Newsletter April 2016




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Executive Director’s note

In light of calls in the 2016 UN World Water Development Report for innovative learning approaches to improve sustainable water management and job creation, it is encouraging to see that research innovation in Water Footprint Assessment is getting global attention.

The positive response to the first Water Footprint Research Alliance (WFRA) Conference in Cape Town this month was heartening. In total, 34 papers were selected for presentation. The four days of intense interaction and knowledge exchange between more than 50 of the world’s leading scientists was jointly facilitated by our Science Director, Dr. Ashok Chapagain, and our WFRA member, Dr. Henry Jordaan from University of Free State. We thank everyone who participated, as well as the Water Research Commission in South Africa for their valuable support in organising the event. South Africa is emerging as a hub of excellence in capacity building and applying the science of water footprint in the region.

Whilst these discussions were in full swing, former Kenyan President, Mwai Kibaki, was appointed as UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Water in Africa. He seems fully aware of the enormity of the challenge he faces. With many African countries experiencing drought or water stress, ending the continent’s hunger and poverty is a long road. This is exacerbated by low crop yields and water productivity, as well as poor infrastructure and inefficient water management.

Kibaki cannot solve these problems alone. Collaboration and coordinated action by everyone will be vital to move Africa towards sustainable and efficient use of its water resources, and it is important that producers in the region, as well as businesses that source from there, are fully involved in this process.

Upon the invitation of the Dutch Government, we gave a webinar for five Dutch Embassies in Africa. Interests in using Water Footprint Assessment ranged from supporting water smart agriculture to improving transboundary river basin management. Recognising the enormous challenge in African countries, we hope you will join us in building capacity in, and applications of, Water Footprint Assessment that help us understand the issues and find solutions that will support food and job security so that nations in Africa can thrive.

Ruth Mathews, Executive Director, Water Footprint Network







Upcoming Events

    E-learning course: Water Footprint Assessment, 9th – 27th May 2016
    Water Footprint Assessment: Concept and Application is an online foundations course facilitated by experts from the Water Footprint Network and the University of Twente. Developed with support of the World Bank Institute, it provides an introduction to the concept of water footprint and the field of Water Footprint Assessment for those new to the topic.
    Participants will be expected to spend approximately 15 hours of self-paced learning over a period of three weeks. Reading materials, audio slides and basic assignments will be provided. Expert tutors will be available during the second and third weeks to answer questions and to guide discussion by email via our online forum.
    Course instructors: Abebe Chukalla of University of Twente and Daniel Chico, Water Footprint Network.
    For more information contact

    Master Course: Hydrology & Water Footprint Assessment, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 5th September – 11th November 2016
    This 10-week course at Master of Science level is open to students and professionals from different disciplines. A Bachelor degree in some related field is required. External participants will join students following University of Twente’s Master Programme in Civil Engineering and Management (Specialisation in Water Engineering and Management). The course is conducted in English. The study load is 15 ECTS-credits (420 hours spread over 10 weeks).
    Find out more here.




Event News

    First Conference of the Water Footprint Research Alliance, Cape Town, South Africa, 4th - 7th April 2016
    34 papers were selected for presentation at this conference. All of the authors were invited to submit their papers to the special issue of Water,  which will be co-edited by Dr. Ashok Chapagain of Water Footprint Network, Prof. Arjen Hoekstra of University of Twente and Dr. Pieter R. van Oel of Wageningen University. Papers will go through the peer-review process before publication. Three of the submitted papers will get fee waiver for publication.
    Read the programme here.

    Find out more about the Water Footprint Research Alliance and how to become a member here.

    Webinar presentation for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dutch Embassies in Africa, 7th April 2016
    Dr. Guoping Zhang of Water Footprint Network was invited to present how Water Footprint Assessment can support more sustainable and efficient water use and how water footprint and virtual water based country profiles can generate evidence based data to make informed decisions. The aim was to share knowledge, to examine how Water Footprint Assessment can support more sustainable water management, accelerate innovation and enhance water productivity in African countries such as Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda and South Sudan.
    For more information contact Xander de Bruine, Knowledge Manager, Water Footprint Network.

    VI Seminar of Aquae Foundation, UNED University, Madrid, 14th April 2016
    The Aquae Foundation Water Economics department of the UNED, National Distance Education University (UNED), invited Water Footprint Network project manager, Daniel Chico, to give a keynote speech at its VI Seminar. The speech, entitled ‘Urban sustainability and water footprint’, explained how Water Footprint Assessment can help achieve sustainability in urban water management. Two case studies of projects by Water Footprint Network partners were presented, one that assessed whether water use was sustainable in several Latin American cities such as Lima, Quito, Recife and La Paz, and another that studied the impact of tourism on water resources in Oaxaca, one of the most important tourist areas of Mexico.

