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Special Issue "Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Arjen Y. Hoekstra

Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +31-53-489-5377
Interests: water resources management; water footprint assessment; sustainable development; water-food-energy nexus
Guest Editor
Dr. Ashok K. Chapagain

Water Footprint Network
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +31 53 489 5377
Interests: water resources management; water footprint assessment; irrigation
Guest Editor
Dr. Guoping Zhang

Water Footprint Network
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +31 53 489 5377
Interests: water resources management; water footprint assessment; hydrology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water Footprint Assessment is a quickly growing research field. This Special Issue is open to papers advancing the field or showing innovative applications. We particularly welcome papers that address the sustainability, efficiency and equity of water footprints—for instance papers on water footprint caps, water footprint benchmarks and fair sharing—and papers addressing applications and water footprint reduction measures and strategies. Applications may be geographic (from field and catchment to global scale) or oriented towards specific products, sectors or companies. In the public sector, an interesting question is for example how Water Footprint Assessment can be embedded in Integrated Water Resources Management and support the development of policies that drive towards sustainable allocation and use of freshwater resources. In the private sector, it is interesting to examine how Water Footprint Assessment can contribute to the identification of water risks in a company’s operations and supply chain, and help a company to develop good water stewardship practice. We also welcome papers that establish links between water footprints, international trade and product transparency or labeling and papers that link water footprints to other environmental footprints like the ecological, carbon or material footprint.

Prof. Dr. Arjen Y. Hoekstra
Dr. Ashok K. Chapagain
Dr. Guoping Zhang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water footprint assessment;
  • water allocation;
  • sustainable water use;
  • water use efficiency;
  • equitable water use;
  • river basin management;
  • maximum sustainable water footprints;
  • virtual water trade;
  • corporate water risk and stewardship;
  • water footprint reduction strategies

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation
Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 20; doi:10.3390/su8010020
Received: 23 December 2015 / Revised: 23 December 2015 / Accepted: 23 December 2015 / Published: 25 December 2015
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (164 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) is a quickly growing research field. This Special Issue contains a selection of papers advancing the field or showing innovative applications. The first seven papers are geographic WFA studies, from an urban to a continental scale; the next five
[...] Read more.
Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) is a quickly growing research field. This Special Issue contains a selection of papers advancing the field or showing innovative applications. The first seven papers are geographic WFA studies, from an urban to a continental scale; the next five papers have a global scope; the final five papers focus on water sustainability from the business point of view. The collection of papers shows that the historical picture of a town relying on its hinterland for its supply of water and food is no longer true: the water footprint of urban consumers is global. It has become clear that wise water governance is no longer the exclusive domain of government, even though water is and will remain a public resource with government in a primary role. With most water being used for producing our food and other consumer goods, and with product supply chains becoming increasingly complex and global, there is a growing awareness that consumers, companies and investors also have a key role. The interest in sustainable water use grows quickly, in both civil society and business communities, but the poor state of transparency of companies regarding their direct and indirect water use implies that there is still a long way to go before we can expect that companies effectively contribute to making water footprints more sustainable at a relevant scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle The Evaluation of Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Utilization in Beijing
Sustainability 2015, 7(10), 13206-13221; doi:10.3390/su71013206
Received: 5 June 2015 / Revised: 24 August 2015 / Accepted: 22 September 2015 / Published: 25 September 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (826 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The water footprint approach is superior to the traditional approaches applied in water management. The water footprint can be regarded as a comprehensive indicator of freshwater resources appropriation, next to the traditional and restricted measure of water withdrawal. This study took the megacity
[...] Read more.
