Newsletter November 2016




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Executive Director’s note

As investors, companies and institutions become increasingly conscious of water related business risks, the need for better informed risk assessment is increasing. To meet that need, we’ve developed a new framework that enables businesses to accelerate progress towards water stewardship by identifying specific water risks and turning them into opportunities.
The advanced Water Risk Assessment Framework can be used to assess a range of water related business risks, such as company operations and supply chain, investor portfolios and global portfolios. It’s a flexible framework that can be tailored for any portfolio or individual business and incorporates details of the business as a whole and includes the variations amongst each individual site included in the assessment. With it, we can help businesses identify the level of exposure of each operational unit. By combining the level of risk with the level of exposure, a ‘water stewardship business case’ is established for each operational unit and the most appropriate and strategic water stewardship actions can be selected.  If you would like to find out how we can support you by tailoring the Water Risk Assessment Framework to your specific needs, please contact us.

"The comprehensive analysis we have developed with Water Footprint Network puts us in a strong position to empower our hotels to make a positive difference in their local communities through water stewardship."
Paul Snyder, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility – Environmental Sustainability, IHG.

I’d also like to inform you to two new platforms that will be launched in December: the Water Footprint Research Alliance platform and a Practitioners’ Community platform. Both platforms will be available to everyone via our website, yet certain areas will be for members only. We will share interesting highlights across the platforms in order to strengthen the connection between research and applied science.

The Water Footprint Research Alliance brings together leading researchers from around the world. The new platform will feature past and future events and resources. It will include a members’ only forum for dialogue, discussions and shared resources and a repository for materials from previous scientific workshops, special sessions and conferences, such as presentations and papers. We invite you to apply for membership of the Water Footprint Research Alliance here.
The Practitioners Community platform will provide opportunities for Water Footprint Network partners to share activities and learning, strengthen practice and to develop practical approaches to specific types of Water Footprint Assessment. Members will be able to participate in working groups, join discussions and chat rooms to discuss their experiences with using Water Footprint Assessment. Practical Water Footprint Assessment Guidelines will be available to members of this platform and they can also benefit from guidance from us. If you are interested in joining this platform, please contact us.

Ruth Mathews, Executive Director, Water Footprint Network

Image credit: Drought Australia Drought affecting Lake Hume in Australia, Creative Commons - Tim J Keegan







Upcoming Events

    Global Water Footprint Standard Training Course, The Hague, The Netherlands, 23rd – 24th November 2016
    Our flagship two-day course, taught by top global experts in Water Footprint Assessment, is the highlight of our training agenda. Participants will learn about the latest innovations in water footprint research and application. You will gain experience in using Water Footprint Assessment in a range of applications, from calculating the water footprint of agriculture, industry or domestic water use at all scales, to assessing its sustainability, and using these results to identify the priority strategic actions for companies, governments, non-profit organisations and individuals. This course is valuable for everyone involved in water and environmental resources management. Taught in an interactive way, there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion and personalised attention.

    Read the agenda here and register here.
    Deadline for registration: 18th November 2016

    E-learning Course: Water Footprint Assessment 1st – 21st December 2016
    Water Footprint Assessment: Concept and Application is an online foundation course facilitated by experts from the Water Footprint Network and the University of Twente. Developed with support from the World Bank Institute, it introduces Water Footprint Assessment and explains how it can be implemented and applied to inform decisions related to water policy and management. It examines how Water Footprint Assessment can help highlight the diverse benefits provided to people by fresh water and explores how those benefits might change under different management options, thus bringing scientific information into decisions in practical ways.

    Find out more about the course and register here.
    Deadline for registration: 18th November 2016.

    FAO’s LEAP Partnership: Water Footprinting Technical Advisory Group, Kigali, Rwanda, 14th - 18th November 2016
    Water Footprint Network’s Ashok Chapagain will attend this second face-to-face meeting of the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance Partnership (LEAP). Founded in 2012, LEAP involves stakeholders across the livestock sectors, all who share an interest in improving the environmental performance of livestock supply chains. The objective is to develop comprehensive guidance and methodology for understanding the environmental performance of livestock supply chains.
    The overarching goal of this initiative is to contribute to improved environmental performance of the livestock sector while considering social and economic viability. The Partnership will contribute towards the achievement of this goal by providing guidance on environmental assessments and their subsequent application. Water Footprint Network is part on the Technical Advisory Group that supports the implementation of the project’s work programme through the provision of technical and scientific expertise.
    Find out more about LEAP here.

