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News Water Footprint: from awareness to policy

An increasing number of people recognise that the water footprint of humanity is unsustainable. Consumptive water use exceeds available water resources in many places, which results in dropping groundwater and lake levels and emptied rivers in various places. Water pollution is widespread, but unnecessary. Through our consumption of daily goods, we all relate to these problems. Many individuals, businesses and governments have started to ask themselves: what is our contribution?

A number of major companies - including frontrunners Coca Cola, SABMiller, Unilever and Nestlé - have begun to assess the supply-chain water footprint for some of their products. They start discovering that the water footprint of their raw material strongly depends on where they source it from. For example: is sugar sourced from sugar beet or sugar cane? From a humid place or from a semi-arid place where water resources are being over-exploited? From a rain-fed field, an efficiently irrigated field or an irrigated system where most of the water evaporates before it reaches the plant? By looking into the water footprint in detail - where and when, and what are the local impacts - hotspots can be identified. Next step: reduction of the water footprint in those places where most urgently required.

Also national governments realise that for developing well-informed national water policy, they have to look into the water footprint. Spain is running ahead by making it obligatory that river basin plans are based on a proper analysis of the water footprints of goods produced in the basin and by considering to which extent water-intensive goods for export are made in water-scarce basins.   

The Water Footprint Network aims to support the various initiatives that arise. See for an overview of business and governmental initiatives under the umbrella of the WF Network:

Water Footprint Training Course

* Partners can now register for the next Water Footprint Training Course.

* Period: 16-18 February 2010.

* Place: UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands.

* Info:


Water Footprint website

* Need training materials? Go to:

* Get most recent publications? Download from:

* Get data? Go to:

* Practical questions? Go to the FAQ pages:


Water Footprint Network

* The Network currently consists of 82 partners, from all sectors, from six continents.

* The Water Footprint Network continues to grow rapidly.

* Overview of partners:

* Why become a partner? See

* How to become a partner? See  

Contact information The Water Footprint Network (email: )
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information The Water Footprint Network
Keyword(s) Water Footprint
Geographical coverage International
News date 19/11/2009
Working language(s) ENGLISH