Biography

William E. Rees is a human ecologist, ecological economist, professor, and former director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning. Since 1969, Rees has been at the forefront of the fields of sustainable development, ecology, and ecological economics, producing countless publications and ideas, and contributing to a wide variety of collaborative projects focused on the public policy and planning implications of global environmental trends and the necessary ecological conditions for sustainable socioeconomic development.

Dr. Rees is best known as the originator of the Ecological Footprint concept, and the co-developer of the quantitative analysis model that estimates humanity’s ecological impact on the ecosphere in terms of appropriated ecosystem area. Twenty years after the development of the Ecological Footprint analysis model, governments of all levels, from municipal to international, major international organisation sand agencies, and many NGOs have incorporated Ecological Footprint analysis into their planning processes. His ground-breaking work has shifted the global paradigm for policy makers and academics engaged in the struggle for sustainable socioeconomic development.

The Ecological Footprint has become the world’s best-known metaphor for the human ‘load’ on the planet, and Rees’ book on the ecological footprint analysis method (co-authored with Mathis Wackernagel), Our Ecological Footprint (1996), has been published in 9 languages. Rees has spoken in more than 20 countries on topics ranging from human bio-ecology, sustainable development, and ecological economics to global change and societal collapse. Through his ongoing work, Rees continues to inspire students and professionals around the world to rise to the challenge of sustainable development.

Dr. Rees is a founding member and past President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics; a co-investigator in the ‘Global Integrity Project,’ which aims to define the ecological and political requirements for biodiversity preservation; a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute; and a Founding Fellow of the One Earth Initiative. 

Jointly with his former doctoral student, Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, Dr. Rees won the 2012 Blue Planet Prize and the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding award.

The Blue Planet Prize is an award presented to individuals or organizations worldwide in recognition of outstanding achievements in scientific research and its application that have helped provide solutions to global environmental problems. According to the ISEE (International Society for Ecological Economics), the Kenneth E. Boulding award is given to “outstanding individuals who have contributed original and seminal approaches that have furthered our understanding of the interfaces between the social, ecological, ethical, economic and political dimensions of our world.”

Download full Curriculum Vitae here.