Reducing the impact of humanity's water footprint
- promoting the water footprint concept to measure both water use and the impacts of this use
- reducing harmful water footprint impacts
- defining public and private sector actions that support better water management in specific river basins.
Rising human populations and increased income levels are leading to increased demand for water-intensive products such as meat, sugar and cotton. This is driving over-abstraction of water and pollution of freshwater ecosystems – resulting in rivers running dry, lake and groundwater levels dropping, and freshwater species becoming endangered.
The increased human pressure on water resources is compounded by changed precipation patterns due to global climate change.
For example, UK households directly use around 150 litres of water per person per day. But when the virtual water used to produce the food, beverages, clothing and other products consumed by these individuals is included, the water footprint rises to 4,645 litres per person per day.
A large part of the water footprint of developed nations is accounted for by water use in other nations to produce commodities.