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Mathis Wackernagel
Co-Creator of the Ecological Footprint

Mathis Wackernagel , Ph.D., is co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what--an essential step in creating a one-planet future by measuring human impact on the Earth so we can make more informed choices.  The Ecological Footprint is a data-driven metric that tells us how close we are to the goal of sustainable living. Footprint accounts work like bank statements, documenting whether we are living within our ecological budget or consuming nature’s resources faster than the planet can renew them.  Dr. Wackernagel has worked on sustainability issues for organizations in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia and Australia, and has lectured for community groups, governments and their agencies, NGOs, and academic audiences at more than 100 universities around the world.

Dr. Wackernagel has previously served as the director of the Sustainability Program at Redefining Progress in Oakland, CA, and directed the Centre for Sustainability Studies / Centro de Estudios para la Sustentabilidad in Mexico, which he still advises. He is also an adjunct faculty at SAGE of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   He has authored or contributed to over fifty peer-reviewed papers, numerous articles and reports, and various books on sustainability that focus on the question of embracing limits and developing metrics for sustainability, including Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth, Sharing Nature’s Interest, and WWF International’s Living Planet Report.

After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, he completed his Ph.D. in community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. There, as his doctoral dissertation with Professor William Rees, he created the Ecological Footprint concept.  Mathis’s awards include an honorary doctorate from the University of Berne in 2007, a 2007 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a 2006 WWF Award for Conservation Merit, and the 2005 Herman Daly Award of the US Society for Ecological Economics.