Sustainable Cities and Communities

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Ecological Footprint: Pragmatic Approach to Understanding and Building Sustainable Cities

  • Nana Bortsie-AryeeEmail author
  • Cle-Anne Gabriel
Living reference work entry



Ecological footprint is an approach used to measure the impact of human activities on the natural environment (Van den Bergh and Verbruggen 1999; Wackernagel and Rees 1998). It is a common indicator of the quantity of natural environment resources needed to support human systems. These systems can range in specificity from individuals to whole economies (Hoekstra 2009; Wackernagel and Rees 1997). Users of ecological footprinting techniques emphasize that ecological footprint can be differentiated from other sustainability indicators in two important ways (Hoektra 2009). Firstly, it expresses the impact of humanity with a single unit and, secondly, it expresses human impact in relation to Earth’s carrying capacity (i.e., Earth’s ability to support life). Ecological footprint has been popularized due to concerns about Earth’s declining carrying capacity; the footprint proved to be an effective baseline to acknowledge and quantify the current impact...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global GreenTag Pty Ltd.BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.UQ Business SchoolThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Luciana Brandli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Passo FundoPasso FundoBrazil