Dr. Mathis Wackernagel is the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint and President of the Global Footprint Network. After his mechanical engineering degree from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, he completed a Ph.D. in community and regional planning with Professor William Rees at the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral dissertation developed the Ecological Footprint concept in the early 1990s. Since 1997, he has advanced the Ecological Footprint for countries through the National Footprint Accounts which continue to be the world’s only comprehensive metric able to compare human demand on nature to what the planet can renew. They inform about countries’ exposure to core sustainability challenges, including climate change and resource constraints. The Global Footprint Network reaches over 3 billion media impressions ever year with its Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the date when humanity has used more from nature than the Earth can renew in the entire year. In 2018, this date fell on August 1st.
Quick Q&A with Dr. Mathis Wackernagel about the World Sustainability Award
How did this award benefit you?
By promoting our cause, this award has helped to increase visibility and interest. It has demonstrated the legitimacy of our operation.
What did this award help you accomplish?
The fact that we have been recognised by various influential bodies, including yours, has led to more invitations, higher-profile projects, and more public engagements. We are working on a topic many feel weary about, so receiving positive recognition lowers the anxiety level of potential collaborators and partners. This is what we particularly appreciate about the award.
Would you recommend it to future researchers in sustainability? Why or why not?
Yes, I would highly recommend it. It highlights that sustainability is truly an advantage for cities, companies, and countries.