CSU–Pueblo welcomes inventor of economic footprint

The originator of the “ecological footprint” concept will discuss the origin of this method and share his research on sustainable socioeconomic development at Colorado State University-Pueblo next month.

William Rees, a professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and former director of the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) at UBC, will be introduced at the induction ceremony of Psi Chi Honor Society before giving a public presentation at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 in the Life Sciences Auditorium (105). On Friday, April 17, he will conduct informal meetings with students, faculty, and administration and will teach a psychology class at noon on Friday in LS119.

Rees has taught at the University of British Columbia since 1969. His primary interest is in public policy and planning relating to global environmental trends and the ecological conditions for sustainable socioeconomic development. He is the originator of the "ecological footprint" concept and co-developer of the method. He is best known in these fields for the co-development of ecological footprint analysis with his then Ph.D. student Mathis Wackernagel.
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It compares human demand with planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste. This research reveals the fundamental incompatibility between continued material economic growth and ecological security and has helped to reopen debate on human carrying capacity as a consideration in sustainable development.

Rees received his Ph.D. degree in population ecology from the University of Toronto. He founded SCARP’s ‘"Environment and Resource Planning" concentration and from 1994 - 1999 served as director of the School. Rees’ book, Our Ecological Footprint (co-authored with Wackernagel), was published in 1996 and now is available in English, Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, and Spanish.

Much of Rees' work is in the realm of ecological economics and human ecology. He is a founding member and recent past-President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics. He also is a co-investigator in the "Global Integrity Project," which aims to define the ecological and political requirements for biodiversity preservation.

A dynamic speaker, Rees has been invited to lecture on areas of his expertise across Canada and the US, as well as in Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, the former Soviet Union, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the UK.

Rees was awarded the 2007 Trudeau Fellowship Prize, an annual prize awarded by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation for innovative approaches to issues of public policy and commitment to public engagement, and in 2006 was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC). In 2000, The Vancouver Sun recognized him as one of British Columbia’s top “public intellectuals.” In 1997, UBC awarded William Rees a Senior Killam Research Prize in acknowledgment of his research achievements.

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