The water footprint of global food production

Mesfin M. Mekonnen*, Winnie Gerbens-Leenes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Agricultural production is the main consumer of water. Future population growth, income growth, and dietary shifts are expected to increase demand for water. The paper presents a brief review of the water footprint of crop production and the sustainability of the blue water footprint. The estimated global consumptive (green plus blue) water footprint ranges from 5938 to 8508 km3/year. The water footprint is projected to increase by as much as 22% due to climate change and land use change by 2090. Approximately 57% of the global blue water footprint is shown to violate the environmental flow requirements. This calls for action to improve the sustainability of water and protect ecosystems that depend on it. Some of the measures include increasing water productivity, setting benchmarks, setting caps on the water footprint per river basin, shifting the diets to food items with low water requirements, and reducing food waste.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2696
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2020


  • Agriculture
  • Food production
  • Food waste
  • Sustainable diet
  • Water sustainability

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