Four perspectives on water for global food production and international trade: incommensurable objectives and implications

Vos, Jeroen; Oel, Pieter van; Hellegers, Petra; Veldwisch, Gert Jan; Hoogesteger, Jaime


Virtual water flows, incorporated in global food trade has increased the last decade. The drivers and consequences are complex. These complex relations between humans and water resources are studied from different perspectives. In this article, an overview of four such perspectives on water in global food production and trade is provided. These four perspectives are: (1) Increasing water productivity for crop production, (2) Reducing water footprints, (3) National food security and import dependency; and (4) Local values and implications of water used in export food production. Each of the perspectives is valuable in the sense of representing different value frameworks, which represent contrasting norms and convictions, belief systems, and discourses; which are often incommensurable.