The UK’s Global Footprint | WWF




This footprint focuses on deforestation and ecosystem conversion, and degradation of the health of soils, forests and other natural ecosystems. The main drivers of these impacts on a global scale are agriculture and forestry.

The size of the UK’s overseas land footprint was highlighted in WWF and RSPB’s 2020 Riskier Business report: The UK’s overseas land footprint report which revealed that from 2016 to 2018, over 21 Mha of land in other countries (equivalent to 88% of the UK’s land area) was expected to produce just 7 commodities, including cocoa, palm oil, timber and soybeans, used and consumed in the UK.

To reduce this footprint, the Global Footprint report states that:

  • UK agricultural and forestry supply chains must not be responsible for any deforestation or ecosystem conversion by 2023 at the latest.
  • Nature degradation in the UK must be halted and nature degradation overseas resulting from UK demand must be significantly minimized by 2030.

To achieve these goals, the report recommends starting by establishing a strong due diligence obligation for companies that also applies to the financial sector, as well as illegal and legal deforestation and conversion.

WWF and 3Keel’s new report on the environmental impacts of a legal-based due diligence obligation clearly demonstrates that a legal deforestation due diligence requirement alone will only have a marginal impact on reduction the impact of UK imports on ecosystem destruction, biodiversity loss and the greenhouse effect. gas emission.


Marine resourceMarine resources include fishery products and aquatic plants and seaweed directly imported and consumed, as well as marine resources incorporated into other products, such as fish feed used in animal production.

The goal of the Global Footprint Report is for 100% of marine resources to come from sustainable sources by 2030. Among other actions, the UK must end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in UK waters and imports of fish and related products, as well as ensuring that all UK and imported fish stocks are caught at or below levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.

Dependence on fishmeal and fish oil in food should be reduced through the promotion of sustainable alternative foods. Incidental capture and killing of vulnerable marine species in seafood production should be stopped and minimized.

Our upcoming Risky Seafood Business report highlights the global environmental footprint of UK seafood production and consumption, as well as value chains dependent on marine species.


Material consumptionOur material footprint is linked to the consumption of materials in the UK, including fossil fuels, metallic ores and non-metallic ores.

The Global Footprint Report says the UK needs to reduce its material consumption footprint (non-biomass materials) by 50% by 2030. To achieve this, the report recommends reducing our use of fossil fuels by 36% by 2030 and eliminate 43% of preventable plastic waste.

Our upcoming Packaging Material Footprint report examines the UK footprint for packaging materials sold to consumers by retailers and hotels. The packaging is made from several materials, including aluminum, steel, glass and plastic. Each has their own unique supply chain that involves the processing of raw materials around the world.

The report reveals a number of environmental and social impacts along material supply chains, including the impacts of mining and the pollution burden of exporting untreated waste from the UK to other countries. It also reveals where transparency along packaging material supply chains is lacking.


Greenhouse gasOne of the main drivers of habitat and species loss is climate change due to the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

The Global Footprint Report’s greenhouse gas emissions target states that the UK must reduce its domestic emissions, including international shipping and air transport, by 39% and reduce the carbon footprint abroad of UK import consumption by 33% by 2030.

WWF’s 2020 report, Carbon Footprint: Exploring the UK’s Contribution to Climate Change, found that almost half of the UK’s carbon footprint comes from emissions released abroad to satisfy UK consumption. Between 1990 and 2016, emissions within UK borders fell by 41%, but the consumption-based footprint only declined by 15%, mainly due to goods and services sourced from the UK. ‘foreign.

Read the carbon footprint


Use of nutrientsOur nutritional footprint is linked to the addition of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to agricultural land in fertilizers. UK nitrate and phosphate use rates are well above the global average.

According to our Global Footprint Report, the UK must reduce its use of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) by at least 80%.

To achieve this goal, it recommends a series of actions, including increasing the efficiency of nitrogen use to at least 80% for all farmers through agricultural techniques and increasing the use of nitrogen conserving agricultural practices.

Our next report on nitrogen use examines the impacts of nitrogen use on UK consumption and production. It identifies the key priorities and interventions that will be needed as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle UK nitrogen emissions, providing policy recommendations to tackle our nitrogen footprint.


Our Global Footprint report highlights the financial sector’s contribution to the UK’s global footprint, through its role in funding a range of unsustainable activities, from deforestation and land conversion. to mining.

Our upcoming Risky Finance report highlights the UK financial sector’s footprint in tropical forests, including the Amazon, and the tools the financial sector can and should use to mitigate its exposure to deforestation. This report focuses on solutions through improved due diligence processes for the sector, recommending mandatory due diligence on all forest products extended to financial beneficiaries, and that we should set a goal of zero ecosystem conversion, to eliminate the risk of illegal deforestation.

In support of this, our recent report with Greenpeace, The Big Smoke, found that UK financial institutions funded carbon emissions 1.8 times the emissions of the UK as a whole. The report says finance is one of the biggest contributors to climate change in the UK and supports calls for regulation to bring it in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Read the big smoke report


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