Progress in Water Footprint Assessment: Towards Collective Action in Water Governance

Arjen Y. Hoekstra*, Ashok K. Chapagain, Pieter R. Van Oel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)


We introduce ten studies in the field of water footprint assessment (WFA) that are representative of the type of papers currently being published in this broad interdisciplinary field. WFA is the study of freshwater use, scarcity, and pollution in relation to consumption, production, and trade patterns. The reliable availability of sufficient and clean water is critical in sustaining the supply of food, energy, and various manufactured goods. Collective and coordinated action at different levels and along all stages of commodity supply chains is necessary to bring about more sustainable, efficient, and equitable water use. In order to position the papers of this volume, we introduce a spectrum for collective action that can give insight in the various ways different actors can contribute to the reduction of the water footprint of human activities. The papers cover different niches in this large spectrum, focusing on different scales of governance and different stages in the supply chain of products. As for future research, we conclude that more research is needed on how actions at different spatial levels and how the different players along supply chains can create the best synergies to make the water footprint of our production and consumption patterns more sustainable
Original languageEnglish
Article number1070
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Consumption
  • International trade
  • Multi-level governance
  • River basin management
  • Sustainability
  • Value chain
  • Water accounting
  • Water footprint assessment
  • Water footprint benchmarks
  • Water productivity


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