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Mathis Wackernagel

Co-creator of the Ecological Footprint and President of Global Footprint Network. Award winning pioneer of new approaches to global sustainability. Has worked to promote ecological sustainability with governments, corporations and international NGOs on six continents.

Mathis created the ecological footprint concept and developed its accounting methodology with William Rees at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver as part of his Ph.D. research. The ecological footprint is a comprehensive resource accounting tool that tracks human demand against what our planet’s (or local) ecosystems can renew. 

Through the International NGO Global Footprint Network, Mathis has helped to shape sustainability policy for multinational corporations with a vision of the future where ecological overshoot no longer exists. His concept of ecological limits is catalyzing action among governments, business, and civil society, inspiring and mobilizing individuals and groups towards profound change. 

Mathis served as director of the Sustainability Program at Redefining Progress, Oakland, CA and also ran the Centro de Estudios para La Sustentabilidad at Anahuac University, Mexico.  

He has authored and contributed to over 100 peer-reviewed papers, articles, reports and several books on sustainability solutions including Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth; Sharing Nature’s Interest; Ecological Footprint: Managing our Biocapacity Budget. 

Mathis has been the recipient of numerous prestigious global awards including the 2018 World Sustainability Award, the 2015 IAIA Global Environment Award, the 2013 Prix Nature Swisscanto, the 2012 Blue Planet Prize, the 2012 Binding Prize for Nature Conservation, the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding Memorial Award and the 2011 Zayed International Prize for the Environment. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Berne in 2007, a 2007 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a 2006 World Wide Fund for Nature Award for Conservation Merit and the 2005 Herman Daly Award of the US Society for Ecological Economics. 

The en(rich) list selected Mathis as number 19 of 100 inspirational individuals whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures. Mathis was the Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of 1956 Visiting Professor at Cornell University between 2011-2014. 

Mathis is dedicated to the uptake of the ecological footprint by policy decision-makers all over the world, working with companies to make climate action integral to their business model. He believes that transformation to a regenerative economy is the only possible future for humanity.

Mathis has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and a Ph.D. in Regional Community and Planning from the University of British Columbia (Canada).