The II International Water Footprint seminar was organized by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, National Centre of Cleaner Production and the Antioquia Centre of Science and Technology. It was an excellent platform to exchange knowledge and to discuss the water footprint state of the art. Moreover, if the water footprint assessment could be incorporated as a river basin characterisation tool in the Regional Water Evaluations (ERA), currently developed by IDEAM, was thoroughly discussed.

 

A lot of interest was shown. (Courtesy SDC)

 

GSI was very happy to contribute to this discussion, by bringing knowledge, expertise and concrete case-studies. GSI also facilitated the multistakeholder water footprint workshop which took place on 1 November. Other organisations actively participating in the activities in Medellin were the Water Footprint Network, WWF, Quantis and the Botin Foundation. The latter brought the vast Spanish experience on the water footprint and policy implications.

 

Four of the speakers (from left to right): Diego Arevalo (CTA); Nicolas Franke (WFN), Erika Zarate (GSI), Diana Rojas (SDC). (Courtesy SDC)

The main achievements of the week are in our opinion to have experts from IDEAM reflecting on the benefits and challenges of incorporating the water footprint assessment to the guidelines for regional water evaluations, and their manifestation of a will to learn and continue this reflection. To have at least one representative of the ministry of Agriculture fully engaged in the discussion. To recognize that there is a range of water footprint applications and that they should complement each other. To make experts and non-experts more aware of the need to continue the rapid social and economic development of the country in a water sustainable way.

The city of Medellin. Courtesy of Diego Arevalo.

The main action points to take the discussion forward have been identified. It is a matter of distributing tasks among the Colombian experts. Today we can say that Colombians understand that the water footprint could inform water, agricultural and energy policies, however there are still some data and methodological gaps. This, together with results from the Porce river basin water footprint assessment and the SuizAgua II project, will for sure give enough materials for the III version of the event. Colombia is developing fast and it is just timely to characterize national rivers basins and to think about social and economic development from a water sustainable point of view. We at GSI will keep on participating in Colombian water footprint activities and keep on sharing results.