1.0 developed in 2002 by Hoekstra and Hung

1.0       INTRODUCTION:

1.1
      BACKGROUND:

Human
actions can consume natural resources and if the application of environmental
sustainability methods is left out, it will jeopardize the existence of Natural
Resources in the future. This write up focused on the Footprint analysis as
vital tool used for the assessment of sustainability of the environment and its
constituent. The objective of this write up is therefore to substantiate the
definition and meaning of footprint, identify the types of footprint analysis
and its scope of application and also to carry out an X-ray on the challenges
in using the Footprint Analysis coupled with its potentials. Its potentials
among others include that it is useful in identifying risks that affect
environmental sustainability while the main challenge is that this method still
remains insufficient to measure sustainability. Since its application is still
at its nascent stage, it is therefore recommended that this method should still
be a subject of further research to cover up for its inadequacy.

Environmental
sustainability has cropped up as an important matter amidst National
Authorities, planners, researchers, and communities in general. A lot of work
and resources have been channelled into environmental studies together with the
evaluation of so many harmful impacts.

Footprints
have been formulated over the years as tools used for the evaluation of
sustainability of the environment and its constituent. The Ecological footprint
(EF) was developed in 1992 by Rees (Rees, 1992), and the water footprint (WF) was developed in 2002 by Hoekstra
and Hung (Hoekstra and Hung, 2002). Carbon footprint (CF) happens to have
been initiated and arise from the global warming potential. Footprints are not
so common presently and it has only been developed of late. A article review
shows that the major categories of footprints developed to date are carbon,
ecological, and water footprints, building to be called the footprint family (Galli et al., 2011, 2012).
Many other unpopular footprints are available, they are nitrogen, social, and
economic footprints. So many explanations are in existence for some footprints
but the definitions of some footprints (e.g., economic footprints) are not
precise.

 

2.         What is Footprint?

A
footprint is a significant analysis illustrating the allocation of natural
resources by humans (Hoekstra, 2008). A footprint explains in totality how human actions can
dictate numerous types of problems and consequence on Environmental sustainability
in the World at large (UNEP/SETAC, 2009). Sustainability Development (SD)
encompasses environmental protection (ecology), economic prosperity, and the
social dimension (OECD, 2004 and 2008).
Therefore, footprint can be categorised in terms of the environmental, social,
and economic dimensions of the subject matter. Footprints are usually
considered as being quantified in units of area but data signified in area
units show high difference and many obtainable flaws as to the results. The
Changing of some footprints to area units can prove to be an issue, especially for
methods that are not generally area-based, such as a chemical procedure (De Benedetto and Klemes, 2009). The two types of Ecological
footprint are Sustainable Process Index (SPI) and the Sustainable Environmental
Performance Indicator (SEPI). Both are always defined in units of area, but footprints
other than these two (SPI & SEPI), are not usually defined (only) in area
units. Majority of footprints also have restricted information opening and not
too clear information. Carrying out the footprint analysis can be expensive in
respect to information and assets. It could also be time consuming. Aside the
key types of footprints, there are also inadequacy as regards applications for
other footprints.  Therefore, there are
potentials and constraints of footprint analysis as a method for measuring
sustainability though it cannot be appropriately be applicable yet at this
nascent stage of their growth.

 

3.         Potentials and Constraints of footprint
Analysis as a method for measuring Sustainability.

It is difficult formulate a
postulate or technique to make prove and give a precise answer to the question
of maybe humanity has actually surpassed the Earth’s carrying capacity.

Potentials of ecological footprint includes being appealing and spontaneous (Schaefer et al., 2006), it is also a very valuable tool to help determine
risks that pertains to environmental sustainability, Its capability to compress
the size of human pressure on various part of bioproductivity1 into
one single number is also a great potential, it also avails the opportunity to
pass on  results to a broader audience (Wiedmann.& Barrett, 2010) while its constraints
include Ecological
Footprint estimation process is insufficient, putting into use the idea of
biological carrying capacity to human society is an error, in the estimation
process of ecological footprint, taking into stock  changes in land usage makes the postulation
that uses are interchangeable but this is not always achievable, another
constraints is that its discussion about carrying capacity is futile (sos2006.jp, 2017).

 

4.         Levels of Footprint analysis: from
individual to National.

Levels
of footprint analysis begin from Individuals to understand their impact on the
planet and then goes up to Local Leaders to Optimize Projects investments and
to Countries to Improve Sustainability and well-being.

