Awareness of Planetary Boundaries As a Starting Point for Sustainable Development: An Example of the Use Of The Ecological Footprint in Education Nejc Bobovnik and Katja Vintar Mally
Summary: Public awareness of planetary boundaries is crucially important for moving towards sustainable development and, thus, is an essential component of education for sustainable development. A requirement for sustainable development is that socioeconomic progress be achieved within the environment’s carrying capacity, which in recent decades humanity has exceeded through depletion of natural resources and pollution of the environment. Calculations of the ecological footprint as a synthetic measure of environmental impacts, which online calculators have made available to the general public, clearly indicate how the planetary capacity for regeneration has been exceeded. In research undertaken with geography students at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, we used the online ecological footprint calculator to make selected learning content more accessible through calculation of one’s own personal ecological footprint and experimentation with the possibilities of reducing it in different consumption categories. Simultaneously, we also evaluated the acquisition of practical experience with the calculator of the ecological footprint and its suitability for use in schools. Users of the online calculator recognised its important contribution to education for sustainable development and its user-friendliness, which they viewed as particularly advisable in the last triad of primary school and in secondary school, while they found that there is room for improvement mostly in terms of specific proposals for changing habits and motivating users to introduce these changes into everyday life.