The water footprint approach is superior to the traditional approaches applied in water management. The water footprint can be regarded as a comprehensive indicator of freshwater resources appropriation, next to the traditional and restricted measure of water withdrawal. This study took the megacity of Beijing in North China as a case study to evaluate the sustainability of water utilization by calculating the water footprint in 2007 and 2010, based on real and virtual water consumption. The results show that the water footprint of the inhabitants of Beijing is decreasing, while the degree of water import dependency is increasing. Although the pressure of water scarcity in Beijing was slightly alleviated, the current situation of water shortage remains an enormous challenge, as the water footprint per capita is nearly 10 times higher than the water resources available. Therefore, water utilization in Beijing remains unsustainable. The improvement of water resources utilization efficiency, that encompasses water saving, is proposed as a key measure in the mitigation of water shortage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
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Open AccessArticle The Environmental Sustainability of Nations: Benchmarking the Carbon, Water and Land Footprints against Allocated Planetary Boundaries
Sustainability 2015, 7(8), 11285-11305; doi:10.3390/su70811285
Received: 18 May 2015 / Revised: 10 August 2015 / Accepted: 12 August 2015 / Published: 19 August 2015
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1699 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Growing scientific evidence for the indispensable role of environmental sustainability in sustainable development calls for appropriate frameworks and indicators for environmental sustainability assessment (ESA). In this paper, we operationalize and update the footprint-boundary ESA framework, with a particular focus on its methodological and
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Growing scientific evidence for the indispensable role of environmental sustainability in sustainable development calls for appropriate frameworks and indicators for environmental sustainability assessment (ESA). In this paper, we operationalize and update the footprint-boundary ESA framework, with a particular focus on its methodological and application extensions to the national level. By using the latest datasets available, the planetary boundaries for carbon emissions, water use and land use are allocated to 28 selected countries in comparison to the corresponding environmental footprints. The environmental sustainability ratio (ESR)—an internationally comparable indicator representing the sustainability gap between contemporary anthropogenic interference and critical capacity thresholds—allows one to map the reserve or transgression of the nation-specific environmental boundaries. While the geographical distribution of the three ESRs varies across nations, in general, the worldwide unsustainability of carbon emissions is largely driven by economic development, while resource endowments play a more central role in explaining national performance on water and land use. The main value added of this paper is to provide concrete evidence of the usefulness of the proposed framework in allocating overall responsibility for environmental sustainability to sub-global scales and in informing policy makers about the need to prevent the planet’s environment from tipping into an undesirable state. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle The Water Footprint of Data Centers
Sustainability 2015, 7(8), 11260-11284; doi:10.3390/su70811260
Received: 16 June 2015 / Revised: 5 August 2015 / Accepted: 12 August 2015 / Published: 18 August 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1537 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The internet and associated Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are diffusing at an astounding pace. As data centers (DCs) proliferate to accommodate this rising demand, their environmental impacts grow too. While the energy efficiency of DCs has been researched extensively, their water footprint
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The internet and associated Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are diffusing at an astounding pace. As data centers (DCs) proliferate to accommodate this rising demand, their environmental impacts grow too. While the energy efficiency of DCs has been researched extensively, their water footprint (WF) has so far received little to no attention. This article conducts a preliminary WF accounting for cooling and energy consumption in DCs. The WF of DCs is estimated to be between 1047 and 151,061 m3/TJ. Outbound DC data traffic generates a WF of 1–205 liters per gigabyte (roughly equal to the WF of 1 kg of tomatos at the higher end). It is found that, typically, energy consumption constitues by far the greatest share of DC WF, but the level of uncertainty associated with the WF of different energy sources used by DCs makes a comprehensive assessment of DCs’ water use efficiency very challenging. Much better understanding of DC WF is urgently needed if a meaningful evaluation of this rapidly spreading service technology is to be gleaned and response measures are to be put into effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
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Open AccessArticle The Hydro-Economic Interdependency of Cities: Virtual Water Connections of the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan Area
Sustainability 2015, 7(7), 8522-8547; doi:10.3390/su7078522
Received: 24 March 2015 / Revised: 24 June 2015 / Accepted: 24 June 2015 / Published: 30 June 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (846 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Water footprinting has revealed hydro-economic interdependencies between distant global geographies via trade, especially of agricultural and manufactured goods. However, for metropolitan areas, trade not only entails commodity flows at many scales from intra-municipal to global, but also substantial intra-metropolitan flows of the skilled
[...] Read more.