    Find out more (in Spanish) here.

    Webinar on ‘How to undertake a Water Footprint Assessment and disclose to CDP’, 14th April 2016

    To support companies interested in responding to the CDP water questionnaire, Water Footprint Network joined the CDP team to present how Water Footprint Network’s tools, data and services can help companies assess their water related risks, sustainability of water use in their business and reporting on water.  

    Download the webinar here.
    European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria, 17th – 22nd April 2016

    This year’s EGU included a session on19th April entitled ‘Water footprint, virtual water and water use efficiency as analytical tools for water and food security’. It featured presentations on leading research and applications in Water Footprint Assessment.  Water Footprint Network’s project manager, Dr. Ertug Ercin, presented ‘Water Footprint Assessment of Cotton Cultivation in India’.

    See the programme here.







WFN News

    Water-Light Breakfast at Radisson Blu
    Leading hotel group, Radisson Blu®, published new research in collaboration with Water Footprint Network, on its “Super Breakfast” concept, which proves a 22% reduction in water footprint compared to the previous buffet breakfast.
    To understand impact of breakfasts on water consumption, Radisson Blu invited the Water Footprint Network to undertake the calculations of the two breakfasts’ water footprints. A comparison was made between the breakfast offer in 2014 and new Super Breakfast in 2015.
    Read more here.
    Read the Water Footprint Assessment here.

    Water Footprint Assessment of FMO's agribusiness portfolio: towards halving the footprint in the sugar supply chain
    Netherlands Development Finance Company’s (FMO) and Water Footprint Network’s Daniel Chico, and Programme Director, Guoping Zhang, published “Water Footprint Assessment of FMO's agribusiness portfolio: towards halving the footprint in the sugar supply chain”.

    This study presents the baseline Water Footprint Assessment of three of the FMO’s clients, each of which participate at different stages of the value chain of sugar. The assessment identified key areas of concern for the selected clients to improve their water management, and prioritized places in which water consumption or pollution is currently unsustainable. FMO can use the outcomes to identify which actions they should prioritise in order to mitigate water related business risks, thus showing the usefulness of such evaluation for a company’s sustainable water management.




Partner News

    Launch of GRACE’s Spanish-language Water Footprint Calculator
    GRACE launched a new Spanish-language version of its Water Footprint Calculator when it participated in the White House Water Summit on 22nd March.
    See the calculator here and read GRACE’s blog about the launch here.
    Launch of AquaPath’s website
    Water Footprint Network has been working with AquaPath for the past year to help empower European citizens to use water more responsibly. The website features a new set of water footprint calculators, along with a series of trainings and tests to help people learn more about water. All of the resources are available in multiple languages. It also features a tool that lets you report local water issues. The campaign is funded by the European Programme Erasmus Plus.
    See the website here.

    PhD Defence by La Zhuo, University of Twente
    Our founding partner, University of Twente bagged one more PhD in the field of water footprint, with a successful public defence of La Zhuo’s PhD thesis “Past, current and future water footprints, water scarcity and virtual water flows in China” on Thursday 21st April 2016.  Zhuo has published two key papers in the field of water footprint and two additional papers are in the review process. Congratulations to her!

    PhD vacancies at the University of Twente, The Netherlands
    The water management group at the University of Twente is looking for two enthusiastic PhD students to strengthen their water footprint research team. One of the students will work on the relation water-food and the other on water-energy.
    Application deadline: 15th May 2016
    Read more here.

    Postdoc vacancy at the University of Twente, The Netherlands
    The water management group at the University of Twente is also looking for a postdoc to strengthen its water footprint research team. The research will include work on water productivity of crop production for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
    Application deadline: 15th May 2016
    Read more here.





    Professor Arjen Hoekstra’s ‘A critique on the water-scarcity weighted water footprint in LCA’ was published in Science Direct. In the paper, Hoekstra presents concerns about the water-scarcity weighted water footprint that is used within life cycle assessment. He asserts that the water footprint should be measured in volumetric terms to be consistent with other footprint indicators; that both green and blue water resources are scarce and should be measured; and, given limited water resources, that it is key to measure water use in litre per product unit.





WFN Contact



Water Footprint Network
International Water House
Bezuidenhoutseweg 2
2594 AV The Hague
The Netherlands


+31 85 484 9600

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