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The National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2021

Over 70% of the world population lives in countries with an ecological deficit


In 2021, the international research organization Global Footprint Network updated The National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts providing data from 1961 to 2017 for more than 200 countries, territories and regions. Due to the fact that 2017 is the most recent year with complete datasets for most countries from the United Nations and the International Energy Agency, the 2021 edition does not reflect the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

NFA methodology is traditionally based on the comparison of two indicators: ecological footprint and biocapacity. The first demonstrates human demand for the goods and services of nature, while the second demonstrates nature's ability to meet this demand. These indicators are measured in global hectares and provide information about a country's ecological footprint. If a country's ecological footprint is less than its biocapacity, it has an ecological reserve, and correspondingly if the opposite is true, it has an ecological deficit.

According to the report, in 2017, over 70% of people around the world lived in countries with natural resource deficits. Singapore has the world’s highest biocapacity deficit – at 10,300%. The country with the next biggest biocapacity deficit is Bermuda with 5,610%, followed by Reunion (2,580%), Israel (2,450%), and Barbados (2, 130%). Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon are also in the list of the world’s largest biocapacity deficits. In Europe, the top 5 countries with scarce natural resources are Luxembourg, Malta, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy.

If we take the total ecological footprint in global hectares, on the top mainly countries which are large by area are listed – China (5,350,000,000), the USA (2,610,000,000), India (1,600,000,000), Russian Federation (788,000,000), Japan (593,000,000) and Brazil (588,000,000). The top most “harmful” countries in the EU are Germany (386,000,000), France (299,000,000), Italy (262,000,000) and Spain (187,000,000).

Countries which are large by area have not only the biggest footprint, but also the most biocapacity – Brazil (1,800,000,000), China (1,330,000,000), the USA (1,120,000,000), Russian Federation (1,000,000,000), India (577,000,000), and Canada (549,000,000). Sorting countries by the amount of the natural resources per capita, the NFAs reveal that in the top are three neighboring small area countries on the north-east coast of South America – French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana.

In addition, the Network traditionally calculates what is known as Earth Overshoot Day, marking the date on which humanity has used up all the planet's natural resources that it can regenerate in a year. This year, Earth Overshoot Day fell on 29 July, the earliest date in human history. By comparison, in 2020, Earth Overflow Day fell on 22 August, down 9.3% from the same period in 2019, a result of coronavirus-induced restrictions around the world. On 29 July, Global Footprint Network and the Scottish Environment Agency, launched the initiative “100 Days of Possibility” featuring proven solutions to strike a balance between humanity's ecological footprint and the biological resources that the planet's natural ecosystems can sustainably regenerate.