The interest in the water footprint is rooted in the recognition that human impacts on freshwater systems can ultimately be linked to human consumption, and that issues like water shortages and pollution can be better understood and addressed by considering production and supply chains as a whole," says Professor Arjen Y. Hoekstra, creator of the water footprint concept. "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. This puts pressure on the water resources in the exporting regions, where too often mechanisms for wise water governance and conservation are lacking. Not only governments, but also consumers, businesses and civil society communities can play a role in achieving a better management of water resources."
Some facts and figures
- The production of one kilogram of beef requires 15 thousand litres of water (93% green, 4% blue, 3% grey water footprint). There is a huge variation around this global average. The precise footprint of a piece of beef depends on factors such as the type of production system and the composition and origin of the feed of the cow. [download report]
- The water footprint of a 150-gram soy burger produced in the Netherlands is about 160 litres. A beef burger from the same country costs about 1000 litres. [download report]
- The water footprint of Chinese consumption is about 1070 cubic meter per year per capita. About 10% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China. [download report]
- Japan with a footprint of 1380 cubic meter per year per capita, has about 77% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country. [download report]
- The water footprint of US citizens is 2840 cubic meter per year per capita. About 20% of this water footprint is external. The largest external water footprint of US consumption lies in the Yangtze river basin, China.[download report]