Water footprinting has revealed hydro-economic interdependencies between distant global geographies via trade, especially of agricultural and manufactured goods. However, for metropolitan areas, trade not only entails commodity flows at many scales from intra-municipal to global, but also substantial intra-metropolitan flows of the skilled labor that is essential to a city’s high-value economy. Virtual water flows between municipalities are directly relevant for municipal water supply policy and infrastructure investment because they quantify the hydro-economic dependency between neighboring municipalities. These municipalities share a physical water supply and also place demands on their neighbors’ water supplies by outsourcing labor and commodity production outside the municipal and water supply system boundary to the metropolitan area. Metropolitan area communities span dense urban cores to fringe agricultural towns, spanning a wide range of the US hydro-economy. This study quantifies water footprints and virtual water flows of the complete economy of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area’s municipalities. A novel approach utilized journey to work data to estimate virtual water flows embedded in labor. Commodities dominate virtual water flows at all scales of analysis, however labor is shown to be important for intra-metropolitan virtual water flows. This is the first detailed water footprint analysis of Phoenix, an important city in a water-scarce region. This study establishes a hydro-economic typology for communities to define several niche roles and decision making points of view. This study’s findings can be used to classify communities with respect to their relative roles, and to benchmark future improvements in water sustainability for all types of communities. More importantly, these findings motivate cooperative approaches to intra-metropolitan water supply policy that recognize the hydro-economic interdependence of these municipalities and their shared interest in ensuring a sustainable and resilient hydro-economy for all members of the metropolitan area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle The Water Footprint of Agriculture in Duero River Basin
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6759-6780; doi:10.3390/su7066759
Received: 28 February 2015 / Revised: 15 May 2015 / Accepted: 19 May 2015 / Published: 28 May 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (6292 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to evaluate the green, blue and grey water footprint (WF) of crops in the Duero river basin. For this purpose CWUModel was developed. CWUModel is able to estimate the green and blue water consumed by crops and
[...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to evaluate the green, blue and grey water footprint (WF) of crops in the Duero river basin. For this purpose CWUModel was developed. CWUModel is able to estimate the green and blue water consumed by crops and the water needed to assimilate the nitrogen leaching resulting from fertilizer application. The total WF of crops in the Spanish Duero river basin was simulated as 9473 Mm3/year (59% green, 20% blue and 21% grey). Cultivation of crops in rain-fed lands is responsible for 5548 Mm3/year of the WF (86% green and 14% grey), whereas the irrigated WF accounts for 3924 Mm3/year (20% green, 47% blue and 33% grey). Barley is the crop with the highest WF, with almost 37% of the total WF for the crops simulated for the basin, followed by wheat (17%). Although maize makes up 16% of the total WF of the basin, the blue and grey components comprise the 36% of the total blue and grey WF in the basin. The relevance of green water goes beyond the rain-fed production, to the extent that in long-cycle irrigated cereals it accounts for over 40% of the total water consumed. Nonetheless, blue water is a key component in agriculture, both for production and economically. The sustainability assessment shows that the current blue water consumption of crops causes a significant or severe water stress level in 2–5 months of the year. The anticipated expansion of irrigation in the coming years could hamper water management, despite the Duero being a relatively humid basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Unlocking the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” of Corporate Water Stewardship in South Africa—Exploring Corporate Power and Legitimacy of Engagement in Water Management and Governance
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6893-6918; doi:10.3390/su7066893
Received: 6 March 2015 / Revised: 19 May 2015 / Accepted: 21 May 2015 / Published: 28 May 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (728 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Corporate water stewardship, i.e., proactive water-using corporate engagement in water management and governance, has been hailed as a solution to global water challenges. However, it has also aroused criticism and skepticism, as it has been feared to lead to private securitization of
[...] Read more.
