“Everyone knows the carbon footprint, but does everyone know about the water footprint?”
That was the question posed by Professor Arjen Hoekstra at a conference of the World Preservation Foundation.
“Water shortages and pollution can be better understood and addressed by considering production and supply chains as a whole” said Prof Hoekstra, scientific director of the Water Footprint Network.
Professor Hoekstra claimed only 3% of our water footprint takes place in the home and 97% comes from what we buy due to the consumption of products.
According to the Water Footprint network, the average UK citizen consumes 4645 litres of the world’s water every day.
“Water problems are often closely tied to the structure of the global economy. Many countries have significantly externalised their water footprint, importing water-intensive goods from elsewhere.”
Prof Hoekstra gave an example of the effect of UK imports in creating water scarcity: 1430 million m3 of water per year are needed to produce soya beans for export to the UK to make cattle feed.
He added: “What is very important is that companies give product transparency, so that we know at least what we are buying. Government has to look at their own organisation of water footprint but also be very important in forcing business to explore transparency.”