    Conference on 'Extractive Industry & Sustainable Development', COP22, Marrakesh, Morocco, 15th November 2016
    Water Footprint Network’s Executive Director, Ruth Mathews, will present in this conference, held during COP22 in Marrakesh. The event aims to improve, enhance and promote the contribution of the mining sector to sustainable development. Global initiatives structured by international organisations, local projects implemented by local associations and organisations, techniques and methods developed by research centers, policies set and reinforced by governments and legal bodies will be presented and discussed.

    Read more here.
    AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 12th - 16th December 2016
    This is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world. Along with Arizona State University, Louisiana State University and University of the Free State, South Africa, Water Footprint Network will convene a session entitled ‘Linking water with economy: Examining emerging practices, policy and research in Water Footprint Assessment’. The session will primarily focus on: monitoring and achieving the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); new data (e.g., use of Remote Sensing), tools and development indicators; water productivity and efficient water use, water-related risk assessment and stewardship approaches; and practices and governance that contribute to sustainable, efficient, and equitable water use.
    Find out more about this session here.
    Registration now on the AGU website.
    Deadline for registration: 3rd November.
    EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 23rd – 28th April 2017
    Water Footprint Network and partners will convene a session at the EGU General Assembly 2017 entitled 'How can Water Footprint Assessment aid in monitoring progress and guiding action towards the Sustainable Development Goals’.
    The session (number HS5.10) will explore tools and approaches to monitor progress towards the water related UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In particular, it will focus on how Water Footprint Assessment can help measure various SDG targets and provide relevant information for policy and guided action towards meeting those targets. It will involve identification of existing gaps and advances in scientific knowledge in this field.

    You are invited to SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT for our session. Find out more here.
    Abstract submission deadline is 11th January 2017, 13:00 CET.
    The meeting programme will be available on 2 March 2017.




Past Events

    AWS Global Water Stewardship Forum, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1st - 2nd November 2016
    Over 100 water stewardship practitioners and promoters from around 20 countries met to advance the understanding and impact of AWS Water Stewardship, and to contribute to the further development of the global AWS Water Stewardship System at this event, hosted by AWS with support from the Scottish Government, the International Water Stewardship Program (IWASP), UKAID, “German Co-operation” and GIZ.
    Ruth Mathews joined senior representatives from the 2030 Water Resources Group, WWF International and the UN CEO Water Mandate to discuss how to advance coordination and create coherence between AWS and other water initiatives. She also moderated a table discussion on 'Access to socially robust information for AWS Standard implementation’. The session explored how different data sources can contribute towards creating a shared, accepted view of the broader context within which water stewardship is applied.

    For more information about the event, read the Global Water Stewardship Day 1 Report and Day 2 Report.

    Master Course: Hydrology & Water Footprint Assessment, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 5th September – 11th November 2016
    Water Footprint Network supported our partner, University of Twente, in delivering this 10-week course at Master of Science level.  Attended by some 20+ Bachelor students from different universities across the Netherlands, the course concluded last week.
    Read more about the course here.

    Dutch Agri-Food Producers’ Annual Meeting, Breda, the Netherlands, 8th November 2016
    Water Footprint Network’s Ertug Ercin gave a presentation to environmental coordinators working in the food processing industry about using Water Footprint Assessment to advance water sustainability in the agro-food industry. The event was organised by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

    ‘Understanding water in the value chain through Water Footprint Assessment’ - Training for Royal DSM, Heerlen, the Netherlands, 27th October 2016
    Royal DSM invited us to train staff from different disciplines across its global operations in order to understand how water is used in its value chain. The company aims to understand how Water Footprint Assessment informs on corporate water management strategies and supports communications of its results. Practical examples and case studies were used to demonstrate how Water Footprint Assessment can be applied to identify strategies for reducing the water footprint, identifying sustainability hotspots, minimise water risks, prioritise investment across a global portfolio or supply chain and to identify best practices for sustainable development.