Corporate water stewardship, i.e., proactive water-using corporate engagement in water management and governance, has been hailed as a solution to global water challenges. However, it has also aroused criticism and skepticism, as it has been feared to lead to private securitization of resources and institutional capture especially in locations with weak public institutions and regulation. This article tackles this “prisoner’s dilemma” of corporate water stewardship by exploring when and how it is legitimate considering the private nature of corporations and their power to change water management and governance processes and their outcomes. An analytical framework is constructed based on a literature review and applied into a case-study of corporations active in water stewardship initiatives in South Africa. The case-study findings suggest that the stewardship agenda would benefit from (1) a more open acknowledgement of power asymmetries between corporations and other parties; (2) more careful and systematic evaluation and enhancement of legitimacy of corporations to engage in public good and common pool water resources in the first place; and (3) stewardship actions should support stronger public institutions and especially civil society to equally participate. The research community is called in to scrutinize and facilitate the multi-actor water governance processes, which include corporations to assist in the effort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Business Engagement with Sustainable Water Resource Management through Water Footprint Accounting: The Case of the Barilla Company
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6742-6758; doi:10.3390/su7066742
Received: 28 February 2015 / Revised: 12 May 2015 / Accepted: 14 May 2015 / Published: 27 May 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (4289 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study investigates business engagement in sustainable water management, focusing on water footprint accounting as a tool to account for water use in food supply chains. An explorative analysis is conducted on the Barilla Company. The study explores two corporate strategies aimed at
[...] Read more.
This study investigates business engagement in sustainable water management, focusing on water footprint accounting as a tool to account for water use in food supply chains. An explorative analysis is conducted on the Barilla Company. The study explores two corporate strategies aimed at achieving more sustainable water use: the adoption of environmental products declarations (EPDs), a reporting system that accounts for the environmental footprints of Barilla’s pasta and other products; and the implementation of the Aureo Wheat Programme. The study deployed both primary and secondary data. The study shows that the largest share of the water footprint of pasta relates to the cultivation phase (over 90%), which is almost fully rainfed. EPDs show that the water footprint of the other phases of the supply chain is negligible. It is argued that the use of water footprinting in EPDs can raise awareness about water use in agricultural supply chains to reach a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including consumers. The study also shows that the implementation of the Aureo Wheat Programme, consisting of a shift in cultivation site and in the type of wheat, enabled a reduction in the blue water footprint of pasta, with water savings amounting to 35 million m3 of blue water since 2011. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle The Water Footprint of Food Aid
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6435-6456; doi:10.3390/su7066435
Received: 26 February 2015 / Revised: 30 April 2015 / Accepted: 15 May 2015 / Published: 26 May 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (531 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Food aid is a critical component of the global food system, particularly when emergency situations arise. For the first time, we evaluate the water footprint of food aid. To do this, we draw on food aid data from theWorld Food Programme and virtual
[...] Read more.
Food aid is a critical component of the global food system, particularly when emergency situations arise. For the first time, we evaluate the water footprint of food aid. To do this, we draw on food aid data from theWorld Food Programme and virtual water content estimates from WaterStat. We find that the total water footprint of food aid was 10 km3 in 2005, which represents approximately 0.5% of the water footprint of food trade and 2.0% of the water footprint of land grabbing (i.e., water appropriation associated with large agricultural land deals). The United States is by far the largest food aid donor and contributes 82% of the water footprint of food aid. The countries that receive the most water embodied in aid are Ethiopia, Sudan, North Korea, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Notably, we find that there is significant overlap between countries that receive food aid and those that have their land grabbed. Multivariate regression results indicate that donor water footprints are driven by political and environmental variables, whereas recipient water footprints are driven by land grabbing and food indicators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
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Open AccessArticle Saving the Planet’s Climate or Water Resources? The Trade-Off between Carbon and Water Footprints of European Biofuels
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6665-6683; doi:10.3390/su7066665
Received: 2 March 2015 / Revised: 13 May 2015 / Accepted: 19 May 2015 / Published: 26 May 2015
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (2888 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Little information regarding the global water footprint of biofuels consumed in Europe is available. Therefore, the ultimate origin of feedstock underlying European biodiesel and bioethanol consumption was investigated and combined with the irrigation requirements of different crops in different countries. A (blue) water
[...] Read more.
