Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water footprint/virtual water

6 October 2020

This book (publication date 23 October 2020), takes an interdisciplinary look at groundwater management and sustainability. It covers some food-relevant topics, including the sustainability of groundwater used in agricultural production and trade and the political economy of groundwater irrigation in India.

5 May 2020

This paper by FCRN member Daniel Tan finds that bioethanol derived from agave grown in semi-arid areas of Australia could have lower environmental impacts than biofuels derived from US corn and Brazilian sugarcane. Agave is widely grown in Mexico to make the alcoholic drink tequila. 

31 March 2020

This systematic review looks at dietary patterns and food sustainability in the United States. It estimates that the healthy US-style diet recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is associated with similar or higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and water use compared to the current US diet.

13 January 2020

FCRN member Francesca Harris has co-authored this paper, which systematically reviews the water footprint of different types of diets around the world. The paper distinguishes between the use of blue water (ground and surface) and green water (rain). 

2 December 2019

This book, originally published as a special issue of Water International, explores how the concept of “virtual water” is relevant to agriculture, trade and sustainability.

26 March 2019

This paper assesses the agricultural water use efficiency of different food types based on their nutrient content, instead of the conventional approach of assessing water use in terms of litres used to produce a certain weight of food. The purpose of the study is to determine whether higher intakes of nutrient-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and seeds might conflict with the aim of minimising agriculture’s water use.

26 February 2019

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has published its 2018 environmental progress report. FDF members report a 53% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in manufacturing operations since 1990, and a 39% reduction in water consumption since 2008.

17 July 2018

FCRN member Dr Rosemary Green of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has published a paper that calculates the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water use associated with five dietary patterns in India. As shown below, GHG emissions per capita are highest for the “rice and meat” dietary pattern (at 1.2 tonnes CO2 eq. per year) and lowest for the “wheat, rice and oils” pattern (at 0.8 tonnes CO2 eq. per year). For comparison, per capita dietary GHG emissions in the UK have been estimated at 2.6 tonnes CO2 eq. per year for high meat eaters and 1.1 tonnes CO2 eq. per year for vegans (Scarborough et al., 2014). Water use is highest for the “wheat, rice and oils” pattern and lowest for the “rice and low diversity” pattern.

6 March 2018

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has released its 2017 progress report, which tracks the progress of its members in the food and drink industry towards meeting its Ambition 2025 environmental goals.

12 December 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released a worldwide map that details croplands in high resolution in an ongoing effort to monitor croplands and water use.

19 April 2017

Based on a case study from Oakland California, a new report by Friends of the Earth US finds that schools can make lunches healthier and more climate-friendly while also saving money— by reformulating menus so that they are more plant centred, and contain less (and better) meat and fewer dairy products.

19 April 2017

This research identifies the major crops and countries contributing to groundwater depletion. The authors found that 11 percent of unsustainable groundwater used for irrigation is embedded in international crop trade. They highlight the main exporters and importers of these crops, and the associated risks for local and global food and water security.

8 February 2017

This article by T.C. Ponsioen of Wageningen University, and H.M.G. van der Werf of INRA, discusses the major sources of inconsistency in life cycle assessment (LCA) analyses of food and drink, and makes recommendations to address these inconsistencies. The article begins by describing the many attempts that have been made to standardise (or ‘harmonise’) environmental footprints of food and drink, and identifies five main areas which lack consensus.

29 November 2016

This study models the water demand of land acquisitions in Africa as a function of crop choice, local climate, and irrigation scenarios. Its authors distinguish between green and blue water, equating to water from rainfall and that provided to crops by irrigation respectively. 

8 July 2016

The Oxfam briefing Feeding Climate Change: what the Paris Agreement Means for Food & Beverage Companies looks at commodities and climate change and policy from the perspective of the food and beverage industry.