Mathis Wackernagel is a Swiss-born sustainability advocate. He is President of Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in Oakland, California; Brussels, Belgium, and Geneva, Switzerland. The think-tank is a non-profit that focuses on developing and promoting metrics for sustainability.
After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, he completed his Ph.D. in community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada in 1994. There, as his doctoral dissertation under Professor William Rees, he created with Professor Rees the ecological footprint concept and developed the methodology. He has worked on sustainability issues for organizations in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia and Australia. Wackernagel previously served as the director of the Sustainability Program at Redefining Progress in Oakland, California (1999 - 2003), and directed the Centre for Sustainability Studies / Centro de Estudios para la Sustentabilidad in Mexico (1995-2001). In 2004, he was also an adjunct faculty at SAGE of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 2010, he was appointed Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of 1956 Visiting Professor at Cornell University (1 July 2011 – 30 June 2013).
Wackernagel has said that "Overshoot will ultimately liquidate the planet's ecological assets."
Wackernagel, along with Susan Burns, received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation in 2007. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern in 2007, a 2006 World Wide Fund for Nature Award for Conservation Merit, and the 2005 Herman Daly Award of the US Society for Ecological Economics. With Global Footprint Network, he received the International Prize Calouste Gulbenkian 2008 (Lisbon, Portugal) “dedicated to the respect for biodiversity and defense of the environment in man’s relationship with nature.”
In 2013, Mathis Wackernagel received the Prix Nature Swisscanto. Prior, he received the 2012 Binding-Prize for Nature Conservation, the bi-annual Kenneth Boulding Award of the International Society for Ecological Economics, and the Blue Planet Prize of the Asahi Glass Foundation (the latter two with William E. Rees). He also received the 2011 Zayed International Prize for Environment in the category "action leading to positive change in society." The Zayed prize recognized Wackernagel’s contribution to “translate[ing] the complexity of humanity's impact on the environment and natural resources into a more understandable and actionable form. The concept of ‘ecological limits' and relating the demands of human beings to the planet's available ecological resources, has attracted and is catalyzing action among governments, business and civil society."
The (En)Rich List ranked Mathis Wackernagel as the 19th of the 100 most inspirational individuals whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures.(http://enrichlist.org/the-list/mathis-wackernagel/). John Elkington identified Mathis in 2012 among the “Zeronaut 50” Roll of Honor,i.e., leading pioneers who are driving the world’s most significant problems to zero (http://thezeronauts.com/roll_of_honor.html).Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth (with Williams E. Rees, and Phil Testemale, 1995) ISBN 0-86571-312-X
Sharing Nature's Interest (with Nicky Chambers and Craig Simmons, 2001) ISBN 1-85383-738-5
The Winners and Losers in Global Competition: Why Eco-Efficiency Reinforces Competitiveness: A Study of 44 Nations (with Andreas Sturm, 2003) ISBN 1-55753-357-1
Der Ecological Footprint. Die Welt neu vermessen. (with Bert Beyers)
2010, ISBN 3-931705-32-3
2016, ISBN 978-3863930745 (with updated figures)