SuizAgua Colombia: Water footprint put into practice

Project completed
Four children posing with their diploma of "guardian of water"
Graduation day: A group of friends are now water guardians. Environmental education program in Lagunitas school (Tausa, Cundinamarca). © Insitu, Diego Cifuentes Insitu, Diego Cifuentes

The project applies the water footprint (WFP) indicator to monitor and improve water use and to reduce the impacts of the business sector. Companies in Colombia have endorsed a corporate social and environmental responsibility plan that includes steps to improve their water management. Additionally, a multi-sector approach is used for the application of the WFP in Porce river watershed.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Switzerland
Colombia
Water
Education
Vocational training
Water resources conservation
Basic life skills
Vocational training
01.06.2012 - 31.05.2015
CHF 1'018'000

The companies finance the investments required to reduce their water footprints. SDC‘s contribution supports the building and transfer of know-how and provides scientific s support to the development of the WFP ISO norm.

From pilot project to scaling-up of achievements

Given the increased need for methods to assess, reduce and monitor the impacts of water use, and the growing interest in the water footprint concept, SDC has forged public-private partnerships with major companies, research centres and environmental authorities to launch a pilot project which has the potential to go global.
The pilot project has become a platform for the exchange of experiences gained in applying the WFP – a concept previously unknown to the local stakeholders. Private- and public-sector actors have developed great interest in the concept and are increasingly willing to invest in it. Today, the project contributes to the Colombian policy dialogue on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) as well as to regional and global policy discussions. It also represents a great achievement in the fairer allocation of available water resources through the promotion, development and adoption of the WFP concept.

Public-private development partnerships with Swiss companies

The project started with four Swiss companies with the aim of evaluating and reducing their water footprint. Special attention is given to their water usage in factories as well as along the production chain. In addition to reducing their water footprint, the companies support water-focused social responsibility activities, mainly in the communities close to their production plants.
Based on the initial achievements, the approach now includes seven Colombian companies; new corporate social responsibility projects and knowledge transfer to the SuizAgua Andina project (Peru and Chile) are underway. Regular key procedural and scientific exchanges between the ISO norm developers and the SuizAgua partners are fostered.

Expected results

By 2014, the project expects to have accomplished:

  • The development and transfer of knowledge to institutions (Center of Science and Technology and National Centre for Cleaner Production in response to the growing demand for WFP-related services.
  • The specific application and practical use of the WFP concept at river basin level, together with the production and dissemination of public policy guidelines;
  • The consolidation of ownership and sustained implementation by the companies.