 

5.         Scope of Application of Ecological
Footprint (EF) with case study and example:

            The EF has come to be the global
basic tool for analysing humanity’s demands on nature (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996) and it is broadly applied as an indicator
for measuring environmental sustainability. The EF is defined as a assessment
of the human demand for land and water areas, and examine in contrast the human
utilization of resources and consumption of waste with the Earth’s ecological
capacity to regenerate (GFN, 2010).
The EF provides an aggregated assessment of multiple anthropogenic pressures (Galli
et al., 2012).The EF is usually measured in global area units
as the amount of bio-productive space (Hoekstra,
2008), and in global area units per person (Ewing et al., 2010). Each global hectare represents the same
fraction of the Earth’s total bio-productivity and is defined as 1 ha of
land or water normalized to the world-averaged productivity from all of the
biologically-productive land and water, within a given year. The EF can be
applied over scales ranging from single products to households, cities,
regions, and countries or to humanity as a whole; however it is most effective,
meaningful and robust at aggregate levels (Wackernagel et al., 2006; Galli et al.,
2012).

 

5.1       Case
study in Italy: Application of Ecological Footprint Analysis (EFA) on nectarine
production:

The aim of this study was to measure the
environmental stress of each level of nectarine production in Cuneo province, Northern
Italy, managed according to the Italian Integrated Fruit Production (IFP)
protocol. The study took into consideration the impact of the one-year cultural
practices versus the whole orchard lifetime. It also cross checked the method
of applying Ecological Footprint Analysis to fruit production. In the research,
a one-year field operation was investigated including also a lifetime of the
orchard was studied. The arithmetic was borne out for six different orchard levels:
(L1) nursery propagation of the young plants; (L2) orchard establishment, (L3)
young trees producing low yields, (L4) mature trees at full production, (L5)
declining trees with low yields, and finally (L6) orchard removal. The
environmental costs at each level; are presented and compared to each other on
the basis of the respective footprint value gotten by total gha of that stage
divided by the total tonnage of nectarines produced from the orchard across all
years. Results emphasised the benefit of adoption of EFA to the entire
lifecycle of orchard manufactured. L4 was responsible for the many of costs at
65% followed by L2, L3 and L5 at or close to 10% at the same time; the costs of
L1 and L6 were transferable. Meanwhile, it is the Level of L4 production used
which can have the greatest effects on EFA standard

6.         Scope
of Application of Carbon Footprint (CF) with case study and example:

The Carbon Footprint
(CF)2 has become one of the most vital environmental protection
indicators (Wiedmann and Minx, 2008; Lam
et al., 2010; Galli et al., 2012). CF usually denotes the bulk  of 
Carbon IV Oxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), emitted over
the full life cycle of a process or  manufactured
product (UK POST, 2006; BSI, 2008). The CF is quantified using such indicators
as the Global Warming Potential (GWP) (EC, 2007), which
represents the quantities of GHGs that contribute to global warming and climate
change. CF includes the activities of individuals,
populations, governments, companies, organizations, processes, industrial
sectors, etc. (Galli
et al., 2012).

6.1       Case
study of milk production in New Zealand and Sweden – How does co-product
handling affect the carbon footprint of milk?

This study investigates various procedures or techniques of
managing co-products in life cycle assessment (LCA) or carbon footprint (CF)
studies and to show the risk of giving misleading information when different CF
results for milk are compared without a harmonised and uniform method of
handling co-products. In the investigation, the greenhouse gases (GHG)
associated with the production of 1 kg of energy-corrected milk (ECM) at
farm gate in New Zealand and Sweden is investigated considering co-product
handling. System expansion is the most preferred choice of co-product handling
method in reference to ISO regulations that is applicable to LCA of milk. The
conceptual framework for LCA is used but only focusing on the GHG emissions:
carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
study includes extraction of raw materials for feed production and other inputs
to the milk system, and ends at the farm gate, which usually represents the
main part of total GHG emissions for production of milk and dairy products
(Gerber et al. 2010; Sevenster and de Jong 2008; Hospido 2005; Berlin 2002; Högaas Eide 2002). Contribution to global warming is
calculated using the global warming potential (GWP) for a 100-year time horizon
according to IPCC (2007). Result shows that there is a large
variation in the calculated carbon footprint of milk depending on how emissions
are divided between co-products. With all these methods Sweden (SE) milk has a
higher CF than New Zealand (NZ) milk. However, applying economic allocation
results in 9% higher CF for SE than NZ, while for mass allocation (or when all
emissions are allocated to the milk), it is 16% higher.

7.         CONCLUSION:  From the above write up, it can be deduced
that measuring sustainability through the footprint analysis has its merit and
demerits. Merits includes that footprint explains in totality how human actions
can dictate numerous types of problems and consequence on Environmental
sustainability in the World at large while its demerit is that the Ecological
Footprint estimation process is insufficient to adequately
measure sustainability. Carbon footprinting continues to grow as a tool for
measuring and reducing carbon emissions. The Ecological Footprint can be applied over
scales ranging from single products to households, cities, regions, and
countries or to humanity as a whole; however it is most effective, meaningful
and robust at aggregate levels.

8.         FOOTNOTES:

1.     
BIOPRODUCTIVITY:
is an organized occurrence which entails the ability at which
biological processes function at numerous organization scales ranging from
molecular/cellular to the whole organism and population at large.

CARBON FOOTPRINT (CF): is a term used to explain
the sum of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a development or a product system
to show their input to

Author: