Fair water footprints is emerging as a focal point for conservation campaigners in the run-up to the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow next month.
The UK, Swiss and Dutch governments have joined forces with Water Witness to draw up a draft resolution they hope will be signed at Cop26 that promotes a commitment to clean and environmentally sustainable water supplies.
“Fair water footprints mean zero pollution, extracting water sustainably and allocating it equitably, making sure workers have safe water, sanitation and hygiene, planning for droughts floods and water conflict and harnessing the power of nature,” said Zac Goldsmith, UK's Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment.
“Despite attracting a minuscule percentage of global investment, many of the best and most cost-effective solutions to the biggest challenges we face, including the water and climate crises, are found in protecting and restoring natural systems.”
The draft declaration for fair water footprints demands “access to safe water and sanitation are basic human rights for all”.
The draft declaration would commit signatories to taking all necessary steps to reach zero water pollution, to focus on sustainable withdrawal of water and protect ecosystems.
"We commit to establishing a fair water footprint as the business norm by scaling up and accelerating credible water stewardship at farms, factories and production sites, across supply chains, cities, catchments, company operations and investment portfolios," it says.
It said climate change was projected to further pressures on global water, including monsoon rains and dry seasons.
Human activity has also caused natural freshwater and marine ecosystems to decline, with inland waters, wetlands and freshwater ecosystems showing the greatest and most rapidly accelerating rates of decline, Water Witness said.
It added the current rate of progress towards water-related climate change goals and targets needed to speed up.
“We have put nature at the heart of Cop26," Lord Goldsmith said.
"With just a few weeks before the conference in Glasgow we are asking you to help us and I hope we can finalise the draft declaration, and we can commit to setting targets throughout the decade and the policy and finances we will need to achieve them.”