance of the United Nations' Rio+20 Earth Summit.
Dr. Wackernagel, President and Co-founder of Global Footprint Network, has promoted sustainability on six continents and lectured at numerous universities. Dr. Rees is an ecologist, ecological economist, Founding Director of the One Earth Initiative, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning.
The Asahi Glass Foundation established the Blue Planet Prize in 1992, the year of the first Earth Summit. The Prize is offered in the hopes of encouraging efforts to bring about the healing of the Earth's fragile environment.