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Godalming, United Kingdom

Chapagain A.K.,WWF UK | Hoekstra A.Y.,University of Twente
Ecological Economics | Year: 2011

The paper makes a global assessment of the green, blue and grey water footprint of rice, using a higher spatial resolution and local data on actual irrigation. The national water footprint of rice production and consumption is estimated using international trade and domestic production data. The global water footprint of rice production is 784km3/year with an average of 1325m3/t which is 48% green, 44% blue, and 8% grey. There is also 1025m3/t of percolation in rice production. The ratio of green to blue water varies greatly over time and space. In India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines, the green water fraction is substantially larger than the blue one, whereas in the USA and Pakistan the blue water footprint is 4 times more than the green component. The virtual water flows related to international rice trade was 31km3/year. The consumption of rice products in the EU27 is responsible for the annual evaporation of 2279Mm3 of water and polluted return flows of 178Mm3 around the globe, mainly in India, Thailand, the USA and Pakistan. The water footprint of rice consumption creates relatively low stress on the water resources in India compared to that in the USA and Pakistan. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source


Orr S.,Gland Pharma | Pittock J.,Australian National University | Chapagain A.,WWF UK | Dumaresq D.,Australian National University
Global Environmental Change | Year: 2012

Proposed dam construction in the Lower Mekong Basin will considerably reduce fish catch and place heightened demands on the resources necessary to replace lost protein and calories. Additional land and water required to replace lost fish protein with livestock products are modelled using land and water footprint methods. Two main scenarios cover projections of these increased demands and enable the specific impact from the main stem dam proposals to be considered in the context of basin-wide hydropower development. Scenario 1 models 11 main stem dams and estimates a 4-7% increase overall in water use for food production, with much higher estimations for countries entirely within the Basin: Cambodia (29-64%) and Laos (12-24%). Land increases run to a 13-27% increase. In scenario 2, covering another 77 dams planned in the Basin by 2030 and reservoir fisheries, projections are much higher: 6-17% for water, and 19-63% for land. These are first estimates of impacts of dam development on fisheries and will be strongly mediated by cultural and economic factors. The results suggest that basic food security is potentially at a high risk of disruption and therefore basin stakeholders should be fully engaged in strategies to offset these impacts. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Wilby R.L.,Loughborough University | Orr H.,UK Environment Agency | Watts G.,UK Environment Agency | Battarbee R.W.,University College London | And 16 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2010

It is widely accepted that climate change poses severe threats to freshwater ecosystems. Here we examine the scientific basis for adaptively managing vulnerable habitats and species. Our views are shaped by a literature survey of adaptation in practice, and by expert opinion. We assert that adaptation planning is constrained by uncertainty about evolving climatic and non-climatic pressures, by difficulties in predicting species- and ecosystem-level responses to these forces, and by the plasticity of management goals. This implies that adaptation measures will have greatest acceptance when they deliver multiple benefits, including, but not limited to, the amelioration of climate impacts. We suggest that many principles for biodiversity management under climate change are intuitively correct but hard to apply in practice. This view is tested using two commonly assumed doctrines: "increase shading of vulnerable reaches through tree planting" (to reduce water temperatures); and "set hands off flows" (to halt potentially harmful abstractions during low flow episodes). We show that the value of riparian trees for shading, water cooling and other functions is partially understood, but extension of this knowledge to water temperature management is so far lacking. Likewise, there is a long history of environmental flow assessment for allocating water to competing uses, but more research is needed into the effectiveness of ecological objectives based on target flows. We therefore advocate more multi-disciplinary field and model experimentation to test the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of adaptation measures applied at different scales. In particular, there is a need for a major collaborative programme to: examine natural adaptation to climatic variation in freshwater species; identify where existing environmental practice may be insufficient; review the fitness of monitoring networks to detect change; translate existing knowledge into guidance; and implement best practice within existing regulatory frameworks. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source


Canals L.M.I.,Unilever | Canals L.M.I.,University of Surrey | Chapagain A.,WWF UK | Orr S.,WWF International | And 3 more authors.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2010

