Water partners breathe new life into the Water Footprint Network

Water partners breathe new life into the Water Footprint Network

Johan Oost and Jaap Feil (Wetskills Team members) are part of the consortium that reestablishes and improves the Water Footprint Network. One of the new focuses in the business strategy is to involve Young Water Talents. Read more in the press release and here:

 

The Hague, The Netherlands, October 24, 2017
The unique cooperation of Acacia Water and entrepreneurs Johan Oost and Jaap Feil will join forces with the University of Twente to update and improve the Water Footprint Network. Expansion of the activities will take place simultaneously by incorporating a new company by the name of ‘Water Footprint Implementation’. The partners will announce this news right before the start of the Amsterdam International Water Week (from 30 October until 3 November), where the innovative concept will be represented. Preparations are currently in full swing and the concept will be fully operational starting from 1 January 2018.

The Water Footprint Network was set up in 2008 with the aim of reducing water consumption in organizations and businesses around the globe. The concept of the Water Footprint provides insight into the amount of water needed to prepare a cup of coffee, for instance. Last September, the foundation was declared bankrupt, but as a result of its relaunch, the network will continue to operate. The initiator of the Water Footprint Network, Prof. Arjen Hoekstra, is very happy with the upgrade and will continue to be closely involved. Hoekstra declared: ‘Raising awareness has been our main focus up to now, and although that is still relevant, we now want to start using this knowledge in practice in order to demonstrate that it is actually possible to reduce water consumption.’

Network and company
The process of pursuing this goal will bring a lot of changes. Two separate elements are important in this respect. First of all, the existing Water Footprint Network will be strengthened. Our ambition is to step up our efforts to bring people together in order to share knowledge in a more effective manner. Furthermore, the network will invest in professional development and training. In addition, we will launch the Water Footprint Implementation company. This is a new company that will focus on the practical implementation of the concept. We will engage advisors to perform quick scans or hot spot analyses for organizations, institutions, and companies on ways and opportunities to reduce water consumption. Subsequently, they will have to get their stakeholders on board to develop concrete problem-solving approaches and find promising solutions to implement the changes effectively. This will bring the implementation of the Water Footprint concept closer than ever before.

According to the partners, their collaboration offers a great opportunity to draw attention to the importance of water management. CEO Arjen de Vries of consultancy agency Acacia Water emphasized the urgency of this development: ‘As the availability of water resources is under increasing pressure, it is urgently necessary to change our water management strategies in organizations and society as a whole. The next important step we are about to take is to move beyond merely calculating the amount of water needed for specific purposes, and to start actually using the outcomes of the Water Footprint for the benefit of generating real, measurable results.’

Significant role for young professionals
The realization that change is necessary has made a profound impression on the younger generation, as stakeholders have noticed. For this reason, the decision was taken to allocate a significant role to young adults. Johan Oost, whose titles include that of managing director of Wetskills (an organization for young professionals and students in the global water sector), stated: ‘We will reserve a central role for young professionals in the business strategy. This decision was partly prompted by the fact that young adults generally feel a deep commitment to addressing water and climate issues and are interested in the Water Footprint. This tool is extremely useful to visualize the water management and climate change challenges. We hope that this concrete concept will enable us to expand our network, and to motivate students from all over the world to tackle water management issues together, thinking outside the box in order to generate greater impact.’

According to Jaap Feil, serving among other positions as director of the National Water Traineeship (young professionals programme within the Dutch water sector), the Water Footprint dovetails nicely with the ambitions of his organization: ‘We train young talents for a career in the water sector and offer them jobs at institutions and commercial companies. What motivates us is the fact that young people have the ability to find creative solutions to the water sector challenges. This initiative is in perfect alignment with our goals and ambitions. It will help us to redouble our efforts towards sustainable water management.’

Johan Oost

Managing Director Wetskills Foundation