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WWAP Report Compares Carbon and Water Footprints

August 2012: The World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has released a report, titled “Carbon and Water Footprints: Concepts, Methodologies and Policy Responses,” which highlights the differences in methodological rigor between water and carbon footprints, noting that they are often treated similarly by policy-makers.

The report emphasizes the “strict definition and methodology” behind the water footprint, in contrast to “lack of universal guidelines and ambiguity” in carbon footprints. It examines the origins of carbon and water footprints, compares their methodologies and responses, and identifies lessons learned and conclusions.

The report concludes that: universal guidelines, definitions and methodologies increase credibility; policies to reduce dependency on energy and water are necessary, in tandem with improved water and carbon efficiency; offsetting can be misused in carbon footprints; regulation can be an effective means of reducing carbon and water footprints; cross-cutting policies addressing poverty reduction, land-use and food security should be integrated into water and carbon footprint reduction strategies; and political leadership is required. [Publication: Carbon and Water Footprints: Concepts, Methodologies and Policy Responses] [WWAP Press Release]