Dependence of national consumption on unsustainable blue water footprints: A global overview

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:15 PM
Arjen Y. Y. Hoekstra and Mesfin M Mekonnen, University of Twente, Enschede, 7500, Netherlands
The water footprint of consumers in a country is generally partly in other countries. For example, 10% of the water footprint of Chinese consumers is outside China; in the US this is 20%, and in the UK even 75%. National consumption thus always depends, partly, on water resources outside the national territory. Earlier research has resulted in global water footprint maps for all countries in the world, showing for each country where in the world water resources are being consumed and polluted in relation to consumption within the country considered. Recent research shows at a high spatial and temporal resolution level in which catchments in the world, the blue water footprint exceeds the maximum sustainable blue water footprint. The current study overlays the global water footprint maps per country with the global map showing locations of unsustainable water use in order to estimate, per country, the dependence of national consumption on unsustainable water footprints. Countries are ranked according to their fraction of their water footprint that is unsustainable and an in-depth analysis of the implications of this dependence is carried out for the top-10 of the list. The in-depth analysis explores which commodities are behind the unsustainable parts of a country’s water footprint, where these footprints are located and what options a country has to reduce its dependence on unsustainable water use.