Economic water scarcity and the virtual water fluxes – University of Pisa, May 2021

by Water To Food Team

Elena Vallino has been invited to give a Seminar at the The Department of Economics and Management of the University of Pisa, hosted by Tiziano Distefano, previous member of the Water To Food research team.

She talked about the importance of considering economic water scarcity when assessing the sustainability of virtual water fluxes and the relations among nations involved in the virtual water trade associated to food.

Economic water scarcity occurs when social, economic and infrastructural obstacles impede the productive use of water for human activities, even in cases where water is abundant.

Almost 40% of virtual water fluxes associated to food trade moves along unfair routes: the exporter country has a higher economic and physical water scarcity than the importer country, and often has also a lower income.

Applying the weight of a composite index of economic and physical water scarcity we observe that, on average, high-income countries import more virtual water than in the unweighted case, using virtual water that is scarce, and therefore very precious, for other countries. Low- and middle-income countries export more scarce water than in the unweighted case.

Stay tuned for an up-coming publication on the unfair routes of the virtual water trade. In the while, to discover more about how the economic water scarsity is measured in agriculture, explore the publication "Measuring economic water scarcity in agriculture: a cross-country empirical investigation''