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Joint Carbon and Water Trading Water Footprint and
consumption of ‘Virtual’ Water
1,000 Litres in a Cubic Metre
1,000,000,000,000 Litres in a Cubic Kilometre
Litres used each year by
5,000,000,000,000,000
Agriculture
Water Footprint per person-
600 to 800 Cubic Metres
year in Poor Countries
Water Footprint per person-
2100 to 2500 Cubic Metres
year in Developed world
Water requirement equivalent of main food products
UNIT EQUIVALENT WATER (litres per unit)
Citrus Fruits Kg 1,000
Cereals Kg 1,500
Fresh Poultry Kg 6,000
Fresh Beef Kg 15,000
Sheep or Goats Head 15,000
Cattle Head 4,000,000
Source: FAO, 2003. Published in the UN World Water Development Report.
The Water Footprint concept was introduced in 2002 at the International Expert Meeting
on Virtual Water Trade, Delft, the Netherlands (Hoekstra, 2003). But what is a ‘Water
Footprint’? It was designed to illustrate the hidden links between human consumption
and water use, and between global trade and water resources management. It is an
analogue of the ecological footprint concept originating from the 1990s. Your Ecological
Footprint denotes the bio-productive area (hectares) needed to sustain a population,
the Water Footprint represents the freshwater volume (cubic metres per year) required
to sustain the same population at its’ current socio-economic standards. The Water
Footprint takes into account the source and production circumstances of society and
calculates the actual water use involved (not global averages). Your overall Water Footprint
is thus the total water resource depletion (local to global) that you are responsible for.
The table above illustrates the amount of water that is used world-wide in the production
of food (the main element of our Water Footprint) and contrasts the difference in Water
Footprints between developed and developing countries.
The concept of ‘embedded’ or ‘virtual water’ intro-
duced by Allan (1998) was designed to measure the
water consumed to produce food or consumable
underground...
items that may be imported or exported. virtual water
consumption can be massive for items that we take
for granted, for example it has been estimated that it unusual...
takes 10,850 litres of water to produce 1 pair of blue
jeans and 2,500 litres of water for a T-shirt! This
unexpected...
‘embedded’ water comes from the water it takes to
produce the cotton, mine raw materials, knit and dye
the fabric, etc. The main global trade in virtual water
is through food, including meat, grains, fresh produce,
Environmental Geotechnics Ltd -
vegetables and fruit, where the real-water content of
worldwide experience, niche solutions.
G
LE
each is negligible when compared to the virtual water
env@environmentalgeotechnics.com environmental Geotechnics Ltd
ENVIRONMENT INDUSTRY MAGAZINE
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