Water Footprint Network launches worldwide Research Alliance

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During the World Water Congress in Edinburgh the Water Footprint Network launched the Water Footprint Research Alliance. The Research Alliance with partners from the Netherlands, China, Spain and South Africa is aiming at advanced research and collaboration in the field of Water Footprint Assessment and sustainable water use.

The fifteenth World Water Congress in Edinburgh is being held from 25-29 May and is organized by the International Water Resources Organization (IWRA). Water Professionals from all over the world are gathering in Scotland to attend a week full of education and inspiration.

Worldwide initiative
The first milestone was the official start of the Water Footprint Research Alliance. “To reduce the global water footprint as fast as possible, we need our brightest minds to come together and rethink how we use water. The new research alliance will tap innovation, accelerate progress and help channel us towards the united, global response we need to meet today’s water resource challenges using Water Footprint Assessment,” said Ashok Chapagain, Science Director of the Water Footprint Network. Partners from all over the world are invited to contribute to the research.

From awareness to action
Over the years the Water Footprint has become a valuable instrument to raise awareness. The next step is to gather information on local water flows. The sustainable use of groundwater, rainwater and surface water has to be determined locally. A crop grown on rainwater is more sustainable than a crop grown on groundwater. This kind of information is essential for good water governance. A water-intensive product is, not necessarily, a non-sustainable product. It all depends on the water use in the local environment.

Wise water governance
Professor Arjen Hoekstra, founding father of the water footprint concept, and one of the launching partners of the new Research Alliance on behalf of the University of Twente states: “Frequent droughts, increasing water scarcity and deteriorating water quality levels, combined with increasing demand for fresh water resources, uncertainties due to the effects of climate change and advancement of new knowledge have ignited global interest in the concept of water footprint. Better understanding of the complexity of wise water governance and the links between water, food and energy security is urgently needed”.

Towards sustainability
The alliance will identify knowledge gaps, co-ordinate and promote areas of research and support knowledge sharing to accelerate progress towards sustainable water use. The Water Footprint Network will co-ordinate the alliance and use the results to provide companies, governments, small-scale producers and individuals with the most strategic insights into their water use and the most effective, science-based practical advice to make their water footprint sustainable.

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