Cities need to solve the following problem:

The problem:

We have climate & extinction emergencies because environmental & social costs have been left off the balance sheet. If everyone in the world lived the way we do in the UK for example we would need three beautiful planet Earths to support us. Already 1.6 Earths are needed to support how we live.

The solution:

We propose a comprehensive ‘one planet’ framework that will cause system change over time to reduce the impact of our way of life to the level that the planet can provide, and reintroduce more nature into our environment. It means more local production and supply, an end to waste, more jobs, greater prosperity and improved health. There is everything to gain.

Any public or private body can use the framework to optimise their spending decisions in order to achieve the goal of making the region reduce its ecological and carbon footprint to a measurably sustainable level. The time period is defined. The tools used heighten awareness of the impacts of different versions of budget spends.

Graph showing how the carbon footprint can contract over time from 2019-3020 and reduce resource dependence

Graph showing how the carbon footprint can contract over time from 2019-3020 and reduce resource dependence.

The path towards a ‘One Planet’ region

  1. Obtain stakeholder buy-in and awareness-raising through exploring which standards, data sources and goals to use.
  2. Determine the baseline – the current state of biocapacity and resource use.
  3. Set targets to ratchet down consumption and boost biocapacity for each sector over realistic timescales (e.g. 5-year intervals up to 2040).
  4. Set in place easy ways to measure them.
  5. Keep checking and refining.

The 5 basic ‘One Planet’ requirements

  1. An aim to reduce the ecological footprint to ‘one planet’ by (say, 2040) would become an underlying principle of all planning and policy as a verifiable regenerative strategy.
  2. System change, with the same set of social and environmental criteria being used to assess all planning and infrastructure/supply chain decisions (e.g. a reduction of ecological footprint and increase in biocapacity, step-changing incrementally over time, similar to the planning criteria currently applied to One Planet Developments in Wales).
  3. The criteria are informed by indicators including carbon and ecological footprint analysis, using a simple tool that compares different project designs for their social, ecological and economic costs and benefits.
  4. Official policy would support all areas and sectors to become more productive and biodiverse – regenerative. E.g. supporting more food growing & active travel.
  5. Reduction of the impact of production and consumption by a shift to a closed loop, more local procurement levers, believing that meeting basic needs is sufficient for all.

How spending bodies would proceed

Every project initiated by spending bodies would be evaluated relative to the overall goal as follows:

  • Where does the region want to be resource-wise in 2030 and 2050 to position itself for success?
  • What Ecological Footprint reduction does this imply? (relative to the baseline survey)
  • What is the expected financial budget for projects over the time period (e.g. to 2030 or 2050)?
  • By dividing the reduction by the expected budget, one gets a minimal performance standard for all projects – a benchmark.
  • Every option that does not beat this benchmark becomes a liability and should be avoided. Favour the best performing projects and learn from them.

This implies 2 questions about all spending

To make sure ALL of an administration’s investments are effective in helping to achieve the defined objective they would need to pass two evaluations:

  1. Is the investment producing a positive financial return (ROI)? If not, the project will not be replicable. The higher the ROI the faster it can be scaled.
  2. Is the investment advancing resource security sufficiently rapidly? If not, city will not be prepared for the future we anticipate. (Resource security is defined by biocapacity, population, resource (including carbon) flows).

Tools to help: 1. Ecological Footprint accounting

Illustration of the components of an ecological footprint.

Illustration of the components of an ecological footprint.

  • Provides a biological view & joins all the human pressures – water, climate, biodiversity, food, energy, etc. This allows us to solve them all together.
  • Ecological Footprint results are understandable by ordinary people (unlike carbon).
  • Makes the economic self-interest clear and obvious. It emphasises resource security.
  • It allows policy analysts to identify which options reduce the resource dependence of an economy and by how much.
  • Sustainable investments that satisfy investors need to meet both the resource and the fiscal criteria.

To achieve this use: 2. The Net Present Value+ tool

Produced by The One Planet Centre in partnership with the Global Footprint Network.