Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water footprint/virtual water

Image: Pxhere, Landscape water grass, Public Domain
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.

Image: Charles Haynes, Dosa (rice pancake) with a cup of ghee (clarified butter) at Mavalli Tiffin Room in Bangalore, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
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.

Photo: Chris Happel, irrigation at dawn, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
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.

Photo credit: Neil Palmer, CIAT, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
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.

3 December 2014

This study aims to assess the effect of five dietary scenarios – designed to promote healthier and more sustainable eating – on the blue water scarcity footprint of UK food consumption. The objectives are to estimate the total blue water consumed in producing food commodities consumed in the UK; the contribution, and geographical concentration, to global blue water scarcity; and the potential impact of alternative healthy eating scenarios on global blue water scarcity.

23 June 2014

This study published by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in the journal Environmental Research Letters analyses the water footprint of agricultural production and consumption in Europe. It looks at the net virtual water import of 365 European river basins for the period between 1996-2005 based on two diet scenarios – a healthy diet based upon food-based dietary guidelines and a vegetarian diet.

17 September 2013

Approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted.  This FAO report argues that this waste represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security, and to mitigate the environmental impacts resulting from the food supply chain.