Belgian ecological footprint among the world's largest

Only five countries in the world have a bigger ecological footprint than Belgium. That's according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which presented its two-yearly "Living Planet Report." Only Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark and the United States have a bigger impact on nature. The United Kingdom is on 27.

The report is devastating about the way humankind is treating nature, imposing an ever bigger burden on the ecosystems. It highlights "the tremendous pressure that humanity is putting on our planet."

"Our planet's health is in a bad way and it's not improving", WWF researchers conclude. The so-called ecological footprint, which indicates what surface each individual would need on average to be able to continue the present lifestyle, is much too large.

"We are using 50 percent more resources than the Earth can provide. The global average is 2.7 hectares per person, while the Earth can only cope with 1.8 hectares. Belgium has a very poor score with 7.1 hectares. In fact, we behave as if we have an extra planet at our disposal somewhere", explains Damien Vincent of WWF Belgium.

"Unless we change our course drastically, our footprint will continue to grow, in a way that we would need at least two extra planets by 2030."

The WWF report indicates that our enormous footprint is mainly due to rising consumption trends. Worldwide, it's mainly the growing population that's becoming a real problem. "The global population has more than doubled since 1950 - to 7 billion in 2011 - and is forecast to reach just over 9.3 billion people by 2050", the report points out.

These factors, combined with a steady rise of energy consumption in rich countries and BRIICS countries brings the WWF to the conclusion that our footprint will continue to rise.

Afghanistan, Haiti, Bangladesh among low-impact countries

Rich countries have a footprint which is five times the average footprint of poor countries. The Palestinian territories, East Timor, Afghanistan, Haiti, Eritrea, Bangladesh and Rwanda have the best score as they have the lowest impact.