Little information regarding the global water footprint of biofuels consumed in Europe is available. Therefore, the ultimate origin of feedstock underlying European biodiesel and bioethanol consumption was investigated and combined with the irrigation requirements of different crops in different countries. A (blue) water consumption of 1.9 m3 in 12 countries per GJ of European biodiesel and 3.3 m3 in 23 countries per GJ of bioethanol was determined. Even though this represents an increase by a factor of 60 and 40 compared to fossil diesel and gasoline, these figures are low compared to global average data. The assessment of local consequences has shown that the irrigation of sunflower seed in Spain causes 50% of the impacts resulting from biodiesel—even though it constitutes only 0.9% of the feedstock. In case of bioethanol production, the irrigation of sugar cane in Egypt, which constitutes only 0.7% of the underlying feedstock, causes 20% of the impacts. In a case study on passenger cars, it was shown that biofuels can reduce the global warming potential by circa 50% along the product life cycle. However, the price of this improvement is an approximate 19 times increased water consumption, and resulting local impacts are even more severe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Using Water Footprints for Examining the Sustainable Development of Science Parks
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5521-5541; doi:10.3390/su7055521
Received: 5 February 2015 / Revised: 24 April 2015 / Accepted: 4 May 2015 / Published: 7 May 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (744 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Hsinchu Science Park was established in Taiwan in the 1980s, replacing traditional industries with high value-added and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become one of the Newly-Industrialized Economies (NIEs). However, the continued expansion of high-tech enterprises in science parks requires large amounts of
[...] Read more.
The Hsinchu Science Park was established in Taiwan in the 1980s, replacing traditional industries with high value-added and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become one of the Newly-Industrialized Economies (NIEs). However, the continued expansion of high-tech enterprises in science parks requires large amounts of resources to be consumed, deteriorating the quality of the environment, for which society must pay a high cost. In this study, the input-output model was used to explore the water footprints of the Hsinchu Science Park. The study results revealed that among the six industries at the Hsinchu Science Park, the integrated circuit industry (whether in 2001, 2004, or 2006) had the lowest total water consumption per unit of output. From a water footprint perspective, compared with the other industries of the science park, the development of the integrated circuit industry has had a lower impact on the environment. Furthermore, the integrated circuit industry, precision machinery industry, and biotechnology industry have become increasingly dependent on foreign water resources to alleviate the water shortage in Taiwan. In contrast to previous studies on water consumption, this study incorporated indirect water usage into the analysis; thus, a comprehensive view of the water consumption of each industry was analyzed from a broad perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Changing Patterns of Global Agri-Food Trade and the Economic Efficiency of Virtual Water Flows
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5542-5563; doi:10.3390/su7055542
Received: 25 February 2015 / Revised: 29 April 2015 / Accepted: 4 May 2015 / Published: 7 May 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (3428 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
International agri-food trade has expanded rapidly during the past decades and changed considerably in structure with important implications, especially for developing economies. One of the main environmental concerns regarding international trade is the exploitation and redistribution of water resources. In this paper, we
[...] Read more.
