Proposals for sustainable water management for countries of Latin America and Caribbean through the analysis of their water footprints

Topics: Resource efficiency policies for sustainable cities and lifestyles
Keywords: water footprint, Latin America and Caribbean countries, Resource efficiency policies

Antônio José Juliani

University of Brasilia – UNB, Brazil;

Water is the most abundant natural resource on the planet. It is estimated that approximately 40% of the world’s population live under water stress situations. These people live in regions where the annual supply is less than 1700 m3/inhabitant, which is the minimum safe limit considered by the United Nations (UN). According to estimates of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), by 2050, a total of 4.8 billion people will be in a water stress situation.

In addition to problems for human consumption, a possible global scenario of water scarcity would affect agricultural crops and industrial production, since water resources and economic growth go together. About 45% of all global wealth will be produced in regions subject to water stress that will have an impact on investment decisions and operational costs for businesses, affecting the competitiveness of global regions.

This paper aims to analyze the water management of the countries of Latin America and Caribbean by comparing their water footprints. It uses water data from the Water Footprint Network (WFN) as the total water footprint (m3/year) and the water footprint per capita (liter/day) for each country. It then made a comparison between the countries that make up the two different groups: Latin America and the Caribbean, and a comparison between countries of the same group.

Overall, it is concluded that the analyzed countries consume water above the global average and some suggestions are made for them to develop more efficient public policies for this precious natural resource to be preserved and used in a sustainable way while also allowing the change of lifestyles and their respective populations through education.


Graduated in Chemical Production Engineering from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) (1985), Specialization in International Relations from the University of Brasilia (UNB) (2004), Master in Environmental Policy and Management at UNB (2009), PhD in Development sustainable by UNB (2015). It is currently Foreign Trade Analyst, Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC). Work with groups that are involved with trade and environmental issues, particularly those relating to the competitiveness of Brazilian products in global markets.