The Way of Water


The Way of Water


We all know what a carbon footprint is, but what about a water footprint? Similar to calculating carbon emissions, measuring a company’s water consumption can help all producers learn about their resource dependency and plot a course for addressing water-related business risks.

Water is one of the most important resources on earth. It’s the starting point for life, the carrier and regulator of ecosystems, and a landscape designer. It is a transport medium, an energy supplier and creates space for recreation and more.

Right now, we are seriously off track to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clear Water and Sanitation (UN SDG 6). An estimated 780 million people, equaling 10% of the world’s population, as well as countless schools, health centers, farms, factories and businesses, live without accessible clean water.

This year’s World Water Day, which celebrated its 30th anniversary on March 22, is intended to focus on the importance of national and international cooperation in achieving SDG 6, which should be no longer a privilege to some people but for all by 2030.

According to the Water Footprint Network and WWF, more than 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water stress and/or scarcity conditions by 2025. Changing climatic conditions are affecting the global water cycle, leading to an increasing number and intensification of devastating extreme weather events like floods or drought. Countries in the Global South are particularly affected by this. Not only is there a certain vulnerability due to their geographical location, but there is often a lack of funds for coping measures, which is linked to global inequality.

A business’s water footprint is a measurement of the total water consumed to produce the goods and services it provides. It is a combination of the water that goes into production and manufacturing of a product or service and the water used throughout the supply chain, as well as during the use of the product.

While the price of water is rarely a driving force, many companies are waking to the fact that water is a crucial resource in their operations and supply chains, regardless of whether they sell food, electronics, clothing or lubricants.

Water monitoring is particularly important for businesses—lubricant manufacturers included—that need to focus on water as an important sustainability key performance indicator, besides energy consumption, waste generation and CO2 emissions. 

This year is the 20th anniversary of World Water Monitoring Day, which aims to build public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by empowering citizens to carry out basic monitoring of their local water bodies. It encourages participants to conduct their monitoring activities during any period between World Water Day and December of each year.

In terms of measurement, the Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard, developed by the Water Footprint Network, lays out an internationally accepted methodology for conducting a Water Footprint Assessment.

Currently, James Cameron’s AVATAR-sequel breaks all records at the box offices globally. His movie tells the fictional story of a family’s fight to survive. In order for industries to survive and even thrive, knowing what a water footprint is and how it relates to products, along the process and value chain of businesses, one must understand The Way of Water.

STAY SuSTAYnable!  

Apu Gosalia is a sustainability expert. He can be reached at

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