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News "Virtual Water" Innovator Awarded 2008 Stockholm Water Prize

Professor John Anthony Allan from King's College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies has been named the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. Professor Allan pioneered the development of key concepts in the understanding and communication of water issues and how they are linked to agriculture, climate change, economics and politics.
People do not only consume water when they drink it or take a shower. In 1993, Professor Allan, 71, strikingly demonstrated this by introducing the "virtual water" concept, which measures how water is embedded in the production and trade of food and consumer products. Behind that morning cup of coffee are 140 litres of water used to grow, produce, package and ship the beans. That is roughly the same amount of water used by an average person daily in England for drinking and household needs. The ubiquitous hamburger needs an estimated 2,400 litres of water. Per capita, Americans consume around 6,800 litres of virtual water every day, over triple that of a Chinese person.

Virtual water has major impacts on global trade policy and research, especially in water-scarce regions, and has redefined discourse in water policy and management. By explaining how and why nations such as the US, Argentina and Brazil 'export' billions of litres of water each year, while others like Japan, Egypt and Italy 'import' billions, the virtual water concept has opened the door to more productive water use.

National, regional and global water and food security, for example, can be enhanced when water intensive commodities are traded from places where they are economically viable to produce to places where they are not. While studying water scarcity in the Middle East, Professor Allan developed the theory of using virtual water import, via food, as an alternative water "source" to reduce pressure on the scarcely available domestic water resources there and in other water-short regions.
The USD 150,000 Stockholm Water Prize will be presented August 21 in the Stockholm City Hall. H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is the Patron of the Stockholm Water Prize.

Contact information David Trouba, Communications Director, Stockholm International Water Institute, Drottninggatan 33, 11151 Stockholm SWEDEN (email: )
Phone: +46 8 522 139 89 ; Fax: +46 73 914 39 89 ; Skype: davetrouba
News type Nomination
File link
Source of information SIWI
Keyword(s) virtual water
Geographical coverage Sweden
News date 19/03/2008
Working language(s) ARABIC , ENGLISH , FRENCH