Sector-specific AWARE Factors

1. Bridging the Data Gap in the Water Scarcity Footprint by Using Crop-Specific AWARE Factors

by Anne-Marie Boulay, Léo Lenoir, Alessandro Manzardo. Article in Water · December 2019 DOI: 10.3390/w11122634

This work was supported by the WULCA Sponsors 2016-2018


The assessment of the water scarcity footprint of products emerged as an important step in supporting water management strategies. Among others, the AWARE methodology was published as a consensus-based indicator to perform such an assessment at a watershed level and monthly scale. The need to adopt such a detailed resolution, however, collides with the availability of data, so that general year and country-wide factors are commonly used. The objective of this study is to develop and verify the applicability of 26 crop-specific water scarcity characterization factors to help assess the water scarcity footprint when data and information availability is limited. To do so, a weighted average consumption approach was adopted, starting from local AWARE characterization factors and local crop-specific water consumption. The resulting factors, ranging from 0.19 m3/ton eq for “other perennial crop” in Brunei to 9997 m3/ton eq for “other annual crop” in Mauritania, illustrate the large variability of potential water scarcity impacts. Factors were applied to the water consumption of selected crops to assess their water scarcity footprint. The results of the study confirmed that the use of crop-specific factors is recommended as they are a better proxy of water scarcity in a region when compared to their national generic counterparts.

Download supplementary information

Reference to original paper:

2. Production weighted water use impact characterisation factors for the global mining industry

by Stephen Northey, Cristina Madrid Lopez, Nawshad Haque, Gavin Mudd, Mohan Yellishetty. Article in Journal of Cleaner Production · February 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.02.307

Methods for quantifying the impacts of water use within life cycle assessment have developed significantly over the past decade. These methods account for local differences in hydrology and water use contexts through the use of regionally specific impact characterisation factors. However, few studies have applied these methods to the mining industry and so there is limited understanding regarding how spatial boundaries may affect assessments of the mining industry’s consumptive water use impacts. To address this, we developed production weighted characterisation factors for 25 mineral and metal commodities based upon the spatial distribution of global mine production across watersheds and nations. Our results indicate that impact characterisation using the national average ‘Water Stress Index’ (WSI) would overestimate the water use impacts for 67% of mining operations when compared to assessments using watershed WSI values. Comparatively, national average ‘Available Water Remaining’ (AWaRe) factors would overestimate impacts for 60% of mining operations compared to assessments using watershed factors. In the absence of watershed scale inventory data, assessments may benefit from developing alternative characterisation factors reflecting the spatial distribution of commodity production across watersheds. The results also provide an indication of the commodities being mined in highly water stressed or scarce regions.

Link to original paper: