, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 451-455
Date: 28 Aug 2008

Water use in LCA: managing the planet’s freshwater resources

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Setting the scene

Freshwater is one of the planet’s most valuable resources being an essential life-sustaining element which cannot be substituted. Acting as the source of drinking water and the basis for hygiene and food supply, it is indispensable for humans, while at the same time ensuring biodiversity and pivotal ecosystem functions on which ultimately we all depend. We are witnessing a steadily worsening situation of rapidly decreasing freshwater resource availability which threatens 1.1 billion people around the globe lacking sufficient access to safe drinking water (UN 2006). Spreading water scarcity in many regions of the world endangers food production (about 70% of today’s global freshwater consumption feeds agriculture!), puts food security at risk, and burdens human health due to malnutrition (e.g., in Asia and Africa). The overexploitation of surface water bodies and (fossil) groundwater for the soaring agricultural production (e.g., in China, India, Western USA) may jeopar