International agri-food trade has expanded rapidly during the past decades and changed considerably in structure with important implications, especially for developing economies. One of the main environmental concerns regarding international trade is the exploitation and redistribution of water resources. In this paper, we use the virtual water approach for analyzing the relationship between global agri-food trade, its structure and virtual water flows in the period of 1986–2011. Specifically, for five regions and the world, we calculate growth rates of interregional trade values and virtual water volumes, the contribution of different product groups to trade and the economic water efficiency of imports and exports. Our findings show that, over time, trade values have generally increased more rapidly than virtual water volumes. In Africa and Southern America, virtual water outflows have roughly quadrupled since 1986. In all regions, staples and industrial products account for the largest share in virtual water trade. The recent shift towards high-value exports is beneficial for low-income countries from a regional economic water efficiency perspective due to high trade values and low associated virtual water volumes. Economic water efficiency of trade has increased in all regions since 2000 and the return to virtual water outflows is especially high in Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle A Decomposition and Comparison Analysis of International Water Footprint Time Series
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5304-5320; doi:10.3390/su7055304
Received: 9 January 2015 / Revised: 17 April 2015 / Accepted: 27 April 2015 / Published: 30 April 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1641 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper deals with the construction, decomposition and comparison of water footprint time series in 40 countries and one aggregate macro-region, in the period 1995–2009. The analysis of the different “footpaths” allows us to investigate the possible causes behind the time evolution of
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This paper deals with the construction, decomposition and comparison of water footprint time series in 40 countries and one aggregate macro-region, in the period 1995–2009. The analysis of the different “footpaths” allows us to investigate the possible causes behind the time evolution of water footprints in the various countries. We notice that the physical and economic impact of economic growth on water resources has been significantly lower than what it could have been, for several reasons. First, both production and consumption patterns are shifting away from water-intensive goods. Second, a large part of consumed water is actually not blue water, susceptible to alternative uses. Finally, we do not find strong evidence of gains in the economic productivity of water (dollars per water unit) in many countries, but we do find evidence of indirect efficiency gains, related to a composition of factors in the production processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle How Sustainable is the Increase in the Water Footprint of the Spanish Agricultural Sector? A Provincial Analysis between 1955 and 2005–2010
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5094-5119; doi:10.3390/su7055094
Received: 28 February 2015 / Revised: 16 April 2015 / Accepted: 20 April 2015 / Published: 27 April 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (1296 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In the context of a relatively scarce water country, the article analyzes the changes in 50 years in the water footprint (WF) in Spain evaluating its sustainability. For that purpose, firstly we make use of the regional information of the water footprints and
[...] Read more.
In the context of a relatively scarce water country, the article analyzes the changes in 50 years in the water footprint (WF) in Spain evaluating its sustainability. For that purpose, firstly we make use of the regional information of the water footprints and crop production to estimate the WF of production over the 50 provinces in Spain, looking at the variation between the years 1955 and 2005–2010. The detail in the information of crops (more than 150 of them) statistics allows us to examine the types and origin of changes (in volume produced, shifts towards more or less water intensive crops). Secondly, we estimate sustainability indicators also at the provincial level, which let us evaluate whether this change has created or incremented the risk of physical and economic water stress. Thirdly, we introduce the economic perspective, providing evidence on the infrastructures built and public sector expenditure, as an approximation to the costs of the increases in WF, particularly meaningful for those water stressed areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Ranking Water Transparency of Dutch Stock-Listed Companies
Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 4341-4359; doi:10.3390/su7044341
Received: 22 January 2015 / Revised: 30 March 2015 / Accepted: 9 April 2015 / Published: 14 April 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1368 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A growing world population, changing consumption patterns and climate change are affecting water demands, water scarcity and water quality worldwide, while at present, few companies are incorporating good water stewardship. In order to create awareness on this issue and provide an incentive for
[...] Read more.
A growing world population, changing consumption patterns and climate change are affecting water demands, water scarcity and water quality worldwide, while at present, few companies are incorporating good water stewardship. In order to create awareness on this issue and provide an incentive for companies to improve the water performance in their operations and supply chain, a method for ranking companies based on their water transparency has been developed. The method consists of a checklist that can be completed on the basis of information from annual reports, sustainability reports and websites of companies. This is the first time a ranking of companies regarding water transparency has been carried out. Results show that there are large differences in transparency between and within sectors and that companies are reporting more about their operations than their supply chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Green and Blue Water Footprint Accounting for Dry Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) in Primary Region of Mexico
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 3001-3016; doi:10.3390/su7033001
Received: 16 October 2014 / Revised: 6 March 2015 / Accepted: 6 March 2015 / Published: 12 March 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1370 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water shortages are a key obstacle to the sustainable supply of food to the world population, since agriculture has the largest consumptive water use. The Water Footprint (WF) has been developed as a useful tool to assess the contribution of goods and activities
[...] Read more.
