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"Water footprint financial aid to make people aware of water consumption."

Maite M. Aldaya gave a session at the Master's Degree in Biodiversity, Landscapes and Sustainable management

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Maite M.Aldaya
PHOTO: Manuel Castells
11/03/14 10:36 Laura Latorre

For Maite M. Aldaya, who holds a degree in Biology and a PhD in Ecology from the University of Navarra,"the water footprint financial aid toraise people's awareness of water consumption". According to this environmental expert (she works at the UN "Office of the Water Decade" in Zaragoza and the "Office of Sustainable Consumption and Production of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics of the United Nations Environment Program in Paris), "today there is enough water to cover the needs of the population, but there are programs of study that predict that in 2030 the global demand for fresh water could exceed the supply by 40%, if changes are not made in the way it is used".

This indicator, which analyzes the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services generated by a business or consumed by an individual or community and their impacts, allows for greater transparency in the governance of water resources and greater efficiency in their use. "Until now," says Aldaya, " the management of resources was carried out from a local point of view, but programs of study later makes it clear that the management of water has a global impact component.

The concept of the water footprint emerged 12 years ago
Spain, the first country to formally adopt it

The concept of water footprint emerged 12 years ago and is still evolving. Its invention stems from earlier terms such as ecological footprint, carbon footprint (measuring the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions) or virtual water (the actual amount of water required to manufacture any agricultural or industrial good or product).

Aldaya explained that today there are hundreds of organizations that have evaluated the water footprint of their products, processes, watersheds and countries, or have become interested in learning about and implementing the methodology needed to evaluate it. "In recent years," he noted, "there has been an increase in the number of work water footprint groups in Spanish-speaking countries.

The researcher indicated that Spain was the first country in the world to formally adopt the water footprint for water accounting and for the elaboration of planning policies. In September 2008, the General Administration of the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs approved a regulation that includes the analysis of the water footprint as a technical criterion for the development of the management river basin plans to be drafted in the context of the framework European Water Directive.

Aldaya, invited to give this lecture by the Master's Degree in Biodiversity, Landscapes and Sustainable management of the School of Sciences, also referred in the exhibition to the different components of the water footprint, the ISO14046 standard on water footprint and future challenges.