Publications — Virtual Water Trade

Virtual Water Trade and Water Footprint of Agricultural Goods: The 1961–2016 CWASI Database

by Water To Food Team

To support national and global assessments of water use in agriculture, we build a comprehensive and harmonized database of water footprint and virtual water trade (VWT) data for hundreds of agricultural goods.

The water footprint, indicating the water needed for the production of a good, including rainwater and water withdrawals, is expressed as a volume per unit weight of commodity (or unit water footprint, uWF), which is here estimated at the country scale for every year in the period 1961–2016.

The uWF is also differentiated, where possible, between production and supply, referring to local production only and to a mixed role of local production and import, respectively. The VWT data, representing the amount of water needed for the production of a good and virtually exchanged with the international trade, are provided for each commodity as bilateral trade matrices, between origin and destination countries, for every year in the period 1986–2016).

The database, developed within the EU-funded CWASI project, improves upon earlier datasets because it takes into account the annual variability of the uWF of crops, it accounts for both produced and imported goods in the definition of the uWF and it traces goods across the international trade up to the origin of goods' production.

The CWASI database is available on the Zenodo repository at (Tamea et al., 2020) and welcomes contributions and improvements from the research community to enable analyses specifically accounting for the temporal evolution of the uWF.