Resource: Global and National Environmental Indicators
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Title: Global and National Environmental Indicators
Resource type: Indicators
Topics: Agriculture, Ecosystems, Education, Energy, Land Use, Statewide/Global, Water
Keywords: indicator, carrying capacity, natural resources, natural capital, worldwide
Audience: All
Region: Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
Summary: Several reports provide a global and national context for local efforts in Minnesota to promote sustainability.
Content: The Living Planet Report is World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) periodic update on the state of the world's ecosystems - as measured by the Living Planet Index (LPI) - and the human pressures on them through the consumption of renewable natural resources - as measured by the Ecological Footprint. There is a cause-effect linkage between the two measures.

The report (free in PDF format at the web page below) contains many graphics and maps which illustrate by country the status of forest, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, as well as grain consumption, marine fish consumption, wood consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, cement consumption, and overall consumption pressure. Trend charts are also included.

WWF's Living Planet Report draws on consistent and updateable datasets to measure the impact of modern day living on the health of the world's living systems.

The report also contains a measure of the consumption pressure placed on natural environments by humanity, based on per capita resource consumption and pollution statistics from 152 countries.

From the 2008 report:

"Humanity's demand on the planet has more than doubled over the past 45 years as a result of population growth and increasing individual consumption. In 1961, almost all countries in the world had more than enough capacity to meet their own demand; by 2005, the situation had changed radically, with many countries able to meet their needs only by importing resources from other nations and by using the global atmosphere as a dumping ground for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In an overexploited world, ecological debtor nations are particularly at risk from local and global overshoot, and from the associated decline in ecosystem services, the life support system on which humanity depends. If we continue with business as usual, by the early 2030s we will need two planets to keep up with humanity's demand for goods and services."

The Heinz Center's 2008 "State of the Nation's Ecosystems" sets the standard for environmental indicator reporting in the U.S. The report presents data on dozens of environmental indicators at the national level in a factual and non-judgmental way. The scientifically sound and non-partisan indicators were selected by individuals from businesses, environmental organizations, universities, and federal, state, and local government agencies. For more information, see

The US EPA has prepared a 2008 Report on the Environment, which can be accessed at

For similar indicator web sites developed by the World Resources Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, see
Also see the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-4), produced by the UN, at

See also the 2,500 page Millennium Ecosystem Assessment(, the most comprehensive survey to date into the state of the planet, which concludes that human activities threaten the Earth's ability to sustain future generations. Published in March 2005 by United Nations Foundation, the World Bank and others, it was prepared by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over a period of four years. Its assessment:

* Humans have radically altered ecosystems in the past 50 years.

* Changes have brought many gains but at high ecosystem cost.

* Further unsustainable practices will threaten development goals.

* Workable solutions will require significant changes in policy.

Suggested by: Philipp Muessig
Added: 03/7/01
Updated: 08/12/11