The four footprints in policy and practice

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On the 11th of February 2014 Friends of the Earth Europe organized a conference ‘The four footprints in policy and practice - How land, water, carbon and material footprints can help create a more resource efficient Europe’. 

 The conference was focused on questions such as

  • How can a company reduce its climate emissions, increase its resource efficiency and identify risks in its supply chain?
  • How can the EU or a government make sure that new policies do not increase land grabbing and deforestation around the world?
  • How can a caterer – or an individual – reduce the land and water required to make lunch?

Pressure on the world’s resources is rapidly increasing, as people’s living standards rise in many poorer countries across the world, while those in richer countries already use large amounts of resources. This is leading to volatile and increasing prices for key resources, and its’ creating negative environmental and social impacts like deforestation and high food prices. To improve the resilience of our economy, to minimize price increases and to reduce our environmental and social impacts, we need to become more resource efficient. The starting point is to measure and manage our resources use, the four footprints – carbon footprint, land footprint, water footprint and material footprint. This means that we can start to understand how much resources are being used and what they are being used for.

This one day event brought together policy-makers, academics, campaigners and experts from business who are already seeing the benefits of using the footprint approach. This event has happened in the lead-up to an expected package of measures on resource efficiency and the circular economy that is due from the European Commission in the first half of this year.

Speakers included:

  • Florence Coulamy, Unilever
  • Ute Collier, UK Committee on Climate Change
  • Davy Vanham, European Commission Joint Research Centre
  • Philip Chamberlain, C&A Europe
  • Ruth Matthews, Water Footprint Network
  • Dr Michael Warhurst, Friends of the Earth
  • Meghan O'Brien, Wuppertal Institute

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