Newsletter March 2016




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Executive Director’s note

This year’s World Water Day (22nd of March) asks us to consider the linkages between water and jobs and how the quantity and quality of water available can not only change workers' lives and livelihoods but also transform societies and economies. We have highlighted where jobs, water and food security are inextricably linked and where they are most vulnerable. The results illuminate where we most urgently need to apply our knowledge to manage water better.

See all of the graphics and read my blog here.

As the pressure of our collective water footprint increases, we face uncertain times. Sustaining livelihoods will require a concerted effort on the part of many organisations and individuals as we continue to stretch our finite supplies.

Yet our understanding of where and when water is scarce or polluted, and how the water footprint of the goods we produce and consume contributes to these problems, is evolving rapidly. By tackling these problems with innovation and keeping the goal of sustainable development in sight, I believe we can lay the foundations to manage water better and take great strides towards securing and transforming livelihoods and economies through fair and smart water use.

We all need clean, abundant water to survive. Let’s give it the care and attention it needs by placing sustainable water use at the heart of our values and lives, not only on World Water Day, but every day.

Ruth Mathews, Executive Director, Water Footprint Network







Upcoming Events

    First Symposium of the Water Footprint Research Alliance, Cape Town, South Africa, 4th - 7th April, 2016
    The first ever Symposium of the Water Footprint Research Alliance will be held by Water Footprint Network with South Africa’s University of the Free State and Water Research Commission. This year’s theme will be water footprint and sustainable water use in food production. Water Footprint Network’s Science Director, Dr Ashok Chapagain will open the conference and will be followed by a keynote speech by the originator of the water footprint concept and founder of Water Footprint Network, Prof. Arjen Hoekstra.

    We thank everyone that has submitted abstracts; 34 papers have been selected for presentation at the conference. All of the authors are 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.

    For more information about the conference, please contact: Henry Jordaan at the University of the Free State or Xander de Bruine at Water Footprint Network.

    Find out more about the Water Footprint Research Alliance and how to become a member here.
    Read the programme 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 will join the CDP team to present how Water Footprint Network’s tools, data and services can help companies reporting on water.  
    Register now for the webinar at your chosen time: 9am BST or 4pm BST.

    European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria, 17th – 22nd April, 2016
    This year’s EGU includes a session entitled ‘Water footprint, virtual water and water use efficiency as analytical tools for water and food security’. It will feature presentations on leading research and applications in Water Footprint Assessment.  On 19th April, Water Footprint Network’s project manager, Dr. Ertug Ercin, will present ‘Water Footprint Assessment of Cotton Cultivation in India’. This will be followed by ‘Marginal cost curves for water footprint reduction in irrigated agriculture: a policy and decision making guide for efficient water use in crop production’, co-presented by Prof. Hoekstra.

    See the programme here.

    E learning course Water Footprint Assessment 9th – 27th May 2016
    The 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 issue.

    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 are 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




Events News

    European River Symposium 2016, Vienna, 2nd - 4th March 2016
    Water Footprint Network’s Knowledge Manager, Xander de Bruine, attended this event, where Spain’s Segura River Basin was awarded the International  River Foundation’s 2016 European River Prize, recognising the river’s extraordinary return to health following extensive restoration efforts over the past thirty years. This event showed among others the economic importance of healthy rivers. While the average annual rainfall in the Segura River Basin is only 365mm, it is a semiarid basin that shows the least renewable water resources of the Spanish river basins. Still more then 5 million tons of fruit and vegetables with an economic value of 4.3 billion euros are exported annualy from the Segura River Basin.

    Find out more here.

    Final EURO-AGRIWAT conference, Wageningen, The Netherlands, 7th - 9th March 2016
    Ruth Mathews and Prof. Hoekstra were both keynote speakers at this event, which was the closing conference of the Assessment of EUROpean AGRIculture WATer use and trade under climate change (EURO-AGRIWAT). The COST Action EURO-AGRIWAT focused on Water Footprint Assessment and virtual water trade of key food and no-food agricultural products, including their uncertainties and scenarios relating to water footprint and virtual water trade under future climatic conditions. It used advanced tools and data to allow a detailed analysis of interactions between crops, climate and management that can be taken into account in the Water Footprint Assessment.

    During this event, entitled ‘Water Footprint of agricultural products: progress, challenges and solutions’, scientists and stakeholders collaborated to prepare and disseminate recommendations and guidelines for enabling more efficient water resource management related to agricultural activities under climate change and variability.

    Find out more about the event here.

    Launch of EsAgua water footprint platform, Barcelona, Spain 18th February 2016
    Ruth Mathews and Prof. Arjen Hoekstra attended the launch of EsAgua, the first water footprint platform in Spain. The launch took place during a conference in Barcelona on ‘Water footprint: indicator of efficiency and sustainability in the industry’, organised by SUEZ Advanced Solutions in their Water resources center (CREA).

