The latest news from the world of sustainability, the latest views from the brains behind Best Foot Forward
Blog by Nicky Chambers, CEO, 24 October 2012
Apart from the rather bumpy rides on the hovercraft, I had a great time last week, speaking at the EcoIslands Global Summit 2012. The Isle of Wight has a special place in the heart and history of Best Foot Forward, having been the guinea pig for the world’s first ever Ecological Footprint of a community. We started that seminal project in 1999 and it was very exciting to return 13 years later and see what is going on now.
The EcoIsland project is being overseen by the ‘force of nature’ David Green, the visionary islander who has been busy putting in place all the elements needed for successful radical change. The profile and community awareness of the project was evident in the Isle of Wight news bulletin on the radio in my taxi and on the enormous adverts on the sides of buses. Key partnerships with technology providers were evident from the exhibitors (companies large and small) setting up their kit in the car park. Political will was evident from the attendance of both the local MP and the Minister of State for energy and climate change. These are the building blocks, the parts that need to be woven together to actually deliver the vision.
But what IS the vision? The vision is a ‘truly sustainable community’. But what IS a truly sustainable community? Like the irritating but lovable Donkey in Shrek, we all want to know the answer to ‘Are we there yet?’
If we don’t have a sense of what our destination looks like, we run the risk of not seeing the bigger picture, of not understanding how the different parts fit together and of not being able to see the right path ahead.
This is where our partnership with Ecoislands comes in - with metrics, and specifically the Ecological Footprint. It’s an established concept that calculates the land area required to provide the resources (fuel, food fibre, minerals and so on) and absorb the waste products (greenhouse gases and materials) that a person, community, organisation or even a product uses or needs. We can then compare that footprint with the ability of the earth to provide these services, at the local level (biocapacity) and at the global level (an ‘earthshare’ is what you get if divide all the land area in the world by all the people). This means we know what the desired destination is and how far away we are. And it turns out, Isle of Wight residents are making real, concrete progress in reducing their Ecological Footprint, and bringing it nearer to the earthshare they can afford.
I’m especially excited about the Isle of Wight EcoIslands project because it has all the necessary building blocks to create the destination and using the Ecological Footprint assists them in putting a pin in the map of where they want and need to go. Let’s hope, like Donkey, that we are not ‘Far Far away’.
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