ON August 22, the world marks Earth Overshoot Day – the day when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what planet Earth can regenerate in that period.

For the remainder of 2020, therefore, we will live by depleting our planet of its resources – effectively stealing from the global ecosystem, growing our ecological debt and undermining our increasingly fragile economies.

It is an improvement of three weeks from 2019, when Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 29, but that advance has not been caused by calculated changes such as decarbonising our energy or food production, but solely by the lockdown measures imposed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic around the globe.

While this is welcome in as much that it shows what can be achieved when we put our minds to it, it is just a drop in the ocean compared to the wholesale, systematic change that is needed. In other words, we have to choose our future by design not disaster.

So it is with this theme in mind that The Herald in, conjunction with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the California-based Global Footprint Network, is teaming up with Scotland’s most progressive business leaders, climate experts and young people for its Earth Overshoot Day campaign.

As part of this campaign, The Herald will be hosting a live virtual event experience on Thursday, August 6 to discuss the challenges we face to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day, to ask questions of the experts and explore the opportunities that One Planet Prosperity – as SEPA has described it – will provide for Scotland, particularly with next year’s COP26 climate summit due to be held in Glasgow.

Editor-in-chief of The Herald, Donald Martin, will chair an interactive discussion with a distinguished speakers including our keynote, leading entrepreneur Marie Macklin; and panel members, chief executive of SEPA Terry A’Hearn; president of the Global Footprint Network, Mathis Wackernagel, and Catriona Patterson, board member of the 2050 Climate Group.

Terry A’Hearn, chief executive, SEPA emphasised the need for immediate action. He said: “The scale of the environmental challenge facing humanity is enormous, with countries, companies and communities facing a crossroads and a real urgency to act.

“Whilst the global consensus on climate and other issues is clear, so too is the positive case for One Planet Prosperity – building better countries, better companies and better communities where we all benefit from sustainable, inclusive growth.

“With the only successful businesses in future being those that embrace the economic opportunity of choosing our future by design, not disaster, this important event examines what sustainability leadership looks like in Scotland and across the globe.”

The concept of Earth Overshoot Day comes from the San Francisco-based Global Footprint Network, a sustainability research organisation whose executives were responsible for the development of the Ecological Footprint sustainability metric in the 1990s. Earth Overshoot Day is still a relatively new concept here, but it is establishing itself around the world, particularly in France and Germany, where media interest has been intense.

The organisation’s president, Mathis Wackernagel, said that by choosing design over disaster we can begin to redress the ecological imbalance of our consumption versus what the Earth can regenerate.

He said: “It is the only sensible path forward because Earth’s ecological budget is not up for negotiation, the only choice before us is whether we build one-planet prosperity or one-planet misery.

“Scotland’s Covid-19 recovery is an opportunity to choose. No society can shift overnight to a thriving economy in a world characterised by climate change, biological resource constraints, and phased-out fossil fuels.

“No country, city, or company can rebuild, retrofit or repurpose its infrastructure instantaneously. Clearly, those who plan ahead stand a far better chance to thrive than those who keep investing in the obsolete resource-intensive economy.”

Wackernagel also praised the efforts being made by Scotland towards its sustainability objectives.

He added: “It recognises that our future depends on some level of resource security, and that in turn shows an insight that I’m sorry to report is still quite rare. I was astonished at how proactive Scotland has become around these issues.”

The Herald’s Earth Overshoot Day Virtual Event Experience, Choosing Our Future By Design Not Disaster will be delivered by Newsquest Scotland Events via Cameron Presentations on Thursday, August 6th at 6pm.

For further information https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/choosing-our-future/

Or contact, Events Director for The Herald, Lyndsay Wilson. Lyndsay.wilson@heraldandtimes.co.uk