Keynote address "The Water Footprint of Humanity" by A. Y. Hoekstra at 2012 International Conference on Climate Change in Taipei City, Taiwan

2012 International Conference on Climate Change
National Central Library
No.20, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 10001, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Keynote address
16 Jan. 2013, 13:00 p.m.

The water footprint of humanity - the global dimension of water management

Arjen Y. Hoekstra
University of Twente, the Netherlands

The water footprint of humanity has exceeded sustainable levels in several places in the world and is unequally distributed among people. Water footprint reduction is a shared responsibility of governments, companies, investors, farmers and consumers. Good information about water footprints of communities, businesses and products is required in order to understand how we can formulate adequate response strategies.

Integration of freshwater considerations is essential in nearly all decisions made in daily life. As consumers we make decisions on what we consume, which indirectly affects our water footprint. As workers for government or companies we make decisions on public and private investments, on where materials are sourced from and on agricultural, urban and energy policies. The accumulation of all those decisions has brought us in the position we face today: too many places where rivers run dry, groundwater and lake levels decline and aquatic life is threatened by damming of rivers and pollution. The problems are often invisible, because as a result of international trade in both agricultural and industrial goods, we have little idea about the natural resource use and environmental impacts underlying our daily commodities. Water Footprint Assessment offers a tool for government and companies to better understand how they can contribute to a wiser use of our limited freshwater resources.

Arjen Y. Hoekstra is Professor in Water Management at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. He has working experience in various professional environments in different countries, including South-East Asia. He is creator of the water footprint concept and established the interdisciplinary research field of Water Footprint Assessment, which addresses the relations between water management, consumption and trade. His books include Perspectives on Water (1998), Globalization of Water (2008), The Water Footprint Assessment Manual (2011) and The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society (2013).

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