The Glasgow Declaration for Fair Water Footprints, a step to transform the way the world’s water resources are managed, was launched at COP26.
The declaration has been developed in a partnership comprising of governments from the global north and south, the private sector, financial institutions and civil society signatories.
It calls for collaborative action to transform how the global economy interacts with the water environment and the resilience of local communities. Launching the declaration,
Nick Hepworth, Executive Director of Water Witness International, said that “it marks the beginning of the end for the abuse of water, nature, and people in our globalised supply chains, which pushes the most vulnerable further into climate catastrophe”.
Investors and multinationals currently influence as much as 70 Percent of the world’s water through farming, mining and manufacturing processes. This contributes to the over-exploitation and pollution of water resources, denying local people access to safe water and exposing them to climate impacts and disease.
Declaration signatories will be accountable for specific actions to improve water management and secure fair water footprints – the water used to produce the food, clothes and goods we consume – by 2030.
These actions include eliminating water pollution and over-extraction from rivers and aquifers, improving flood and drought risk management, and driving universal access to safe water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.
“Water sustains life on earth and is vital to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees,” said UK Minister of State Zac Goldsmith, who signed the declaration on behalf of the UK government.
“But how we manage our water to produce the food, clothes and goods we consume, shapes water and climate security for millions of people across the globe. Similarly, if we fail to protect the ecosystems that provide clean water, we will always be playing a desperate game of catch-up.”
Over 60 Percent of the water needed to produce the UK’s food, clothing and consumer goods is used overseas – often in water-stressed countries facing severe climate challenges. Signatories include the governments of the UK, Austria, Finland, Madagascar, Malawi, Panama, and Peru, who will work with multinational corporations and investment companies such as Unilever, Diageo and ACTIAM, and civil society organisations, including Water Witness International, CDP and WaterAid. Funding has already been committed to the initiative by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and others. Partners will report against agreed indicators and will meet to review and accelerate progress at least annually.