How sustainable is the increase in the water footprint of the Spanish agricultural sector? A provincial analysis between 1955 and 2005-2010

In the context of a relatively scarce water country, the article analyzes the changes in 50 years in the water footprint (WF) in Spain evaluating its sustainability. For that purpose, firstly we make use of the regional information of the water footprints and crop production to estimate the WF of production over the 50 provinces in Spain, looking at the variation between the years 1955 and 2005-2010. The detail in the information of crops (more than 150 of them) statistics allows us to examine the types and origin of changes (in volume produced, shifts towards more or less water intensive crops). Secondly, we estimate sustainability indicators also at the provincial level, which let us evaluate whether this change has created or incremented the risk of physical and economic water stress. Thirdly, we introduce the economic perspective, providing evidence on the infrastructures built and public sector expenditure, as an approximation to the costs of the increases in WF, particularly meaningful for those water stressed areas ​
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