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Water Footprint Score: A practical method for wider communication and assessment of Water Footprint performance
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1  University of Ioannina, UOI


Water Footprint (WF) as a measure of water use and pollution during a product’s life cycle has proved to be a valuable tool for assessing water management efficiency of human production and consumption patterns. Its application in agriculture, identifies deficiencies in applied irrigation schemes and cultivation practices providing the basis for drawing sustainable water management strategies at river basin or at farm level.

Despite its wide application by scientists and policy makers there is a gap in farmers’ and consumers’ uptake mainly due to its interpretation approach. The WF value of an agricultural product, as a sole number, if not further analysed, provides little information regarding farmers’ cultivation and water management practices applied. Furthermore, WF computation method based on site and year specific information complicates its comparability.

Communication of a product’s environmental performance to the wider public is a core issue in the growing global market of green products. In the present study we propose a simple and practical method for assessing and communicating in a single score WF performance of an agricultural product. We introduce the concept of “Water Footprint Score”, a comprehensive and comparable indicator of farmer’s water resources management performance which can be incorporated in agricultural products’ labels. Water Footprint Score as the outcome of the comparison with a Water Footprint Annual Reference Level, is a spatiotemporally comparable metric that reflects the convergence to best irrigation and cultivation practices and can be easily adopted by both farmers and consumers. Examples of Water Footprint Score computation for two different agricultural products cultivated in the plain of Arta (NW Greece), kiwi fruits and table olives, are provided.

Keywords: Water Footprint Annual Reference Level, Water Footprint labeling, kiwi fruit, table olives