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Water Footprint Network partners with WWF, Zoological Society of London and Global Footprint Network to create the "Living Planet Report 2014".

WFN is pleased to have contributed to the tenth edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication, the most encompassing, science-based analysis of the state of earth's natural systems to date. The report finds that for more than 40 years, humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded what our planet can replenish. This is having a devastating impact on life and points to an urgent need for collective action to set a new course for a sustainable future.
-Whilst population has risen fourfold in the last century, the water footprint has increased sevenfold.
-Shortages are forecast in 200 of the world's estimated 263 river basins.
-Wildlife populations have more than halved since the 1970s
-Freshwater species are declining fastest, with three quarters lost since the 1970s.

Download the full report here.

Ground-breaking UK study points to future of water management worldwide

The Environment Agency and the Water Footprint Network have launched the results of a pioneering, collaborative study of water use in a densely populated region of the UK; the Hertfordshire and North London (HNL) Area. By looking at water use in this specific area through the lens of a Water Footprint Assessment, we have unearthed an effective, new and innovative approach to tackling water problems that can be applied worldwide. Read the full press release hereand the full report here. We also invite you to watch our live streamed seminar: Does Water Footprint Assessment Enhance Sustainable Management of River Basins?

Call for papers for special issue of ‘Sustainability’

You are invited to submit your research paper to the Special Issue “Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation” of the open-access journal “Sustainability”. The deadline for manuscript submissions is 28 February 2015, but you can submit any time before. Publication follows immediately after acceptance. For more information please download the Call for papers.


The Water Footprint Assessment Manual

The Global Water Footprint Standard – developed through a joint effort of the Water Footprint Network, its partners, and scientists of the University of Twente in the Netherlands – has garnered international support from major companies, policymakers, NGOs and scientists as an important step toward solving the world’s ever increasing water problems. The standard is contained in the Water Footprint Assessment Manual.

More info on the Global Water Footprint Standard.
Download The Water Footprint Assessment Manual.

Translations available in Chinese and Portuguese.

The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society

The new book by professor Arjen Hoekstra, creator of the water footprint concept, is available now: The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society. An absolute must-read for everyone interested in sustainable water use.

Purchase the The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society.


The Water Footprint of a product is the volume of freshwater appropriated to produce the product, taking into account the volumes of water consumed and polluted in the different steps of the supply chain.


Help us to promote the transition towards sustainable, fair and efficient use of fresh water resources worldwide. Donate now.

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Direct and indirect water use

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

Global water

Highlights of the site
Water footprint calculator
Product gallery
WaterStat database
WFA Tool
Water-Energy Nexus

The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society

Key publications

The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society
Water Footprint Assessment Manual
Globalization of Water
Water Footprint of Humanity
Water Footprints of Crop Products
Water Footprint of Animal Products
Global Water Scarcity

The relation between consumption and water use

"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]

  • The global water footprint in the period 1996-2005 was 9087 Gm3/yr (74% green, 11% blue, 15% grey). Agricultural production contributes 92% to this total footprint. [download report]

  • Water scarcity affects over 2.7 billion people for at least one month each year. [download report]

About the Website:

This is the site of the Water Footprint Network since its launch in 2008. The website was originally set up by prof. Arjen Y. Hoekstra and dr. Ashok K. Chapagain at UNESCO-IHE in 2004. Currently the website is hosted and maintained by the University of Twente, the Netherlands.

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