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Theme B: Ecological Footprint 2

- where do I stand and what can I do for a fair share for all?

Workshop 2 Ecological Footprint 2 - Fair share of the world


Understand our personal footprint & how to improve it in our daily routines.

Aims & Objectives

-          Background on Ecological Footprint
(see Section Introduction to Ecological Dimension above)

-          Work on ideas to reduce our personal footprint

-          Get creative on connecting happiness and smaller footprint


Curiosity, Justice, Motivation, Collaboration


Workshop (inputs, interactive exercise, activities)

Dimension / SDG-relation

SDG: 1,2,3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 16



30’ - 45’

Intro: Ecological footprint -  fair share of the world

30’ - 45’

Ecological Footprint

30’ -45’

Connecting Happiness & small footprint

15’ - 30’

Reflection & Feedback:

Intro:  Ecological Footprint - Fair Share of the world


Facilitator Intro text:  Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.7 Planet Earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and eight months to regenerate what we are using in a year. We are using more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequestrate.  -> NOT ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABLE or better said NOT FUTURE-PROOF!  Currently it is an unfair situation, with about ¼ of the population (the consumer class) using ¾ of the global ressources. Fair would be that ¼ of the population uses just ¼ of the global ressources (hint: remember the outcome of the Journey to Ganymede). And a fair distribution of the ressources (no matter where you live on spaceship earth) would be the basis for freedom. (reflect, if needed, again on the difference on: 

a) fair distribution here & now  

b) what remains for future generations; these are two different challenges we need to handle!)


So, there is a need first to figure out what the fair share for all of us is. With the Footprint concept we know how much productive area is available on spaceship earth. (~¼ of earth surface is productive = ~12 bn hectare; excluding deserts, glaciers, deep seas. Thus simplifying the land on which we humans can harvest something). Dividing that area by all the humans would lead to a fair share of 1,6 gha. This means every person on spaceship earth gets an area of about 2 soccer fields and these soccer fields have an average global productivity (so not what the productivity of a country is, but the planet's average productivity to provide for all humans).  Knowing the fair share, we need to measure our consumption and figure out HOW to live a good life on the fair share


Step 1 - Group Discussion:  How to live a good life on the fair share

●                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Your visions -  refer to lessons learned of “Ganymede” & “Live on fair share” discussion

●                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What would that mean on an: individual level, for politicians, for companies, for NGOs etc. E.g. the need for regulations that make it easier for individuals to fulfil the needs of the planet, clear regulations for producing products with the smallest possible Footprint, …

●                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What would you need to know to fulfil your part of that vision? e.g. Footprint of products (not just price), a limited budget per year and

Step 2 - Individual (or group) work: Create a Poster or Presentation of your visions and plans to create a world where we share fairly.

Participants share their visions and plans on the YINT Forum  in a format of their choice (video, audio, drawings, writings, poems etc.)


Facilitator and participants review and comment on vision and plans


Facilitator role:  Explain why we are NOT FUTURE-PROOF and why it would be important to orient ourselves to living on the fair share.   Guide through the process and instruct the discussion about the “NEW Visions”. e.g. There are no migrants on spaceship earth, we think in targets for the planet not “just” by country!

Participant role: Ask questions or work through the homepage of the Footprint Network eventually including the personal footprint calculator . Present  visions in a creative way (e.g. posters, videos, drawings, stories, etc.).

TIP: It might be important to mention that ‘the fair share’ for a lot of people on the planet would mean to have MORE than they have now. And for some people (the global consumer class) to reduce the consumption level. Therefore very likely a huge promise to migrants that at the moment live on less than the fair share... AND that Europeans are not a good role model for a sustainable lifestyle (on average use 5 gha! - 1,6 gha as they are supposed to): Personal Footprint). We all need a better plan for a sustainable & peaceful way of life on spaceship earth

REFERENCE:  More information on Ecological Footprint:

Activity: The Ecological Footprint


Mini Lecture: What is Ecological Footprint:  How can we humans prevent ourselves from over-exploiting the natural supplies (e.g. wood, soil) on Spaceship Earth? How can we realise that we have already exceeded the ecological limits (e.g. by calculating our Personal Footprint and comparing it to the fair share)? Stepping over these limits happens quietly and unobtrusively. There is no big BOOM, like driving against a wall.

That's where the Ecological Footprint helps us! The Ecological Footprint shows us when we consume too much of our natural reserves. This can be done on an individual basis as a Personal Footprint vs. fair share or, on a global level: total Ecological Footprint vs. total Biocapacity of the planet.  The Ecological Footprint does an accounting for nature!
“Everything” we need to live comes from nature and therefore we need area; e.g. the cotton for our clothes, our food, materials for our furniture and other utensils, roads and tracks that help us get around, or our waste that needs to be reused, recycled or deposited. The Ecological Footprint represents the sum of productive natural areas consumed in one year, regardless of where in the world these areas were claimed.

Which areas do we need?

How much area is available?

Approximately ¼ of earth surface is productive = Approximately 12 bn hectare. Footprint Accounting Calculation of the bioproductive area on Earth: productive surfaces that are available on Earth for us to use minus the area we actually use for our daily needs (e.g. farmland for food, forest land for paper). The result is the Ecological Footprint of mankind. The Global Footprint Network calculated that only 1/4 of the world's surface is biologically productive: around 12 billion hectares. When we divide this area by the number of people living on Earth, we get the FAIR SHARE of 1.6 global hectares (gha) for each Earth citizen. An average European consumes approx. 3 times more than the fair share: 5 global hectares per year!


