Water for animal products: a blind spot in water policy

Arjen Ysbert Hoekstra

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33 Citations (Scopus)
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We know from land, energy and climate studies that the livestock sector plays a substantial role in deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change. More recently it has become clear that livestock also significantly contributes to humanity’s water footprint, water pollution and water scarcity. Jalava et al (Environ. Res. Lett. 9 074016) show that considerable water savings can be achieved by reducing the fraction of animal products in our diet. The findings are in line with a few earlier studies on water use in relation to diets. As yet, this insight has not been taken forward in national water policies, which focus on ‘sustainable production’ rather than ‘sustainable consumption’. Most studies and practical efforts focus on increasing water-use efficiency in crop production (more crop per drop) and feed conversion efficiency in the livestock sector (more meat with less feed). Wateruse efficiency in the food system as a whole (more nutritional value per drop) remains a blind spot.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages3
JournalEnvironmental research letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-305079
  • IR-93266


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