August 2nd, Earth Overshoot Day: a date to raise awareness on the planet’s limited resources

Global Footprint Network is an international non-profit organization which seeks to help ending ecological overshot by making ecological limits central to decision-making. This organization commemorates Earth Overshoot Day one more year this 2023 raising awareness on the limited resources of the planet Earth.

Humanity needs several different resources every year to thrive, especially the more than 80% of population that live in countries that demand more from nature than the ecosystems can regenerate. This calculation is achieved through the Ecological Footprint, a tool which measures ecological impact of countries, businesses and general population. It includes carbon emissions, consumption of food, timber, fibre, and use of land for cities.

Global Footprint Network calculates the Footprint of more than 200 countries and regions since 1961 to the present, and each year a date is announced aligning the available resources naturally renewable by Earth’s capacity and their demand and use. As the demand is higher and the resources are limited, this date represents the calculation of the overshoot of Earth’s capacity: a moment in every year when humanity is already over-using the planet’s resources.

This date keeps occurring sooner and sooner and on 2023, the Earth Overshoot Day is 2nd of August. “We are entering a storm of climate change and biological resources constraints”, claims the organization. This is due to the misuse of these supplies leading to their progressive diminish. This year’s date has been delayed 5 days comparing to 2022, but this is not exactly good news, since the reason for this delay is an improvement in the integrated datasets for the calculations. The real date has been moved only one day since 2022, and there are many challenges ahead to keep moving it.

The reality is that for the last 5 years the trend has flattened, even though it is difficult to know if this is due to the economic slow-down or the effort to decarbonise the economy. The conclusion, anyway, is the same: the overshoot reduction is too slow, and humanity needs to put a common effort to achieve UN’s and IPCC goals.

The Power of Possibility

Global Footprint Network commemorates Earth Overshoot Day in 2023 with realism, but also reminding general population, governments, and businesses that there are solutions for the overshoot. This year’s motto is the Power of Possibility, a slogan which encourages individual ecological actions from general population for large scale positive effects but accompanied by actions from decision-makers and businesses. “The earlier companies, cities, and countries plan ahead and prepare themselves for the predictable future, the better their chance of thriving”, says the organization.

The goal is to #MoveTheDate of the Earth Overshoot Day and GFN proposes several ways to achieve it from different fields and sectors categorised into 5 groups: planet, cities, energy, food, and population. For each solution, there is a case study available of companies or communities who have successfully implemented it; all stories are displayed here. Circular fashion, food waste prevention, decarbonization, smart cities and homes, fostering more plant-based menus, education, renewable energy and so many others are there for inspiration of possible solutions to contribute to move the date and use Earth’s resources in a more efficient and planet-centred way.

Of course, water is one of the protagonists within the proposed solutions. One of them is ending single-use plastics to diminish plastic entering the waste stream as well as to avoid leakage of chemicals to food and the environment. Wastewater treatment is also a key challenge that GFN proposes to tackle through automated solutions for processing and energy efficiency within facilities for water reuse purposes. Green roofs can retain rainwater and contribute to improve biodiversity, as well as reduce thermal fluctuations. Peatland protection and rewetting is a relevant solution due to their capacity to store carbon and thus manage greenhouse gas emissions.

REWAISE’s contribution

The REWAISE project aims at creating a new “smart water ecosystem” to achieve a carbon-neutral, sustainable hydrological cycle and contribute to a Water-Smart Society. The project will integrate intelligent digital framework for decentralised water services and decision-making by involving all relevant stakeholders and, this way, embrace the value of water as well as secure water supply for Europe.

REWAISE makes this challenge its own, expecting to contribute to improve this Earth Overshoot Day.