Global Footprint Network
2020 Annual Report

Message from our President & CEO

Like everyone else, we had no idea what was in store for the world when we kicked off the year, just a clear intent to amplify our impact through the new decade. Given all the challenges and tragedies of the year, we are pleased with the resonance we have been able to generate.

COVID-19 has made obvious that “we are in it together.” This means that justice, prosperity, public health, and ecological balance are not separate issues. They all point to the reality that we are one biology on our shared planet. And though we see these issues as inextricably intertwined, they are not evenly distributed, the importance of which was underscored by global protests for racial justice long overdue.

The date of Earth Overshoot Day 2020 was pushed back 24 days compared to the year prior due to pandemic-induced lockdown measures around the world. However, the later date was no victory. It came at a significant cost of human pain and suffering. That is not what sustainability is about. Instead, we ask: what if we design the shift we want in order to move towards one-planet prosperity, rather than letting disaster dictate the terms? More positively, it reminds us of what is possible when humanity acts together to reach a common goal.

Given the mismatch between where we need to go and where we are, exacerbated by the global pandemic, Ecological Footprint accounting remains quintessential. Without reversing our loss of resource security, many people’s lives could get harmed. For that we need effective management and decisions tools like the Footprint. And if we get the relationship with our planet right, not only can economies succeed, but we can get to a just world where all thrive within the means of our one-planet.

Making the Footprint useful and practical led 2020 to a number of highlights, including:

We are tremendously grateful to the generous donors who make our work possible. Thank you for helping us grow our impact and contribute to the needed sustainability transformation.

Warm wishes,

Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D.        Laurel Hanscom
President & Co-Founder             Chief Executive Officer


What happens when an infinite-growth economy runs into a finite planet?


Water shortages, overgrazing, desertification, and species extinction.


Deforestation, reduced cropland productivity and fishery collapse.


Each of these crises, is a symptom of a single, over-riding issue.


Humanity is simply demanding more
than the Earth can provide.


Though resource and population trends have tremendous inertia,
we believe they can be reversed.


Global Footprint Network has the tools to help individuals, cities, and countries thrive in a resource-constrained world.

OUR MISSION is to help end ecological overshoot by making ecological limits central to decision-making.

OUR VISION is that all can thrive within the means of our one planet.

Founded in 2003, we began our work with governments and organizations across the globe.
Our accomplishments from 2020 include:


Global Footprint Network worked with the Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Slovenia Ministry for Environment and Spatial Planning to provide the first regional Ecological Footprint and biocapacity results for twelve statistical regions in Slovenia. The project was completed to support the environmental objectives of Slovenia’s Sustainable Development Strategy.


In Portugal, 12 more cities joined the Footprinting project, now with 20 municipalities incorporating the Ecological Footprint in their development strategy, including improved communication with all stakeholders through custom Footprint Calculators.


Although 2020 wasn’t a great year for travel, ecotourism got a boost thanks to a free online course designed to teach the participatory process of creating ecotourism experiences in and around Mediterranean Protected Areas. The course was developed by Global Footprint Network, IUCN Med, and the MEET Network, with support from MAVA Foundation.

2020 was an exceptional year for building momentum to #MoveTheDate.

The Footprint Calculator was used 4.3 million times in 2020.

Our mobile-friendly calculator (available in eight languages) continues to be a widely-used and efficient tool to help individuals measure their Ecological Footprint and determine their personal Earth Overshoot Day. In 2020, we added new features which encourage users to dive even deeper into Footprint data and share existing solutions with the #MoveTheDate Solutions map community.

Calculator Testimonials

"The Footprint Calculator is a great way to help students learn about sustainability. It allows them to interact with Ecological Footprint data in a user friendly and engaging way. They begin to understand their own resource use and translate that to what is happening on a national and global level."

ALICE FREUND, Science Teacher, United States

"A year ago, my personal overshoot day was April 14 and now it’s August 22! I think it’s important to get my personal overshoot day down to needing the resources of only 1 Earth (or, ideally, less than 1) and am so excited by the strides I've made over just one year. I truly believe that, no matter where you live, it is possible for everyone to live happy and healthy lives without using up more resources than our planet can renew."

SHAUNA KOSORIS, Writer and Narrative Designer, Canada

Earth Overshoot Day is the date when we use more from nature than our planet can regenerate in the entire year. In 2020, it was pushed back to August 22 due to pandemic-induced lockdown measures around the world.

Despite the media narrative in 2020 being dominated by the pandemic and tumultuous US elections, the Earth Overshoot Day campaign was another peak in coverage, receiving more than 4 billion media impressions. Guided by two of the five key areas of sustainability, we created provocative new content and visuals for this year’s campaign, exploring the fossil fuel intensity of food, and asking the question, “Is it helpful to discuss population?”

Earth Overshoot Day
By the Numbers

media impressions from 5,400 websites
solutions posted on the #MoveTheDate Solutions map
countries covered Overshoot Day
UN and EU entities promoted Earth Overshoot Day.

1.6 planets are needed to support humanity's demand on Earth's ecosystems.

Earth Overshoot Day
In the News

The Footprint gained recognition in leading economics reports, and we reached more data lovers with our open data platform than ever before.

For the first time since the independent entity Footprint Data Foundation (FoDaFo) was established, the Ecological Footprint Initiative at York University in Toronto led the annual production of the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. The Footprint gained further recognition as a valuable sustainability metric in multiple mainstream economics reports, including the UNDP’s Human Development Report, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, and the Dasgupta Review.

activists, academics, and analysts visited the Footprint Explorer open data platform

Data User Testimonials

"I think that every human being has to take it [Ecological Footprint data] very seriously because we don't have the time...I think the new generation has to use the tools that science provides to make it a better world, to improve the Footprint, to improve the statistics, but also the quality of life."

ROSALIA ARTEAGA, Former President and Vice President of Ecuador, Ex-Secretary of OTCA, President of FIDAL, Ecuador

"I’ve always wondered about consumption relative to the Earth’s capacity. Global Footprint Network has excellent data and fantastic graphics and maps that summarize the impact of lifestyle choices in various countries."

RON THOMPSON, Writer and Economist, Canada

We made great strides in promoting sustainability education in universities with the release of the EUSTEPs teaching module.

The EUSTEPs (Enhancing Universities’ Sustainability TEaching and Practices) project successfully met all its 2020 goals, including completing the development of a new teaching module and making it available online for faculty. The project is designed to educate European university students and the wider academic community on the complexity of sustainability and its interdisciplinary nature in an engaging and captivating manner.

We couldn’t do our work without our generous supporters and dedicated team.

Thank you for your support!

Our Supporters

Our Team

Peter Seidel is an architect, teacher, author, environmentalist, and loyal Global Footprint Network friend and supporter. He shares why he’s been supporting our work for many years.



Our family of websites — is Global Footprint Network’s main site and offers all the background on the Ecological Footprint and its applications — provides all key results for the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts on an open data platform — allows individuals to estimate their own Footprint and their personal Overshoot Date.  Is the entry point to the #MoveTheDate map — hosts Earth Overshoot Day and features solutions to #MoveTheDate — highlights the relevance of Ecological Footprint and re­lated results for the finance industry — applies the Ecological Footprint logic to Switzerland’s competitiveness and — provide information about the Ecologi­cal Footprint in English and Chinese – Footprint Data Foundation is the newly established, independent organization to host the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. The intent is also to have this data organization be embraced by an alliance of international institutions, as explained at