Created in 2002 by Arjen Hoekstra, the water footprint is one of the family of environmental footprints that help us understand how our production and consumption choices are affecting natural resources. As population grows and the standard of living increases for many people, the water footprint tells us how much water is used each and every day in all our activities, such as for producing our food and to clothe us, and indicates the pressure we exert on our freshwater resources.
What is a water footprint
Water footprints can be calculated for an individual person, a process, a product’s entire value chain or for a business, a river basin or a nation. They provide powerful insights for businesses to understand their water-related business risk, for governments to understand the role of water in their economy and water dependency, and for consumers to know how much water is hidden in the products they use. Most importantly, they help drive strategic action toward sustainable, efficient and equitable water use.
Water Footprint Assessment?
What is the water footprint of humanity, of cotton grown in the Indus River basin, of Brazilian soybeans imported into the European Union, of a flower farm in Ethiopia? How do we know if a country, a product a business or a river basin has a sustainable water footprint? What actions should be taken and where should we start working first? We can find out answers to these questions when we conduct a Water Footprint Assessment.
Business water footprint
While the price of water is rarely a driving force, many companies are awakening to the fact that their business is reliant on water, in their operations or their supply chain. The water footprint can help all producers learn about their water dependence and plot a course for addressing water-related business risks.
Product water footprint
Every product has a water footprint and that water footprint lands in one or more places in the world. The size of the water footprint lets us know how much of our limited water resources that product has claimed and whether it could be made more efficiently. Is the product’s water footprint sustainable? Let’s check the local context in which it lands and we can tell you.
Personal water footprint
Each of us uses water at home for cooking, bathing, laundry but our larger water footprint is the ‘hidden’ water in all the products we use or consume. Depending upon what we eat and our lifestyle, we can have a larger or smaller water footprint. And where is this water footprint? It’s all around the world, linking us to rivers and aquifers, communities, plants and animals far from our homes
National water footprint
The water footprint isn’t only for products and companies, it also tells us how much water is being consumed or polluted in a river basin, a region or a country. As goods are traded between countries, imported and exported, the water footprint follows in the form of virtual water. For a country to secure water, food, energy and international relations, it needs to consider how it is using its own water and the water of other countries to provide goods and services to its citizens.