Our projects

The Water Footprint Network conducts a range of Water Footprint Assessment projects for private and public sector, as well as non-profit organisations. Using the latest research, we apply our expertise to analyse how the water footprint of production and consumption contribute to water scarcity and degraded water quality, resource efficiency and equitable sharing of water resources.

Our projects consider the impact on water resources from the local, regional, national or global perspectives and identify the concrete steps to reducing those impacts. Each project is tailored to meet specific needs, whether it is short-term or multi-year, with one partner or with multiple partners. What they have in common is that we work in an open, collaborative way to increase the knowledge and understanding that comes from Water Footprint Assessment and use this to drive strategic action which uses our limited resources – water, land, money, people – intelligently and with high impact.

Water is vital to business: poor water quality or insufficient supply can curtail - or even shut down - activities in business operations and in the supply chain. The method laid out in the Water Footprint Assessment Manual fills an emerging and urgent business need for a means of understanding water consumption in operations and in the supply chain, assessing its sustainability, and devising effective response strategies

Monika Weber-Fahr, Global Business Line Leader for IFC's Sustainable Business Advisory

Examples of our work

Climate Change Response

Regional and local government representatives, as well as business leaders, are using our insights to develop policies and strategies that better protect food and economic security.

IMPREX

Water Footprint Network is leading one of the work packages of IMPREX (IMproving PRedictions and management of hydrological Extremes), funded by the European Commission. The project is assessing impacts of hydrological extremes on the European economy and examining the risks related to the global supply and production of goods under hydrological extremes and climate change.

Read more about our work with Imprex here.

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UK Environment Agency

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Faced with growing problems related to water scarcity and pollution, the UK Environment Agency commissioned the Water Footprint Network to conduct a comprehensive Water Footprint Assessment of surface and groundwater in 35 sub-catchments in the Hertfordshire and North London Area. This study has highlighted the ways water management and regulations have contributed to water scarcity and water pollution levels and proposed a regulatory framework that integrates water quantity and quality resource management.

The Water Footprint Assessment brought new understanding of the local water resources under the existing regulations and could support joined water abstraction and water quality discharge consents. The results of this assessment can also be used for better communication of the issues of water scarcity and water pollution levels to water providers, water users and the public

Environment Manager (HNL East), Environment Agency

Cities Footprint Project, South America

Following our project with partner Servicios Ambientales S.A. (SASA) on the water footprint of La Paz (Bolivia), Quito (Ecuador) and Lima (Peru), a further eight cities are learning about their water footprint: Tarija and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia); Loja, Santa Cruz de Galapagos and Guayaquil (Ecuador); Fortaleza and Recife (Brazil); and Cali (Colombia). This is part of an initiative that works with municipal governments across South America to orientate the growth of cities towards low carbon and climate resilient development. La Paz, Quito and Lima all had a high grey water footprint, indicating a high level of contamination in the water courses. Results are pending for the other eight cities.

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SuizAgua

After learning that 82% of Switzerland’s water footprint lies outside its border, the Swiss Development Corporation initiated SuizAqua – a programme to engage companies and governments in Water Footprint Assessment. Activities are on-going in Colombia, Peru and Chile. The Water Footprint Network provides input through regular consultations and is on the project team with Fundacion Chile for the national water footprint of Chile.

Supply Chain Security

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We work with food and beverage companies and agri-business to quantify and map their water footprint, to assess the sustainability of a particular commodity they use in their products, and to identify where they should work first to achieve sustainable sourcing.

Water Footprint Assessments are helpful in supporting our water stewardship efforts because they provide a tool to measure and understand water use throughout our supply chain. A common, standard tool for assessing water footprints, as the Water Footprint Network provides, is critical as businesses work toward stewardship of this critical, shared resource

Greg Koch, Managing Director, Global Water Stewardship, The Coca-Cola Company

C&A/ C&A Foundation

In our strategic partnerships we work in multi-year projects to help a company develop its business strategy related to water in its operations and/or supply chain. Our partnership with C&A is building capacity in its core business functions and in its global supply chain to reduce their water footprint and improve conditions for communities and the environment.

