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Desertification Indicator System for Mediterranean Europe

1. Definition



Brief definition

Annual water consumption by domestic use, industry use, agriculture use and other sectors expressed in cubic metres per year and as a percentage of total water consumption.

Unit of measure

Cubic metres per year, %

2. Position within the logical framework DPSIR

Type of Indicator

Driving Force

3. Target and political pertinence


The purpose of this indicator is to monitor performance of individual business sectors both as an absolute value and as a percentage of total consumption. With the aim to safeguard water resources, the indicator is useful to identify which sector requires greater attention and to develop measures for specific business sectors as a benchmark for measuring future progress.

Importance with respect to desertification

Water is a renewable, but finite, resource, which is vital for combating desertification and drought. A key sustainable development objective is to safeguard the water resources and ensure that the availability of affordable public water supplies is provided in ways which protect the environment. This objective requires a better water management and specific measures for each sector. This indicator provides information about efficient ways of managing risk associated with drought, and provides an economic perspective on the efficient allocation of water between users.

International Conventions and agreements

A part the UNCCD, Article 130 of the Treaty on the European Union (Maastricht, 1992) calls for prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources. UN GEMS/Water introduces a Global Environment Monitoring System for water. UN EMINWA calls for an environmentally sound management of inland waters. Action plan Mar del Plata (1977) calls for sustainable use of water resources (UN Water Conference). The Declaration of New Delhi calls for provision of drinking water for all. IAP/WASAD gives the FAO International Action Plan for Water use in relation with Sustainable Agricultural Development.

Agenda 21 in many of its chapters, in particular Chapter 12 and 18, calls for policies and actions to improve the management and use of water resources.

Secondary objectives of the indicator

This indicator represents a fundamental indicator for regional and national decision- makers to improve sustainable uses of water resources.

4. Methodological description and basic definitions

Definitions and basic concepts

This indicator measures the level of water use by different sectors of the local economy and the share of water use by each sector as a percentage of the total.

Benchmarks Indication of the values/ranges of value

The optimal use of renewable resources requires that human use is not greater than the natural regeneration. This information is measured by "exploitation index" that is defined as withdrawal of conventional freshwater resources (surface and groundwater) over total renewable resources (expressed in %).

Methods of measurement

To obtain the absolute value, the indicator is computed by calculating the level of water use by domestic, industry, agriculture and other sectors (that includes private and public services); to obtain the percentage of total consumption by each sector the indicator is computed by dividing the consumption of each sector by the total water consumption.

Limits of the indicator

The indicator does not give information about the efficiency of water use by each sector.

Linkages with other indicators

The indicator is linked with other indicators relating to water and economy, such as Water availability, Value added by sector.

5. Evaluation of data needs and availability

Data required to calculate the indicator

Consumption of water by domestic use, industry use, agricultural use and services; total water consumption.

Data sources

National data and estimates on water use are available from national statistical offices and country publications for many countries. At local level the data sources are the institutions that manage the local hydrographic basin.

Availability of data from national and international sources

See section Data sources. Apart from national statistical agencies, the data at national level are also available from Eurostat, FAO and OECD.

6. Institutions that have participated in developing the indicator

Main institutions responsible


Other contributing organizations

Universities of Basilicata, Lisbon, Murcia, Athens.

7. Additional information


www.ec.gc.ca/scip-pidd/english/indicatorInfo.cfm? Indicatorname=20: Sustainable Community Indicators: Index and Indicators

www.sustainable-cities.org http://cwhweb.mcmaster.ca/cwsoe/documents/APP2.htm : List of measures and Indicators used in Municipal SoERs

www.oecd.org/env/efficiency; Indicator sheets/ Interaction between consumption and the environment; ENV/EPOCSE(98)2/FINAL

www.sustainableliving.org/appen-d.htm : Indicators o sustainable development 1996 - Background Paper

Other references

Eurostat (1997) Indicators of Sustainable Development. European Comunities, Luxembourg

Contacts Name and address

University of Basilicata
Prof Giovanni Quaranta
email: quaranta@unibas.it