Water Footprint Network Releases The Water Footprint Manual

The Water Footprint Network (WFN) is a Netherlands-based international organization that helps individuals and corporations better understand how and where water is used. Their mission is to promote the transition towards sustainable, fair and efficient use of fresh water resources worldwide. Sponsoring partners are as diverse as the Coca Cola Company and the World Wildlife Federation. Their recently released Water Footprint Manual is a living document that covers a comprehensive set of methods for water footprint accounting. The manual covers everything from calculating water footprints for individual processes and products to water sustainability assessment and response options.

Image Credit: Water Footprint ManualThe Water Manual
The Water Manual

To begin, they define β€œwater footprint” as a spatial and temporal indicator of direct and indirect freshwater use. For the rest of us that mean how much water is used in creating and using something- a process they call water footprint accounting. This information can be used for a sustainability assessment that provides the data needed to form response strategies.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a founding member of the WFN, has played a major role in creating the Manual as part of their Water Project: In 2007 they created a Global Water Tool to help companies map and reduce water use, and in 2009 they published an online report called Water for Business outlining water initiatives around the world.

β€œIntegrating water quantity and quality with time and place into a measurement of sustainable water use is a very complex challenge.” — James Griffiths, Managing Director of the Water Project

The Manual continues the WFN’s water footprint mission: increasing awareness and understanding of how consumption and production chains relate to water use and impact, and encourage water governance to reduce negative ecological and social impacts of everyone’s water footprint. To do this they develop standards, create tools, provide or arrange for public meetings and presentations, promote information exchange, support any organization in developing sustainable policy, and advise and certify the use of the water footprint. They do it all. And they want your help.

The WFN and the WBCSD are actively seeking comments and suggestions on this current manual based on studies and experience through the end of May. Contact them at: info@waterfootprint.org.

Written by Scott James

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