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HRD Hydropolitics in Italy – Bath Spa University

Hydropolitics in Italy: Why georeferenced information on virtual water exports could be an asset in water-informed decision making

Wednesday 31 January, 2024 – Wednesday 31 January, 2024
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


A preliminary disclosure of methodology from the Marie Curie Post Doctoral Fellowship "JustWATER", University of Bergamo.

Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2023-24.

Maintaining a balance between water supply and demand is a worldwide concern. Over the last 30 years, increased surface and groundwater usage has caused significant water depletion in key aquifers, jeopardising global river ecosystems.

Water usage has increased, mostly due to agricultural irrigation. Virtual water is the water incorporated in agriculture and other goods, representing all necessary water throughout production process. Some water and virtual water "trade" are more fragile than others. Some water sources are renewable, while others are not.

Localised water shortages, pollution, and over-pumping affect specific irrigation districts. Consequently, specific virtual water flows are sustainable, while others are not. Local populations, in exporting nations, may have various negative socio-economic repercussions, particularly in export-led, labor-intensive, contract agricultural industry. The presence of these negative components will make the case for "bad virtual water". Italy will be the first case of a complete nationwide geo-referenced map of "bad virtual water" .

About the speaker

Dr Francesca Greco is a international expert in water and food policy. Currently a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Bergamo, she served as Programme Officer at UNESCO from 2011 to 2017 and as UN Volunteer for UNESCO Ghana from 2004 to 2005.

As a member of the London Water Research Group since 2003, she has been conducting research on virtual water, water footprint, water policy, groundwater aquifers and food exports in the Middle East and Africa since 2002. She counts on 20 years’ experience at the UN and as a consultant for various environmental NGOs.

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