    Image credit: Boy drinking water. Creative Commons  - Scott Harrison, CharityWater







Water Footprint Network News

            Determining water stewardship business case
    • InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) vice president, Paul Snyder’s discusses working with Water Footprint Network towards corporate responsibility, conducting water risk assessment and how IHG is translating that into action plans to improve the hotels’ water management in Environmental Leader. Our work with IHG is an example of an application of our new Water Risk Assessment Framework.
    • Water Footprint Network’s Ertug Ercin discussed the benefits of Water Footprint Assessment for business in DERİN EKONOMİ, the Turkish ‘Economist’. Read the article (in Turkish) here.




Partner News

    • A warm welcome to our new partner, Interuniversity Research Center on Pollution and Environment (CIRIAF), a research centre based in Italy that operates in the fields of environmental sustainability, renewable energy resources and biomass. The centre is conducting research and consulting activities dedicated to the evaluation of the water footprint of products and services and the development of assessment methodologies. It is keen to participate in the debate on Water Footprint Assessment standards and to interact with experts and stakeholders from both academia and other backgrounds.





    On 7th November, we published Water Footprint Profiles for seven Sub-Saharan African countries: Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana,  Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda. The profiles, commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, use the science of water footprint to provide a new and valuable perspective into the pressure the agricultural sector is putting on available water resources in these countries and demonstrate how water footprint is a key to sustainable development in the region. Read the briefing paper here and a blog by Ruth Mathews here.

    Image credit: Irrigation in Kenya, A Y Hoekstra, University of Twente

    Wu, P., Gao, X., Zhao, X., Wang, Y. and Sun, S. (2016). Framework of "two-dimension three-element" coupling flow of real water and virtual water, Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering, 32(12):1-10. (In Chinese with English abstract).

    A Chinese member of the Water Footprint Research Alliance has published this new research opinion on coupling real water and virtual water flows. The researchers identified a need to construct a unified scientific framework that combines new concepts and approaches, such as “water footprint” and “virtual water flow”, with traditional hydrological approaches in order to guide water resources researchers and managers to tackle the emerging water issues in a holistic manner. The framework provides a clear direction for managing limited fresh water resources in an integrated manner that takes the natural, social and economic values of water into account rather than only its physical characteristics. The authors welcome comments and discussions which can greatly help their further research and construction of this framework. 


    Vicente de Paulo R. da Silva, Sonaly D. de Oliveira, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, José Dantas Neto, João Hugo B. C. Campos, Célia C. Braga, Lincoln Eloi de Araújo, Danilo de Oliveira Aleixo, José Ivaldo B. de Brito, Márcio Dionísio de Souza and Romildo M. de Holanda Water Footprint and Virtual Water Trade of Brazil, published in Water 2016, 8, 517; doi:10.3390/w8110517.

    This study aims to determine the water footprint of Brazil’s national food consumption, the virtual water flows associated with international trade in the main agricultural commodities, as well as water scarcity, water self-sufficiency and water dependency per Brazilian region. While previous country studies on water footprints and virtual water trade focused on virtual water importers or water-scarce countries, this is the first study to concentrate on a water-abundant virtual water-exporting country.


    Rafaela Flach, Ylva Ran, Javier Godar, Louise Karlberg and Clement Sauvet Towards more spatially explicit assessments of virtual water flows: linking local water use and scarcity to global demand of Brazilian farming commodities, published in Environmental Research Letters, Oct 17, 2016.

    This paper studies the water flows associated with the export of soy and sugarcane from different municipalities of Brazil. The researchers focused on two main consumers – China and the EU – during 2011. The findings indicate that the policy relevance of current assessments of virtual water flows that rely on trade data aggregated at the national level may be hampered, as they do not capture the spatial heterogeneity in water resources, water use and water management options. Therefore, because countries are often highly variable in their landscape and the availability of water resources, there is a need of finer scales that capture spatial heterogeneity in environmental variables in the regions of production, and that account for differential sourcing within the borders of the country of production.








Water Footprint Network
International Water House
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The Netherlands


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