Current Associate

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Agricultural production, global trade and export of virtual water under future climate conditions
Sandy Dall’erba
Associate 2018-19

This project investigates the sustainability of the amount of virtual water used in the global economic production and trade of agriculture. This sector is by far the largest consumer of water across most countries, but growing world population and the uncertain hazards that accompany climate change have put an increasing pressure on the management and sustainability of the water balance. Compared to previous contributions in the literature, this project traces how water is used by all economic sectors through the entire global supply chain to satisfy intermediate and final demand. In addition, the most recent input-output data encompassing 26 sectors and 187 countries during 1990-2013 will be used.

This project has three objectives: first, to identify which countries/sectors are the most water-demanding; next, to simulate how more frequent heat waves and changes in precipitation patterns would modify their production and trade system; and finally, to quantify the amount of water that some countries could save under three adaptation scenarios. These are: 1) increasing the price of water used in agriculture or other water-intensive sectors, 2) decreasing the quantity of goods these sectors export, and 3) increasing the technological efficiency by consuming less water per unit produced. Economic costs associated to each of these cases will be assessed in order to identify the most appealing strategy. Professor Dall’erba will build on his experience measuring the dynamics of water used by agriculture and the economic impact of water-saving strategies for the state of Arizona to focus on an extension to the global trade network and global climate data offered in the current project.