- Learn how to conduct a water footprint sustainability assessment and identify and prioritize the most strategic actions to be taken.
- Find guidance for calculating the green, blue and grey water footprint to understand the geographic and temporal allocation of water resources for industry, agriculture and domestic water supply.
‘Water footprint assessment’ refers to the full range of activities to: (i) quantify and locate the water footprint of a process, product, producer or consumer or to quantify in space and time the water footprint in a specified geographic area; (ii) assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of this water footprint; and (iii) formulate a response strategy.
How a water footprint assessment will look, largely depends on the focus of interest. One can be interested in the water footprint of one specific process step in a whole production chain, or in the water footprint of a final product. Alternatively, one can be interested in the water footprint of a consumer or group of consumers or in the water footprint of a producer or whole economic sector. Finally, one can take a geographic perspective, looking at the total water footprint within a delineated area such as a municipality, province, nation, catchment or river basin. Such a total water footprint is the aggregation of the water footprints of many separate processes taking place in the area.
Water footprint assessment is an analytical tool, it can be instrumental in helping to understand how activities and products relate to water scarcity and pollution and related impacts and what can be done to make sure activities and products do not contribute to unsustainable use of freshwater. As a tool, a water footprint assessment provides insight, it does not tell people ‘what to do’. Rather it helps people to understand what can be done.
The Global Water Footprint Standard contains the global standard for ‘water footprint assessment’ as developed and maintained by the Water Footprint Network (WFN). It covers a comprehensive set of definitions and methods for water footprint accounting. It shows how water footprints are calculated for individual processes and products, as well as for consumers, nations and businesses. It also includes methods for water footprint sustainability assessment and a library of water footprint response options.