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Water Value Flows Upstream

The Water Footprint of Global Food Production

Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, USA
Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society (IREES), University of Groningen, Nijenborg 6, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2696;
Received: 26 July 2020 / Revised: 8 September 2020 / Accepted: 25 September 2020 / Published: 26 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue In Memory of Prof. Arjen Y. Hoekstra)
Agricultural production is the main consumer of water. Future population growth, income growth, and dietary shifts are expected to increase demand for water. The paper presents a brief review of the water footprint of crop production and the sustainability of the blue water footprint. The estimated global consumptive (green plus blue) water footprint ranges from 5938 to 8508 km3/year. The water footprint is projected to increase by as much as 22% due to climate change and land use change by 2090. Approximately 57% of the global blue water footprint is shown to violate the environmental flow requirements. This calls for action to improve the sustainability of water and protect ecosystems that depend on it. Some of the measures include increasing water productivity, setting benchmarks, setting caps on the water footprint per river basin, shifting the diets to food items with low water requirements, and reducing food waste. View Full-Text
Keywords: agriculture; food production; sustainable diet; food waste; water sustainability agriculture; food production; sustainable diet; food waste; water sustainability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mekonnen, M.M.; Gerbens-Leenes, W. The Water Footprint of Global Food Production. Water 2020, 12, 2696.

AMA Style

Mekonnen MM, Gerbens-Leenes W. The Water Footprint of Global Food Production. Water. 2020; 12(10):2696.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mekonnen, Mesfin M., and Winnie Gerbens-Leenes. 2020. "The Water Footprint of Global Food Production" Water 12, no. 10: 2696.

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