The water footprint of national consumption is defined as the total amount of fresh water that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the inhabitants of the nation. The water footprint of national consumption can be assessed in two ways. The bottom-up approach is to consider the sum of all products consumed multiplied with their respective product water footprint. In the top-down approach, the water footprint of national consumption is calculated as the total use of domestic water resources plus the gross virtual water import minus the gross virtual-water export.

Based on the bottom-up approach, the global average water footprint is found to be 1385 m3/yr per capita in the period 1996-2005 (Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2011). There are large differences between countries. In the USA the average water footprint is 2842 m3/yr per capita. In China the average water footprint is 1071 m3/yr per capita.

The water footprint of consumption in a country depends on two factors: what and how much do consumers consume and what are the water footprints of the commodities consumed. The latter depends on the production circumstances in the places of origin of the various commodities. Very low agricultural yields and associated large water footprints per unit of harvested crop in some developing countries explains why some poor countries have a relatively large water footprint of national consumption.


National water footprint
Average water footprint of national consumption in m3 per year per capita in the period 1996-2005. Countries shown in green have a water footprint that is smaller than the global average; countries shown in yellow-red have a water footprint larger than the global average. Source:Mekonnen and Hoekstra (2011).

Publications

2011 Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2011) National water footprint accounts: the green, blue and grey water footprint of production and consumption, Value of Water Research Report Series No.50, UNESCO-IHE.
Main Report
Volume 1
download report 50 volume I
2.1 MB
Appendices
Volume 2
download report 50 volume II
1.9 MB
2008
Hoekstra, A.Y. and Chapagain, A.K. (2008) Globalization of water: Sharing the planet's freshwater resources, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK.
2007
Hoekstra, A.Y., Chapagain, A.K.(2007) 'Water footprints of nations: water use by people as a function of their consumption pattern, Water Resources Management 21(1): 35-48.
download
0.44 MB
2004
Chapagain, A.K. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2004) ‘Water footprints of nations’, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 16, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands.
Main Report
Volume 1
download
2.50 MB
Appendices
Volume 2
download
1.40 MB



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