Blue water scarcity and the economic impacts of future agricultural trade and demand (2013)

Schmitz, C., Lotze-Campen, H., Gerten, D., Dietrich, J.P., Bodirsky, B., Biewald, A., Popp, A. Water Resources Research

Abstract

An increasing demand for agricultural goods affects the pressure on global water resources over the coming decades. In order to quantify these effects, we have developed a new agroeconomic water scarcity indicator, considering explicitly economic processes in the agricultural system. The indicator is based on the water shadow price generated by an economic land use model linked to a global vegetation-hydrology model. Irrigation efficiency is implemented as a dynamic input depending on the level of economic development. We are able to simulate the heterogeneous distribution of water supply and agricultural water demand for irrigation through the spatially explicit representation of agricultural production. This allows in identifying regional hot spots of blue water scarcity and explicit shadow prices for water. We generate scenarios based on moderate policies regarding future trade liberalization and the control of livestock-based consumption, dependent on different population and gross domestic product (GDP) projections. Results indicate increased water scarcity in the future, especially in South Asia, the Middle East, and north Africa. In general, water shadow prices decrease with increasing liberalization, foremost in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Policies to reduce livestock consumption in developed countries not only lower the domestic pressure on water but also alleviate water scarcity to a large extent in developing countries. It is shown that one of the two policy options would be insufficient for most regions to retain water scarcity in 2045 on levels comparable to 2005.

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Citation

Schmitz, C., Lotze-Campen, H., Gerten, D., Dietrich, J.P., Bodirsky, B., Biewald, A., Popp, A., 2013. Blue water scarcity and the economic impacts of future agricultural trade and demand. Water Resour. Res. 49, 3601–3617. https://doi.org/10.1002/wrcr.20188

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