Water shortages are a key obstacle to the sustainable supply of food to the world population, since agriculture has the largest consumptive water use. The Water Footprint (WF) has been developed as a useful tool to assess the contribution of goods and activities to water scarcity. This concept is being used around the world to improve agricultural water management. This paper analyzes climate data in order to estimate green and blue WFs for dry beans in the dry beans primary region of Mexico under both irrigation and dryland conditions. The quantification of green WF is very important in this area, since 95% of the crop is obtained in dryland conditions. Standard methodology was used to assess the crop WF. Five different sowing dates were considered: two for irrigation (15 April and 15 May) and three for dryland (1 and 15 July and 1 August). It was found that the optimum sowing date for dryland conditions is 1 August, with a WF of 1839 m3·Mg−1 (1 Mg equal to 1000 kg) in the sutheastern part of the region; nevertheless, results show that the largest green water availability occurs around the first days of July. Under irrigated conditions the best sowing date is 15 May, with a decrease in crop evapotranspiration of 10.1% in relation to 15 April; which means a reduction of 36.1% of blue water use in the northwestern region mainly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Open AccessArticle Sustainability, Efficiency and Equitability of Water Consumption and Pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 2086-2112; doi:10.3390/su7022086
Received: 12 December 2014 / Revised: 6 February 2015 / Accepted: 9 February 2015 / Published: 16 February 2015
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (3701 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper assesses the sustainability, efficiency and equity of water use in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by means of a geographic Water Footprint Assessment (WFA). It aims to provide understanding of water use from both a production and consumption point of
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This paper assesses the sustainability, efficiency and equity of water use in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by means of a geographic Water Footprint Assessment (WFA). It aims to provide understanding of water use from both a production and consumption point of view. The study identifies priority basins and areas from the perspectives of blue water scarcity, water pollution and deforestation. Wheat, fodder crops and sugarcane are identified as priority products related to blue water scarcity. The domestic sector is the priority sector regarding water pollution from nitrogen. Soybean and pasture are priority products related to deforestation. We estimate that consumptive water use in crop production could be reduced by 37% and nitrogen-related water pollution by 44% if water footprints were reduced to certain specified benchmark levels. The average WF per consumer in the region is 28% larger than the global average and varies greatly, from 912 m3/year per capita in Nicaragua to 3468 m3/year in Bolivia. Ironically, the LAC region shows significant levels of undernourishment, although there is abundant water and food production in the region and substantial use of land and water for producing export crops like soybean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)

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Open AccessReview Water Footprint of Cities: A Review and Suggestions for Future Research
Sustainability 2015, 7(7), 8461-8490; doi:10.3390/su7078461
Received: 28 March 2015 / Revised: 20 June 2015 / Accepted: 24 June 2015 / Published: 30 June 2015
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (211 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cities are hotspots of commodity consumption, with implications for both local and systemic water resources. Water flows “virtually” into and out of cities through the extensive cross-boundary exchange of goods and services. Both virtual and real water flows are affected by water supply
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Cities are hotspots of commodity consumption, with implications for both local and systemic water resources. Water flows “virtually” into and out of cities through the extensive cross-boundary exchange of goods and services. Both virtual and real water flows are affected by water supply investments and urban planning decisions, which influence residential, commercial, and industrial development. This form of water “teleconnection” is being increasingly recognized as an important aspect of water decision-making. The role of trade and virtual water flows as an alternative to expanding a city’s “real” water supply is rarely acknowledged, with an emphasis placed instead on monotonic expansion of engineering potable water supplies. We perform a literature review of water footprint studies to evaluate the potential and importance of taking virtual flows into account in urban planning and policy. We compare and contrast current methods to assess virtual water flows. We also identify and discuss priorities for future research in urban water footprint analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)

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