Step 1:  Check your Country eco footprint :

Step 2:  Check your personal Footprint:

Here you find the conclusion for the average European lifestyle:  A reduction of the Personal Footprint  is often possible by taking small but conscious decisions in everyday life. By adhering to the following five points for Europeans a big step towards a sustainable lifestyle can be made:

Step 3:  Group Discussions:

●        What could be done to reduce the country's eco footprint?

●        What could be done to reduce my / our personal eco footprint?

●        Discuss dilemmas, build visions & identify concrete solutions referencing  the EARTH model  It is never too little, that is enough. (Seneca)

Enjoy life - With a smaller Footprint: more friends, family, time, fun,...

Act together - To create a sustainable world that supports living on a small Footprint!

Reduce meat & animal products!  Prefer seasonal & local plant based organic products

Travel by train, bike and bus. Don´t fly! Ride cars less, never alone, with green electricity!

Home green home!  With green energy, well insulated, smaller, access to public transport


Take the 5 most important things (link: from EARTH model discussions above) in mind and consider: Changing your own lifestyle does not mean forgoing everything that is important to you. Rather, it is about conscious actions in everyday life and contentment.

Task:  When you think about your own consumer behaviour, what can you/ are you willing to do? Present your thoughts in an artful way of your choice! (group or individual work) can include dilemmas, visions & solutions.


What the facilitator can do:

●       Provide the input, take questions and promote a discussion about the input.

●        Guide the group to  Check your country(s)  & personal Footprint and collect the results & discussion in the big group.

●        Based on some knowledge about things with improvement potential, explain and moderate the group work “What can I do?”

●        Ask questions like:  Is there a wish for politics that would help you to implement your thoughts in your daily routine?

●        If some important examples are missing: “Have you thought about/discussed ………..?

●        What is the time perspective: Starting today, tomorrow, next week or in a year?

What PARTICIPANTS will do:

●        Ask questions or work through the homepage of the Footprint Network eventually including the personal footprint calculator .

●        Present in a creative way their examples for “What can I do?” by an agreed upon date.

●        Post their findings and ideas on the YINT Forum in a format of their choice (e.g. video, audio, drawings, writings, poems, etc.) and to be reviewed by facilitator and other

TIPS: Need to consider nutrition, housing, mobility, consumption, recycling as these cover around 80% of the total footprint of European lifestyle.  So without tackling these things, we cannot live on our fair share. It is clear that not all group members have even the possibility to go on a flight, a car, or a well-insulated own house. So be positive and praise “small things” too. But it is still crucial to understand by the group, what the way of living could look like to fulfil the golden rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” - keeping the limited resources in mind. Because sharing the world's resources fairly is a prerequisite of a peaceful world!

REFERENCE:  Background information on the Ecological Footprint: /classroom-activities/

Note: It is possible to calculate the Ecological Footprint at different levels: for the entire world population, for countries, regions, products and also for people. For the latter, easy-to-use, personal Footprint calculators were developed.

Areas to consider on how to reduce footprint:


Housing & Mobility


Conscious of calories

Reduce food waste

Buy "organic" food 

Seasonal & regionally produced food

Adopt low meat diet

Avoid packaging

Cook together

Avoid food transported by plane

Save energy & water

Open window for ventilation

No stand-by for electronic devices

Efficient lighting technology 

Use public transport, bus,bikes

Share things

Switch to renewable energy supply if possible

Install renewable energy in your home if possible

Insulate your home if possible

Prefer quality over quantity

Less paper & recycle & use recycled products

Less clothing/durable clothing

Durable products & modest electronic equipment

Conscious avoidance of waste

Recycle waste

Extend  product lifetime (e.g. repair, use second hand)

Avoid where feasible

Activity: Connecting happiness and small  


By analysing the Footprints and Happiness of people in Austria 4 groups occurred:

1)       High Footprint and unhappy -> “crazy”

2)       Small Footprint and unhappy -> “misery”

3)       High Footprint and happy -> “luxury”

4)       Small Footprint and happy -> “on the right path”

To be future proof means that we find a good living with the fair share of the world.


Step 1 -  Find examples with almost no footprint & present it in an artful way, or just do it together at this very moment!  Examples could be: massage, walking barefoot, yoga, enjoying nature, cuddling, meditating, spending time with someone, talking to each other, sitting in the sun, bathing in the river, climbing trees, dancing, rejoicing, drinking tap water, gathering wild herbs, thinking, sleeping, walking, singing and making music, being happy, loving, dreaming about the Good Life for all

Step 2 - Create a group visual and present to big group


Group reflection on how to live a ‘small footprint & happy’ life


What the facilitator will do:

●        Introduce workshop theme

●        Give time and space for participants to get creative.

●        Moderate the presentations.

What PARTICIPANTS will do:

●        Get creative and present their ideas in an artful way.

●        Try to connect their thoughts with immediate action and experience new things in (hopefully) an amusing way.

●        Post their findings and ideas on the YINT Forum in a format of their choice (e.g. video, audio, drawings, writings, poems, etc.) and to be reviewed by facilitator and other participants by an agreed upon date.

TIP: The idea is to have a bunch of different actions -> so not one example but many to try; if the groups go for just one example maybe remind them of “more examples”, but if it fits to your timetable one example for each group is fine too!



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