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Water footprint initiative

G-Online

Policy

Supermarket aisle

Water footprinting and labelling would allow consumers to make more informed eco-choices at the supermarket.

Credit: Carl Davies, CSIRO

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Australia's CSIRO has joined a global network of private and public sector organisations seeking to advance the concept of 'water footprinting'.

The national scientific research agency has joined the Water Footprint Network, which aims to promote the sustainable, fair and efficient use of the world's fresh water resources.

The Network sees footprinting - a calculation of the total water volume embodied in products and services - as a means of understanding and addressing negative impacts on freshwater systems.

Measuring the water footprint of food products in particular is a key development in addressing critical global water and food security issues, said Derk Kuiper, Water Footprint Network Executive Director.

"Even companies situated where water is abundant may be exposed to the impacts of water scarcity through their supply chains. In order to adapt to increased climate variability and the pending world water crisis, companies need to understand these risks and develop appropriate management and growth strategies," he said.

As a Network partner, CSIRO has conducted a range of water footprint case studies on various products - including food products manufactured by Mars Australia - and has been active in developing water footprint calculation methods.

CSIRO Principal Scientist, Brad Ridoutt, said standardised and internationally agreed methods for product water footprinting are urgently needed.

"CSIRO will work toward agreed methods that will enable companies to start using water footprinting with confidence for reporting, priority setting and decision making," he said.