Population, Ecological Footprint, and the Sustainable Development Goals

| October 22, 2021 | Leave a Comment

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Media Type: Article - Foundational

Publication Info: The Official Journal of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

Date of Publication: July 3

Year of Publication: 2021

Publication City: Cham, Switzerland

Publisher: Springer Nature

Author(s): Partha Dasgupta, Aisha Dasgupta, Scott Barrett

Journal: Environmental and Resource Economics (forthcoming)

Categories: , , , , , , ,


The Anthropocene can be read as being the era when the demand humanity makes on  the biosphere’s goods and services – humanity’s ‘ecological footprint’ – vastly exceeds its  ability to supply it on a sustainable basis. Because the ‘ecological’ gap is met by a  diminution of the biosphere, the inequality is increasing.

We deploy estimates of the  ecological gap, global GDP and its growth rates in recent years, and the rate at which  natural capital has declined, to study three questions: (i) At what rate must efficiency at  which Nature’s services are converted into GDP rise if the UN’s Sustainable  Development Goals for year 2030 are to be sustainable; (ii) What would a sustainable  figure for world population be if global living standard is to be maintained at an  acceptably high level? (iii) What living standard could we aspire to if world population  was to attain the UN’s near lower-end projection for 2100 of 9 billion? While we take a  global perspective, the reasoning we deploy may also be applied on a smaller scale. The  base year we adopt for our computations is the pre-pandemic 2019. 

Key Words: biosphere, ecological footprint, sustainable development goals, impact  inequality, natural regeneration rate, population

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