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New Zealand Starts Living On Borrowed Time

On Saturday, New Zealand becomes the 48th country to begin living on borrowed time in 2021. This is the day when we have used all of our environmental resources for the year and move into overdraft. The costs of ecological overspending is seen in deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

While we are doing slightly better than 2020, when we hit our overshoot day on 5 May, it is likely much of that success can be attributed to coronavirus lockdowns. Earth Overshoot Day 2020 fell on August 22. The global 2021 date has yet to be announced.

Humanity as a whole is currently using nature 1.6 times faster than our planet can regenerate- or using the equivalent to 1.6 Earths. In Aotearoa, we would need 1.7 Earths to keep up with demand.

“We are writing cheques our planet can’t cash by spending more of the Earth’s natural resources than it can regenerate in a single year. No business could survive operating in this kind of deficit. Neither can nature. We are feeding and fueling ourselves into disaster, but it doesn’t have to be this way. From our Government, to corporations, to ourselves, we can all make better choices to help build a better future, one in which we live in harmony with nature and within the bounds of our planet’s resources. Our very health and well-being depend on it,” says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO.

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Moving the date of Earth Overshoot Day back 5 days each year would allow humanity to reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. Solutions that #MoveTheDate are available and financially advantageous. The #MoveTheDate Solutions Map invites people to champion existing solutions. Users can also connect with each other on the basis of geography and focus of interest, accelerating the implementation of new projects in the real world. Significant opportunities are to be found in five key areas: cities, energy, food, population, and planet. For instance, cutting CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning by 50% would #MoveTheDate by 93 days.


About WWF-New Zealand

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organisation. WWF-New Zealand is part of a global network of WWF offices in more than 100 countries. Our vision is to build a future where all people live, and thrive, in harmony with nature. Our mission is to actively restore and enhance Aotearoa’s natural world from sea to sky.

Since 1975, WWF-New Zealand has worked on the ground with local communities, and in partnership with government and industry, using the best possible science to advocate change and effective conservation policy. Our New Zealand’s programmes include research, advocacy, and partnerships aimed at protecting precious habitats and species, minimising harm from fishing and other activities, reducing impacts from climate change, supporting innovation, and conserving and protecting Aotearoa’s wildlife. Find us at for the latest news and follow us on Twitter @WWFNewZealand

Ecological Footprint data for more than 200 countries and regions

Footprint Calculator

Ecological Footprint: Managing our Biocapacity Budget (book)

About the Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint is the most comprehensive biological resource accounting metric available. It adds up all of people’s competing demands for biologically productive areas – food, timber, fibres, carbon sequestration, and accommodation of infrastructure. Currently, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel make up 60% of humanity’s ecological footprint. The Footprint Calculator enables people to calculate their own Ecological Footprint and their personal Earth Overshoot Day, draws more than 2.5 million users per year, and is now available in eight languages.

About Global Footprint Network

Global Footprint Network is an international sustainability organization that is helping the world live within the Earth’s means and respond to climate change. Since 2003 we’ve engaged with more than 50 countries, 30 cities, and 70 global partners to deliver scientific insights that have driven high-impact policy and investment decisions. Together, we’re creating a future where all of us can thrive within the limits of our one planet.

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