The scientific rigour and clarity of the global water footprint standard will help C&A set goals for reducing its impacts to rivers and lakes, adopt corporate policies for reducing our water footprint, and move toward sustainable water use

Philip Chamberlain, Head Of Sustainable Business Development – C&A; Europe

Partnership for Cleaner Textile, Bangladesh

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The number of washing-dyeing-finishing mills in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh has grown rapidly in recent years putting mounting pressure on groundwater and degrading surface water quality. The Water Footprint Network is an implementing partner in the Partnership for Cleaner Textile in Bangladesh, which brings together international clothing brands, the mills and multi-stakeholders to transform the industry for its long-term viability and sustainability.

We are calculating the water footprint of the mills, the brands and for the clusters – to better understand how water can be used more sustainably and what can be done to reduce the impacts on the local communities.

Managing Water Risks

Diverse companies have benefited from our Water Risk Assessment Framework that identifies where risks exist. The framework can assess individual company operations, supply chains or investor and global portfolios in greater detail than other tools. The companies are using the results to improve the security of their supply chains and to inform ‘water stewardship business cases’ that can turn water related risks into opportunities.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®)

IHG recently performed the hospitality industry’s most comprehensive water risk assessment to date. Using the Water Risk Assessment Framework, we conducted a detailed assessment for all of the company’s hotels, as a first step in developing its worldwide Water Stewardship Programme.

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, IHG

Tata Group

The Tata Group enlisted the Water Footprint Network, with support from IFC, to conduct a Water Footprint Assessment for 12 facilities in four of its companies – Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors, Tata Power and Tata Steel. We trained 25 water champions at the facilities who collected data and did the analysis that resulted in recommendations to the CEOs of the companies on water footprint reduction measures to be taken.

Read more about our work on managing water risks here.

Tata companies believe that efficient water management should be an integral part of the corporate strategy of any socially responsible business. The Water Footprint Assessment methodology gave us a structured way to address water issues within plant boundaries, in the supply chain and in the watershed to arrive at a comprehensive response strategy

Arunavo Mukerjee, Vice President, Advisory Services, Tata Cleantech Capital Ltd

Shaping Effective Policy and Regulations

Understanding your water footprint can help in achieving targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and can help local and regional governments improve water management and productivity. By assessing the amount of crop produced per drop of water for staple food and export crops in specific countries and identifying which fall below global averages, we are informing action to improve policy and agricultural practices that enhance water security and bolster economic development.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

We conducted Water Footprint Profiles of seven Sub-Saharan African countries: Benin, Ethiopia,
Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda. The profiles 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. Analysis of this kind is vital because agriculture is the largest consumer of water in Sub-Saharan Africa and a rapidly rising population will put even more pressure on water and land resources. The Water Footprint Profiles reveal that staple food and export crops are often produced inefficiently in all seven countries – they use more water and land resources than the global benchmark for these crops.

Read more about this work here.

Capacity Building & Technical Assistance

We verify the application of the Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard in projects conducted by others by reviewing their work prior to completion or by providing on-going technical assistance over the project duration. We have verified studies for GAIA in 2013 (Grupo Nutresa) and 2014 (Celsia), provided Technical Assistance for Servicios Ambientales S.A. in their project funded by CAF and CDKN “Huella de Ciudades” (Cities Footprint Project), and are providing technical assistance, capacity building and verification for Chilean vineyards in a project headed by Universidad Mayor.

We are also providing technical assistance and capacity building for Fundación Chile in a project for the Chilean water Authority funded by Swiss cooperation to prepare a national framework for water footprint accounting at river basin level in Chile.

These are just a few of our projects. Please contact us if you would like to learn more or would like to work with us.

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