    EsAgua has been set up to meet the growing need for information about the water footprint for businesses seeking to achieve more sustainable and equitable use of fresh water. EsAgua brings together Water Footprint Network’s leadership in private sector application of Water Footprint Assessment, CETAQUA’s science and technical strengths and AENOR’s business assurance know-how to provide Spanish companies with the methods, tools, data and expertise needed to address water sustainability in their business. CEIGRAM and the R&D Center of the Polytechnic University of Madrid are also supporting this initiative. Contact Daniel Chico at Water Footprint Network for more information.

    Watch an interview with Ruth Mathews here.

    10th Annual Danish Water Forum Jubilee Meeting, Frederiksberg, Denmark, 28th January 2016
    Ruth Mathews presented “Water Footprint Assessment: Driving Improvements in Food Production” at the plenary session of DWF’s 10th Annual Water Research Meeting. This was one of a series of opening themes that are considered as game changers on how we will look at the water sector over the next two decades – in Denmark and abroad.

    See all of the presentations here.







Partner News

    • Dame Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO of the UK & Ireland arm of Water Footprint Network partner Nestlé, contributed to the foreword of a new report ‘Smartwater: a prosperous future for the food and drink supply chain’, published by Business in the Community (BITC). Though the report is primarily geared towards for food and drink manufacturers, caterers and retailers operating in the UK, it is equally applicable to businesses in this sector worldwide. It explains why looking after water matters, and the business drivers for having a food and drink supply chain resilient to risks associated with water. It highlights why water is a national concern with respect to water scarcity, water quality, increasing population and the effect of climate change in the UK. It also emphasizes the importance of understanding and acting along the full supply chains which often extend beyond the national borders. Featuring a six step easy to follow practical guide for sustainable water management, it draws on examples of what UK companies are already doing to address their water footprint not only locally in the UK but also along their global agricultural supply chains and through collective action, including InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) work with Water Footprint Network to develop a global water stewardship programme.
    • Water Footprint Network partner, Global Footprint Network, has launched its 2016 edition of the National Footprint Accounts, featuring a number of improvements to the accounting methodology. The updated interactive map of the  ‘Ecological Wealth of Nations’ and country rankings are available here.
    • A map of the water footprint per capita in African countries, created by the Mail & Guardian Africa using data from the WaterStat database (Hoekstra and Mekonnen, 2012), reveals that some water scarce African countries have a higher water footprint per capita than those with more abundance of water. It found, for example, that Niger’s water footprint per capita is more than three times higher than Kenya’s, which has far more water resources.
    • Water Footprint Network partners, Pacific Institute and Good Stuff International, attended the 9th Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy in Panama in January. The theme of this year’s Forum was ‘Managing Water and Biodiversity in Humid Areas’. Around 50 water experts from over 20 countries shared information, data and ideas about water challenges and opportunities around the world.
    • Peter Gleick from Pacific Institute reports that participants had the opportunity to learn about the specific water challenges facing Panama, which depends on freshwater flows to operate the vitally important Panama Canal, the role of forest restoration in tropical hydrology and ecological protection, and efforts at the national level to develop a comprehensive water security plan for the country.
    • Diego Arevalo from Good Stuff International presented the key results of the Water Footprint Assessment of Colombia, a project that received the Young Talent award for Sustainable Water Management from the Botin Foundation.  The project, which was developed by GSI, CTA, SDC and IDEAM, shows how Water Footprint Assessment can help improve co-operation at basin level. It provided an opportunity to influence Colombia’s environmental public policy relating to Water Footprint Assessment in the National Water Study 2014. For more information contact Diego Arevalo.




WFN News

    Water Footprint Network welcomes our new partners, China Quality Certification Centre (CQC) and Wise Irrisystem S.L..

    CQC, based in China, provides certification, assessment, evaluation, testing, training and other technical services to a variety of industries worldwide. It provides Water Footprint Assessments for Chinese clients and conducts research and studies on China’s water footprint management system.

    Wise Irrisystem S.L., based in Spain, develops and implements advanced fertirrigation models and equipment in order to increase agricultural yields and reduce the consumption of water and fertilizers.





    Water Footprint Network’s Science Director, Dr Ashok Chapagain and Project Director, Dr Guoping Zhang with Prof. Dr Arjen Hoekstra have edited a collection of 18 new open access papers on leading research in, "Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation", published in ‘Sustainability’.

    A new paper by our partner, University of Twente, examines the water footprint of agriculture in China and the inter-regional virtual water trade. ‘The effect of inter-annual variability of consumption, production, trade and climate on crop-related green and blue water footprints and inter-regional virtual water trade: A study for China (1978 - 2008)’ quantifies the effect of inter-annual variability of consumption, production, trade and climate on water footprint and virtual water over time, using China over the period 1978 - 2008 as a case study. Authors: La Zhuo, Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra.






WFN Contact



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


+31 85 484 9600

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