Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Virtual Water

Virtual Water
Virtual Water Trade – Embedded/Embodied Water 

Virtual water is defined as the total volume water which is needed in order to produce and process. Virtual water trade also known as trade in embodied or embedded water is related to hidden flow of water in case other commodities or food tend to get traded in different places.

On an average it takes around1,600 cubic meters of water to produce ` metric tonne of wheat and the accurate volume could depend on more or less on the climate as well as agricultural conditions. According to Hoekstra and Chapagain they have defined virtual content of product – a commodity, service or good, as `volume of freshwater which is utilised to create a product, measured at the place it was actually produced’ and relates to the sum on the utilisation of the water in the various stages of the production chain.

According to John Anthony Allan, Professor from King’s College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies had introduced the concept of virtual water in order to support his views that countries in the Middle East could save their scarce supply of water by relying on import of food.

He received an award of the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize, for his contribution. He states that `the water is considered to be virtual due to the fact that once the wheat is grown, the real water used to grow it is no longer actually contained in the wheat and the concept of virtual water helps in realizing how much water could be needed to produce different goods and services’.

Some Deficiencies in Concept of Virtual Water

He further states that in `arid and semi-arid locations, the value of the virtual water of good or service could be useful in determining the best use of the available scarce water.’ However there are some deficiencies in the concept of virtual water which means that there is a significant danger on depending on these measures in order to guide policy conclusions.

As per Australia’s National Water Commission it is considered that the measurement of virtual water has less practical value in the making of decision with regards to the best allocation of scarce water resources.

Recently the concept of virtual water trade has been gaining weightage in the scientific and the political arguments with the notion of its concept being ambiguous and changes have been moving between a descriptive, analytical concept and a political induced strategy.

From the point of view of an analytical concept, virtual water trade relates to an instrument which enables the identification as well as the assessment of policy choice not only in the scientific but also in the political discourse.

Concept Analytically helps Global/Local/Regional Level

From the point of politically induced strategy, the query is whether virtual water trade could be used in a sustainable way, or whether implementation could be managed in an economic, social or in an ecological manner and which countries would have a meaningful option of the concept offered.

In the framework of latest developments from supply oriented to demand oriented management of water resources, new field of governance has opened up which facilitates a differentiation as well as balancing of different perspective, interest and basic condition.

The concept analytically helps in distinguishing between global, local and regional level, together with their linkages. Which means that water resource problem needs to be solved.


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