In order to preserve freshwater, the Foundation has decided to raise the awareness of Water Footprint and its associated tools. A "Water Footprint” is the total volume of freshwater used by an individual or community or used by a business. But only around 10% of water consumption is from domestic use. The biggest water footprints are hidden in the products we consumer everyday. For example, it takes 16,000 litres of water to make 1kg beef and 1,000 litres of water to make 1 litre of milk.
The global population has dramatically increased, compared with 200 years ago. There are now nearly 7 billion people on the planet
Global consumption of water-intensive products like meat is rising and there is increasing competition for water from industry, urbanisation and biofuel crops. Currently, it is estimated that over 70% of global fresh-water withdrawals are used for agriculture and the provision of food
Following current trends, humanity will need 40% more fresh water over the next twenty years
- Unlike fossil fuels, water has no substitutes or alternatives
Water stress - water resources that are no longer sufficient for the global population’s needs.
- At the same time the total amount of available freshwater supply is decreasing because of climate change, which has caused receding glaciers, reduced stream and river flow, and shrinking lakes. Many aquifers have been over-pumped and are not recharging quickly. Much of the remaining freshwater supply has also become polluted, salted, unsuitable or otherwise unavailable for drinking, industry and agriculture.
A potential global water crisis
Economic development combined with population growth means that we are consuming more water today than ever before. Global population growth is set to rise from 6.7 billion today to over 9 billion in 2050. This expansion in population will place a higher demand on resources available, particularly for agriculture and the provision of food. The UN World Water Development Report estimated that over 70% of global fresh-water withdrawals are used for this purpose.
A further complication is that freshwater is not distributed evenly across the globe – the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reports that nine countries account for 60% of global freshwater - while within countries there are often significant variations in regional rainfall levels.
More than one-sixth of the world’s population live in glacier or snowmelt-fed river basins and will be affected by the seasonal shift in stream flow, an increase in the ratio of winter to annual flows, and possibly the reduction in low flows caused by decreased glacier extent or snow water storage. At the same time, sea-level rises attributable to climate change will extend areas of salinisation of groundwater and estuaries, resulting in a decrease in freshwater availability for people and ecosystems in coastal areas.
Water stress already creates devastating consequences for the approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide that do not have access to clean drinking water. As reported by The Water Project, in developing countries, about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. NGOs have argued for some time that there will be mass migration away from areas of severe water scarcity, across Africa and Asia.
Understanding the Water Footprint
The phrase “carbon footprint” has entered common parlance in European markets, even among non-green audiences. However, for most people and even many businesses, the concept of ‘water footprint’ is still unheard of.
As explained by Arjen Hoekstra in The Environmentalist, the water footprint of a business is measured in two parts: the company’s operations and its supply chain. The first measurement looks at the direct freshwater use - the amount of freshwater used within the business itself and as part of its day-to-day operations. The supply chain water footprint refers to the indirect freshwater use - the water used by suppliers to produce all the goods and services that form the input of the business.
Generally, a water footprint carries three components: blue, green and grey. The blue water footprint is the volume of freshwater evaporated from the global blue water resources (surface and ground water). The green water footprint is the volume of water evaporated from the global green water resources (rainwater stored in the soil). The grey water footprint is the volume of polluted water associated with the production of goods and services.
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