Jampel Dell‘Angelo about virtual water trade in Environmental Research Letters

VU researcher Jampel Dell‘Angelo contributed to the first ever review article about the social and hydrological dimensions of virtual water trade.

05/03/2019 | 11:11 AM

Virtual water trade (VWT) is the (international or intra-national) trade of goods evaluated in terms of virtual water. The term ‘virtual’ refers to the water required to produce a good, considering all the steps involved in its production and it emphasizes that the water is conceptually embedded though not physically present in the good. For example, it takes 16,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef meat. In a trade context, the hamburger produced in Argentina and exported to the Netherlands, implies that water available in Argentina is exploited to satisfy meat demands in the Netherlands. This extensive review published in Environmental Research Letters describes the global spatio-temporal dynamics, drivers, and socio-environmental impacts of virtual water trade through an integrated analysis of surface water, groundwater, and root-zone soil moisture consumption for agricultural production. It evaluates how virtual water flows compare to the major ‘physical water fluxes’ in the Earth System, and provides a new reconceptualization of the hydrologic cycle to account also for the role of water redistribution by the hidden ‘virtual water cycle’. Stemming from this analysis different hydro-political implications are discussed and various environmental policy alternatives addressed. Read the full article Global virtual water trade and the hydrological cycle: patterns, drivers, and socio-environmental impacts.