Background, aim and scope Milà i Canals et al. (Int J Life Cycle Ass 14(1):28-42, 2009) referred to as Part 1 in this paper) showed that impacts associated with use of freshwater must be treated more rigorously than is usual in life cycle assessment (LCA), going beyond the conventional consideration only of blue water (i.e. irrigation and other abstractions), and suggested an operational method to include the impacts on freshwater ecosystems (freshwater ecosystem impact) and abiotic resource depletion (freshwater depletion). The inclusion of water-related impacts in LCA is of paramount importance, particularly for agricultural systems due to their large water consumption worldwide. A case study of UK consumption of broccoli grown in the UK and Spain is presented here to illustrate the method suggested in Part 1. Materials and methods Water footprint (WF) and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods presented in Part 1 are applied to six different and synchronic supply chains providing broccoli during the British colder months (November-April); four of these chains refer to broccoli produced in Spain and the other two are based on frozen British produce. In addition, four UK-based supply chains delivering fresh broccoli from April to November are studied to provide a year-round perspective. Results Using WF accounting methods helps to provide a richer picture of the total water consumption associated with growing broccoli. Including the volumes of water consumed in the life cycle inventory (LCI), assessed following the WF approach (evaporative uses of irrigation water and soil moisture), shows that the total water consumption does not vary greatly between UK and Spanish broccoli production. However, when impact assessment indicators based on the water use per resource ratio are applied, water use in Spain is shown to be much more critical, with significantly higher impact for Spanish cultivation. While the largest component of water use in Spain is linked to irrigation, the study reveals other important uses in the life cycle of vegetables, namely direct use of water for cooking and sanitation, land use effects on the water cycle and electricity production. Discussion The results highlight the importance of distinguishing between different water volumes and sources in the different LCA phases: LCI (with and without full WF consideration) and LCIA. Traditional LCI results may be misleading when comparing irrigated systems in regions with differing water scarcity. The WF estimates are more relevant for sourcing strategies, as they show the total water requirements of crops including both irrigation water use as well as the use of green water (effective rainfall stored as soil moisture). Finally, LCIA results show the potential impacts of water consumption on freshwater ecosystems and future freshwater availability. Conclusions This methodological framework improves the representation of impacts associated with water use in LCA. This helps in identifying the hotspots of the production system in terms of potential impacts to freshwater ecosystems, as well as in identifying where investments for water-saving may have the greatest benefit. In addition, this approach addresses a regional specific issue, water scarcity, which may often be closer to critical thresholds than other environmental impacts. Recommendations and perspectives The method should be tested with further case studies in order to confirm the suitability and necessity of the LCI modelling requirements and LCIA characterisation factors such as the explicit inclusion of evaporative water losses. The WF approach can benefit from experience of systems analysis gained in LCA, while LCA may benefit from the detailed accounting framework embodied in the WF approach, as illustrated in this paper. Because the purposes of the two tools are different, they will continue to evolve separately, but complementarity in application should guide this development. © 2010 Springer-Verlag. Source


Grant
Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: ENV.2007.4.2.3.2. | Award Amount: 655.69K | Year: 2008

Some relative decoupling of economic growth from materials and energy consumption has been achieved in many EU countries during the past decade. However, this did not lead to an absolute decrease in environmental pressures, because absolute resource use has been generally remained steady over the past two decades. Moreover, due to the rebound effect, it is unlikely that resource use can be reduced by technological improvements alone. This leads us to the conclusion that sustainability of current lifestyles and consumption patterns may have to be critically reviewed. In order to reach the goal of shifting towards less environmentally damaging consumption patterns without reductions in the quality of life, contributions from and agreement among a variety of economic and societal actors are required. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have the unique position to bring a variety of actors together and convince them to take action for more transformational type of change beyond resource productivity measures. They can encourage concrete set of goals to drive away from currently unsustainable patterns of consumption. This project looks into how CSOs can provide new insights for research in sustainable consumption and production with the goal of reaching absolute decoupling of economic growth from resource use. Incorporating all major priorities of the call, specific objectives of the project are as follows: - Identify gaps (1) in the knowledge of CSOs how to shape consumption and production patterns in a sustainable way, and (2) in the research agenda for sustainable consumption and production policy strategies, assessment tools and indicators; - Providing new insights for increasing efficiency of policy strategies, assessment tools and indicators for sustainable consumption and production through small-scale exploratory actions; - Create partnerships between CSOs and research organisations to increase involvement of CSOs in research.

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