Identifying optimal virtual water management strategy for Kazakhstan: A factorial ecologically-extended input-output model
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Virtual water is an important indicator measuring the amount of water needed from the perspective of consumption, which can help decision makers to identify desired system design and optimal management strategy against water resources shortage. In this study, a novel model named as factorial ecologically-extended input-output model (abbreviated as FEIOM) is developed for virtual water management. FEIOM integrates techniques of input-output model (IOM), ecological network analysis (ENA) and factorial analysis (FA) into a general framework. It is effective to evaluate the virtual water flows, reveal ecological inter-connections in virtual water system (VWS), and identify key water consumption sectors that have significant individual and interactive effects on VWS's performance. FEIOM is then applied to identifying optimal virtual water management strategies for Kazakhstan in Central Asia. The main findings are: (i) Kazakhstan is a net importer of virtual water (reaching up to 46.0 × 109 m3), demonstrating that the national economic structure is reasonable, which can abate the national water scarcity and improve its eco-environmental protection; (ii) the virtual water of agricultural sector is net exporter, where vegetables, fruits and nuts occupy 86% of the total agricultural exports; the massive export of water-intensive products further squeezes the water for other users; (iii) the key factors affecting the national VWS are agriculture > primary manufacturing > advanced manufacturing > services. Therefore, from solving water resources shortage and facilitating sustainable development perspectives, Kazakhstan should stimulate the domestic primary manufacturing productions and improve agriculture and advanced manufacturing water-use efficiencies.
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