The ecological footprint represents the area of land and water ecosystems required to produce the resources that the population consumes and assimilate the waste that the population produces, wherever on Earth the land and water are located. This is based on the premise that humans need a productive area that will produce renewable natural resources and absorb their waste. The Cambridge Centre for Environment works with organizations to:
- Enhance their capacity to gather and analyze data on flows of energy and matter to and from defined economies to ascertain the land and water areas required to support these human lifestyles;
- Analyze renewable natural resource utilization trends and determine the major factors contributing to ecological overshoot;
- Assist national governments to ascertain their ecological footprint measures to determine whether they are in an ecological deficit or they have ecological reserves;
- Assist organizations and national governments to consider a range of policy and regulatory mechanisms for reducing the ecological overshoot.
Ecological footprint measures are increasingly being used in a number of ways, including: (i) addressing national, regional, municipal and even individual footprints; (ii) describing the size of the footprint for a particular population or activity; (iii) informing national policy formulation and planning; (iv) implementing and monitoring several of their sustainable development agendas in several country and municipality settings; (v) its use as a research tool to explore the footprint of specific activities such as different modes of transportation or methods of farming; and (vi) providing a useful overview across many specific areas across the globe.