About 2.000 billion cubic meters of virtual water are transferred each year through a network that connects more than 200 countries with 15.700 two-way relationships. Nevertheless, there is a limited knowledge of the virtual water trade dynamics and implications.
The ViWaN project addresses these issues with an innovative and interdisciplinary approach, which will lead to the understanding of the main drivers and implications of the virtual water trade. The project is structured into three work packages (WP), carried on by four research units (RU). The following figure shows the WPs, the relevant interconnections and the RUs' missions.
The activities planned for the project are:
WPA (Work Package A) aims at describing the global and local virtual water balances and at reconstructing the network of international virtual water trade over the period 1986-2010.
WPB (Work Package B) deals with the different factors (climatic, agronomic, economic, political) that determine the dynamics of VW flows.
WPC (Work Package C) will investigate the environmental and socio-economic implications of virtual water trade, analyzing future scenarios, studying the vulnerability of the system to crises, and drafting proposal and operational guidelines targeted to specific stakeholders (Governments, economic agents, customers).
A set of interdisciplinary skills is required to carry out the project and to achieve its objectives. The areas of expertise of the research units involved in the project range from hydro-climate and water-science to economic and legal aspects, and from the agronomic issues of plant physiology to those related to networks analysis and crisis management in complex systems. The four research units involved in this project are located at the Politecnico di Torino (POLITO), Università degli Studi di Trento (UNITN), Università degli Studi di Firenze (UNIFI) and IMT – Institute for Advanced Studies in Lucca (IMTLU). In addition, internationally renowned researchers will be involved in the project activities, both as members of the research units or as external collaborators.