JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES ›› 2014, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 355-364.doi: 10.11849/zrzyxb.2014.02.017

• Resources Research Method • Previous Articles    

New Application of the Input-output Framework in the Study of Virtual Water Consumption and Trade

TAN Sheng-lin1,2, QIU Guo-yu1, XIONG Yu-jiu2,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory for Urban Habitat Environment Science and Technology, School of Environment and Energy, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, China;
    2. Department of Water Resources and Environment, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    3. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Water Security in Southern China of Guangdong High Education Institute, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2012-09-11 Revised:2013-03-15 Online:2014-02-20 Published:2014-02-18
  • About author:2


Global water crisis is looming. Virtual water, the amount of water necessary to produce a good or a service, provides key new information for policy makers, because virtual water trade can compensate for water shortages through the geographical shift of good production and the sectoral shift of water consumption. Thus virtual water serves as an alternative way of solving water resources crisis. The input-output framework is one of the main methods of studying virtual water, which can be classified into Single Regional Input-Output model (SRIO) and Multi-Regional Input-Output model (MRIO). However, there are some limitations when applying SRIO or MRIO alone, i.e., SRIO cannot distinguish local water footprint from external water footprint, thus providing very little information for inter-regional virtual water trade, while it is difficult to obtain accurate dataset for MRIO, leading to underestimation. To overcome the shortcomings of these two models, this paper aims at proposing a new method, which can separate local water footprint from external water footprint directly based on single regional input-output data that is much easier to obtain than multi-regional input-output data. In the proposed method, SRIO is adopted to calculate the total water consumption coefficient as the estimated coefficient is much accurate, and then local and external water footprint is separated directly by using single regional input-output dataset, and finally virtual water flow among different regions can be analyzed through inter-regional input-output data. The application of the proposed method to Guangdong Province showed that: 1) the total water footprint of Guangdong Province in 2007 was 333.9×108 m3, with local water footprint of 223.6×108 m3 and external water footprint of 110.3×108 m3, respectively; and 2) in 2007, the virtual water flowing out of Guangdong Province was 445.4×108 m3, and the flowing in was 454.1×108 m3 which mainly came from Hunan, Guangxi and Zhejiang provinces. The results indicate that the proposed method is effective in obtaining a complete total water consumption coefficient thus can obtain accurate estimation, and is easy to distinguish local water footprint from external water footprint and specify the water flow between regions. Virtual water and water footprint can be quantified by combining single regional input-output datasets with multi-regional input-output datasets.

Key words: Guangdong Province, water footprint, hydrology and water resources, input-output analysis, virtual water

CLC Number: 

  • TV213.4