Water crises were identified by the World Economic Forum as the risk with the biggest impact facing economies around the world in 2015 (World Economic Forum, 2015). The growing importance of this issue is reflected in the number of water management and certification programmes, and dynamic research underway to define how to calculate water footprints of products, activities, organisations and countries. How should New Zealand primary producers respond to this emerging issue? In Ireland, the agricultural sector has developed the Origin Green programme (http://www.origingreen.ie/ ) that is engaged in supporting farmers to measure and manage their water use, as well as other environmental aspects such as carbon footprints. Is this an initiative we could follow here in New Zealand to add sustainable value to our primary products?
This Water Footprint Workshop, the fourth in a series that started in 2010, was held in Wellington on 11th November 2016. It involved presentations from ten experts on different aspects of water footprinting, and constructive discussions about the way forward. In the final workshop discussion, it was agreed there is a need for more coordinated efforts to harmonize data collection and make relevant data discoverable (ready to use) for water footprinting across the country. Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has already developed a comprehensive portal for water-related data supported by Regional Councils, and opportunities for adding data relevant to water footprinting to this nationally significant data platform (http://www.lawa.org.nz/) could be investigated. There is also a need for an accreditation scheme that will objectively demonstrate the environmental credentials of New Zealand agricultural producers and/or their products (including water use); this could be developed as a progressive scheme where producers/products can accrue “green ticks” for different environmental aspects.
Sarah McLaren and Ranvir Singh "International developments in water footprinting"
Andrew McCauley "Water management and accounting at national level"
Blair Keenan " Catchment scale water footprints"
Mark Krasnow "Water management in the wine sector"
Brent Clothier "Assessment of water use for horticultural systems"
Sandra Payen "Assessment of eutrophication in water footprinting"
Caleb Higham "Water footprint assessment of dairy farms"
Ranvir Singh and David Horne "Nutrient accounting: the relevance of the local context"
Maree Paterson "LAWA: role and development"
Anyone interested in progressing this agenda for action is invited to make contact with Sarah McLaren (firstname.lastname@example.org or (m) 021423178)), Brent Clothier (Brent.Clothier@plantandfood.co.nz) or Ranvir Singh (email@example.com).
World Economic Forum. 2015. Global Risks 2015. 10th Edition. Geneva: World Economic Forum. Available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Risks_2015_Report15.pdf