Observatorio de I+D+i UPM

Memorias de investigación
Book chapters:
Water footprint and virtual water trade in Spain
Year:2009
Research Areas
  • Agricultural policy
Information
Abstract
As the most arid country in the European Union, water resources management in Spain is an issue as important as controversial. In this country, even if water resources are unevenly distributed and, in some regions drought conditions are increasing, the crisis is one of water governance rather than physical scarcity. The estimation and analysis of the water footprint of Spain, from a hydrological, economic and ecological perspective, is very useful to facilitate an efficient allocation of water and economic resources. This analysis can provide a transparent and multidisciplinary framework for informing and optimising water policy decisions, contributing at the same time to the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) (WFD). This is particularly relevant since Spain is the first country that has included the water footprint analysis into governmental policy making in the context of the WFD (Official State Gazette, 2008). The water footprint (WF) is a consumption-based indicator of water use (Hoekstra & Chapagain, 2008). The WF of an individual or community is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community (ibid.). Closely linked to the concept of water footprint is the virtual water. The virtual water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) refers to the volume of water used in its production (Allan, 1997). Building on this concept, virtual water `trade¿ represents the amount of water embedded in traded products. International trade can save water globally if a water-intensive commodity is traded from an area where it is produced with high water productivity (resulting in products with low virtualwater content) to an area with lower water productivity (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008). Nevertheless, just a small amount of international virtual water trade is due to water scarcity (Yang & Zehnder, 2008). International trade in agricultural commodities mainly depends on factors such as availability of land, labour, technology, the costs of engaging in trade, national food policies and international trade agreements (Hoekstra & Chapagain, 2008). At national or regional level, a nation can preserve its domestic water resources by importing products instead of producing them domestically. This is particularly relevant to arid or semi-arid countries with scarce water resources such as the case of Spain. Spain imports water-intensive low-economic value crops (mainly wheat, maize and soybeans) while it exports water-extensive high-economic value commodities adapted to the Mediterranean climate, essentially olive oil, fruits and vegetables. Apart from stressing its potential contribution to water savings, it is also important to establish whether the water used in the production of a given crop proceeds from rainwater stored in the soil as soil moisture evaporated during the production process (green water) or from surface water and/or groundwater evaporated as a result of the production of the crop (blue water) (Falkenmark & Rockstrom, 2004)
International
Si
Book Edition
1
Book Publishing
Routledge Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN
978-0-415-55411-4
Series
Book title
Water Policy in Spain.
From page
49
To page
62
Participants
  • Autor: Maite M Aldaya
  • Autor: Alberto Garrido Colmenero (UPM)
  • Autor: Paula Novo Núñez (UPM)
  • Autor: M. Ramón Llamas
  • Autor: Roberto Rodriguez Casado (UPM)
  • Autor: Consuelo Varela Ortega (UPM)
Research Group, Departaments and Institutes related
  • Creador: Grupo de Investigación: Economía Agraria y Gestión de los Recursos Naturales
  • Centro o Instituto I+D+i: Centro de Estudios e Investigación para la Gestión de Riesgos Agrarios Medioambientales (CEIGRAM)
  • Departamento: Economía y Ciencias Sociales Agrarias
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