International Approaches to Policy and Decision-making
Edited by Jayne M. Godfrey and Keryn Chalmers
Chapter 3: Water Footprint Accounting
Arjen Y. Hoekstra INTRODUCTION Freshwater is a global resource as a result of international trade in water-intensive goods such as crop and animal products, natural fibres and bio-energy. The use of water resources has, to a great extent, become spatially disconnected from the consumers. Using cotton as an example, from field to final product cotton passes through a number of distinct production stages with different impacts on water resources. These stages of production are often located in different places with final consumption in yet another place. Malaysia does not grow cotton, but imports raw cotton from China, India and Pakistan for processing in the textile industry and exports cotton clothes to the European market (Chapagain et al. 2006). As a result, the impacts of consumption of a final cotton product on the globe’s water resources can only be identified by looking at the supply chain and tracing the origins of the product. The aim of Water Footprint Accounting is to quantify and locate the water footprint of a process, product, producer or consumer or to quantify in space and time the water footprint in a specified geographic area. Uncovering the links between consumption and water use can inform water governance strategies by identifying new triggers for change. Where final consumers, retailers, food industries and traders in water-intensive products have traditionally been out of the scope of those who studied or were responsible for good water governance, with Water Footprint Accounting these players enter the picture now as potential ‘change agents’....
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